See You After School (방과후 옥상, 2006, Dir: Seok-hoon Lee.)
I frickin’ loved this one. I mean, LOVED. Found myself watching this endearing comedy about an awkward, eternally unlucky and bumbling student that messes with the wrong crowd on his first day at a new school. He’s so unlucky that scientists study him and the uniqueness of his disposition. Thought it would be formulaic and cheesy (I could have done without the fantasy and fish montages); ends up being genuine, warm, and charming.
Favorite scenes: On the subway with a bully and a kid stuck between traincar doors, the schoolyard fight that comes to a head in the garage between two different gangs (with NamKoong Dahl thrown in the mix), and the teacher being told off by our unlucky hero in the classroom.
Sunny (써니, 2011, Dir: Hyeong-Cheol Kang).
Heartwarming dramatic film about a group of girls that take in a girl from the countryside with an accent and accept her into their posse, and reconnect twenty years later. Super slow moving in the beginning, but really liked this one. Nice to see a strong ensemble female cast instead of just the ingenues to the leading man. Great casting. Fun scenes: girls break out into dance routine, and especially the girl gang beat-downs (Dang! These girls got street cred! Who knew?) Sunny is available on Hulu and Netflix.
On a completely related note: Who doesn’t love the ’90s?
The Front Line (고지전, 2012, Dir: Hun Jang).
Heavy, war-torn drama about North and South Korean soldiers that constantly take back and lose the same damn hill (that stupid hill! Even I felt exhausted and POed watching them overrun and surrender that so many times. I’m not usually into war dramas, but MAN! This one delivers.
The two leading men are comrades that knew each other from their school days and run into each other in the field, but both have very little to no knowledge of how the other has truly become over the years. Quality dramatic actors carry the film more than adequately; probably why I liked it so much.
I won’t give too much more away, but Lee Jehoon totally OWNS it in a few of the scenes. (You might have seen him in the awesome Bleak Night with stellar cast members Seo Jun Young and Park Jung Min.)
Seriously, Lee Jehoon. Got him on my casting short list.