Best Year for Korean Movies – 2012

Hello everyone and welcome back to another blog post by EonTalk! In a previous video that I uploaded on the EonTalk YouTube channel, titled “Most Memorable Korean Movies,” I mentioned that I believe 2012 was the best year for Korean films. And so today, I thought I’d go deeper into that topic, and explain why I believe this was one of the best years for Korean cinema.  

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Rating Criteria

Before going into the list, I’d just like to explain the criteria I used. First, I went and looked up the top movies by year, and organized these movies in a spreadsheet by their box office and revenue numbers. The timeframe I looked at was between 2008 and 2019. Following this, I took a look at each year and went through how many of these movies I believe were worth watching, and which ones I’d recommend. Then, I took into consideration how diverse of genre, actors, and other factors the list had by each year, and ultimately came to the conclusion that 2012 was my favorite year for Korean movies, as it had a very wide range of genres, including crime, comedy, action, mystery, romance, drama, thriller, and historical drama, as well as various actors and actresses. 

After concluding that 2012 was my favorite year, I organized the movies released in that year, and ranked the top 15 of my favorites. As always, these movie recommendations lists are composed of my personal favorites. They are totally subjective to my biased opinions, so if you have differing views, please respectfully leave your thoughts in the comments. Now then, shall we get into the list? Let’s go!


To begin the list, <A Company Man> took the #15 spot. <A Company Man> is an action-drama that was released on October 11th of 2012, and was directed by Lim Sang-Yoon. <A Company Man> had the likes of So Ji-Sub, Lee Mi-Yeon, Kwak Do-Won, Kim Dong-Jun, and Lee Kyung-Young in its cast lineup, and was rated 19+, which is equivalent to being Rated R. This is probably the reason why it had a lower box office number, as it limits the audience that can watch the film in theaters. The movie recorded 1,110,523 at the box offices, and had an audience score of 6.5.


Moving along, the #14 movie was the comedy-action film <The Grand Heist>. <The Grand Heist> was released on August 8th, and was directed by Kim Ju-Ho, who also directed the more recently-released film <Jesters: The Game Changers>, which had a very similar theme and overlapping elements as <The Grand Heist>. The movie featured the likes of Cha Tae-Hyun, Oh Ji-Ho, Min Hyo-Rin, Sung Dong-Il, Shin Jeong-Keun, and Go Chang-Seok, and recorded 4,909,944 at the box offices, with an audience score of 7.59. 


Going into the #13 position, my 13th favorite film of 2012 was <Tower>. <Tower> was released on Christmas Day of 2012, and was directed by the same director of <Sector 7> and <May 18>, Kim Ji-Hoon. The movie starred Sol Kyung-Gu, Son Ye-Jin, Kim Sang-Kyung, Kim In-Kwon, and Ahn Sung-Ki, amongst others, and had a box office number of 5,181,228, and an audience rating of 8.03. 


The #12 movie was a romcom that was released on May 17th, <All About My Wife>. This film was directed by Min Kyu-Dong, who also directed <Herstory> and <The Treacherous>, and the cast lineup includes Lim Soo-Jung, Lee Sun-Kyun, Ryu Seung-Ryong, and Lee Kwang-Soo. <All About My Wife> recorded 4,598,985 at the box office, and had an audience score of 8.57. 


Next, #11 was a very sexual movie, titled <My PS Partner> or <Watcha Wearin>. I found that this movie has two English titles; the Korean search engine, Naver, titles it the former, whereas Google labels it as the latter. The film had the actors Ji Sung, Kim Ah-Joong, Shin So-Yool, Kang Kyung-Jun, and Kim Sung-Oh, and was directed by Byun Sung-Hyun, who also directed <The Merciless>. The “PS” in <My PS Partner> stands for “Phone Sex,” and based on that, you can probably guess that the movie is highly provocative, and so, rated 19+. This, therefore, most likely is a crucial reason as to why the movie recorded a lower box office number of 1,831,741. The audience score of the film was 8.24.


Going into the top 10, #10 is a mystery film that I found to be very entertaining, but is fairly underrated, <Helpless>. I remember watching this movie in theater and being very confused, as the mystery it has is quite puzzling. Released on March 8th, <Helpless> was directed by Byung Young-Ju, and featured the cast of Lee Sun-Kyun, Kim Min-Hee, Cho Sung-Ha, Song Ha-Yoon, Choi Duk-Moon, Lee Hee-Jun, Kim Min-Jae, and Park Hae-Jun, amongst others. The movie’s box office number was 2,436,884, the audience rating was 9, and I definitely do recommend this film if you enjoy mystery movies. 


#9 was a great action-thriller that I included in my “Best Korean Thrillers” video, <Confession of Murder>. <Confession of Murder> was released on November 8th, and starred Jung Jae-Young, Park Si-Hoo, Jung Hae-Kyun, Kim Young-Ae, Choi Won-Young, and Kim Jong-Gu. Directed by Jung Byung-Gil, who also did <The Villainess>, and was another 19+ movie. The movie recorded 2,729,830 at the box office, and had an audience rating of 8.48. 


Moving along, the #8 movie was a movie I recently featured on my “Korean Movies to Watch During Social Distancing” video, titled <Deranged>. <Deranged> is a film that resembles the situations we are facing today with the ongoing pandemic, and was the first movie I thought of when preparing that “Korean Movies to Watch During Social Distancing” video. If you haven’t seen the film, I highly recommend you see it. Released on July 5th, <Deranged> was directed by Park Jung-Woo, who also did <Pandora>, and stars Kim Myung-Min, Moon Jung-Hee, Kim Dong-Wan, and Lee Ha-Nee, amongst others. The movie recorded 4,516,063 at the box offices, and had an audience score of 7.18. 


