However, looking at Korea's independent scene tells a very different story. Though working with small budgets and often in difficult circumstances, indie filmmakers are largely making up for the commercial side's creative shortfall. Unsurprisingly, eight of my ten favorite Korean films this year came from the indie realm. This does mean that many will not immediately be available but I hope that each will receive a wider release and become something to look forward to in the near future. That said, there are a number of strong commercial films that almost made the cut, which you can see in the 'Best of the Rest' list below. Alas, all of those were commercial disappointments, which may speak to my different tastes as a foreigner.
The rules for this list are simple, only feature films that had their first public screening in 2014 (either at a film festival or on theatrical release) are considered. I saw 140 films fitting that criteria but there are two I couldn't consider, the films Dear Dictator and I Am Trash by Lee Sang-woo which I am listed as a producer on. I pretty much got my hands on everything I wanted to see last year, with the only exception being the Kim Ki-duk produced Made in China which premiered at the Tokyo International Film Festival in October.
Scroll through the below gallery to discover my Top 10 Korean Films of 2014. Be sure to let us know if you agree or disagree!
Reviews and features on Korean film appear regularly on Modern Korean Cinema. For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office Update, Korean Cinema News and the Weekly Korean Reviews, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (Korean Standard Time).