Top 25 Korean Films - No. 9

Chilsu and Mansu (Dir. Park Kwang-su, 1988)

Korean New Wave cinema at its finest, Chilsu and Mansu encapsulated the 1980s spirit of Korean activism with its allegorical take on a mismatched pair of poster painters. It also launched a young Park Joong-hoon to the top reaches of the industry. Following the Gwangju Massacre of 1980 and the reign of terror under the dictator Chun Doo-hwan, the decade was a particularly hard one for Korean citizens.

With protagonists who dream of better things, masking their pain with drinking or a Western fetish, and eventually become mistaken for activists, Chilsu and Mansu spoke to the confusion, fear and paranoia of a generation. A simply staged, naturalistic and eloquent work, director Park Kwang-su brought politics to the fore in Korean cinema with his debut. One of the key films that paved the way for the socially aware and cinematically sophisticated industry of today that has drawn praise from around the world.

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