The #7 spot goes to a type of movie you don’t typically see in Korean cinema, <A Werewolf Boy>. The film is different from other Korean films in the sense that it’s about a werewolf, which in itself is highly uncommon in Korean movies, and has elements of drama, action, romance, and thriller. <A Werewolf Boy> was directed by Cho Sung-Hee, who also directed <Phantom Detective>, and had two A-list main leads of Song Joong-Ji and Park Bo-Young, and supporting actors of Jang Young-Nam, Yoo Yeon-Seok, and Kim Hyang-Gi, amongst others. The movie had a very suitable release in terms of timing, as it was released on Halloween Day of 2012, and recorded 6,654,390 at the box offices, and had an audience rating of 8.65. 


Next is another romance movie that warmed the hearts of many, <Architecture 101>. Released during the spring-time of 2012, <Architecture 101> was directed by Lee Yong-Ju, who also directed a very different movie in theme, titled <Possessed>. The film stars the likes of Uhm Tae-Woong, Han Ga-In, Lee Je-Hoon, Suzy, Jo Jung-Suk, and Yoo Yeon-Seok, and marked the start of popularity for Suzy and Jo Jung-Suk in terms of featured films. <Architecture 101> had 4,113,696 people at the box offices, and recorded an audience score of 9.5. 


The #5 movie is a very underrated Korean thriller, and if you know me, you know I love Korean thrillers. This is another movie that was included in my “Best Korean Thrillers” video, and is one of the most gruesome Korean films I’ve seen, <Traffickers>. Released on August 29th, this crime-thriller was directed by Kim Hong-Sun, the director of <Metamorphosis>, <The Chase>, and <The Con Artists>, and had a cast lineup of Lim Chang-Jung, Choi Daniel, Oh Dal-Soo, Cho Yoon-Hee, Jung Ji-Yoon, and Cho Dal-Hwan, amongst others. As mentioned before, the movie is one of the most gruesome films, and so, it makes sense that the movie was rated 19+. Thus, the movie raked in a relatively lower box office number of 1,646,142, and had an audience rating of 7.01. 


Moving along to #4, the #4 movie is a Korean historical drama that was released on September 13th, <Masquerade>. This film has an amazing cast lineup of Lee Byung-Hun, Ryu Seung-Ryong, Han Hyo-Ju, Kim In-Kwon, Jang Gwang, and Shim Eun-Kyung, and is quite different from typical Korean historical dramas, as it isn’t full-out serious, but also has comedic elements to it. I’m not the biggest fan of this genre, but this is one of the few that I highly enjoyed. Directed by Chu Chang-Min, who also directed <Seven Years of Night>, <Masquerade> had the second highest box office number of this list with 12,324,062. The film also had the second highest audience score, recording 9.24


This next movie is another fairly mature film, <Eungyo>. Released on April 25th, <Eungyo> had a great cast of Park Hae-Il, Kim Mu-Yeol, Kim Go-Eun, Jung Man-Shik, and Park Chul-Hyun. This was the film that I first learned of Kim Go-Eun in, and the movie was directed by Jung Ji-Woo, the director of <Tune in for Love>, which also stars Kim Go-Eun, <Heart Blackened>, another great drama film, and <4th Place>. As you can probably guess based on the fact that I said it was a mature movie, <Eungyo> is rated 19+, meaning it had a fairly low box office number, at 1,346,511, and had an audience rating of 7.08. 


The #2 movie is the movie that I selected as my favorite of 2012 in my “Most Memorable Korean Movies” video, <The Thieves>. I know I said <The Thieves> was my favorite of 2012 in that video, but I thought I’d switch it up here and place it as my #2 favorite. Honestly, all five of the top 5 could’ve taken the spot, but hey, it’s ultimately my personal preference and so I decided to change it up a bit. Released on July 25th, this action-comedy was also featured on my “Best Korean Comedies” video, and features a stunning cast of Kim Yoon-Seok, Kim Hye-Soo, Lee Jung-Jae, Jun Ji-Hyun, Simon Yam, Kim Hae-Sook, Oh Dal-Soo, Kim Soo-Hyun, Angelica Lee, and Derek Tsang. Directed by Choi Dong-Hoon, who also did <Assassination>, the first “Tazza” film <Tazza: The High Rollers>, and <The Big Swindle>. <The Thieves> had the highest box office record of 2012 with 12,984,692, and had an audience score of 7.62. 


And finally, the #1 movie of 2012. This movie was a crime-drama released on February 2nd, and has one of the most memorable casts, lines, and scenes: <Nameless Gangster: Rules of Time>. <Nameless Gangster> has an incredible cast lineup of Choi Min-Shik, Ha Jung-Woo, Cho Jin-Woong, Ma Dong-Seok aka Don Lee, Kwak Do-Won, and Kim Sung-Kyun, amongst others was directed by Yoon Jong-Bin, the director of <The Spy Gone North>, <KUNDO: Age of Rampant>, and <Beastie Boys>. Despite the film being rated 19+, the movie had a relatively high box office number. Whereas other 19+ rated movies on this list had box office numbers of 1 to 3 million, <Nameless Gangster> recorded nearly 5 million, at 4,720,060. The movie also had an audience rating of 8.62. 


That concludes today’s blog on the “Best Year for Korean Movies.” Thank you to everyone that made it til the end. How many of the movies mentioned here have you seen? Do you agree with me that 2012 was one of the best years for Korean cinema? If not, which year do you believe was the best for Kfilms? Please respectfully leave your opinions in the comments 🙂 

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Please keep in mind this review is composed of solely my own opinions, and should be taken with a grain of salt. I am in no way a professional writer, nor have I majored or studied journalism. This is for informative entertainment purpose only, representing my personal views. I do not own the images and/or videos used in the review. No copyright infringement intended.

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