Let’s be real. No matter how enthusiastic we are about learning a new language, sometimes making flashcards and copying words from a textbook can start to feel a little mundane-but it doesn’t have to be! You’ll hear many foreign language students say the best way to learn a language is by immersion, and they’re absolutely right. Though we can’t magically transport you to Korea (we wish!), we can give you the next best way to boost those budding Korean skills: learning through film! Unlike real life, you’ll be able to see, rewind, and pause text as it’s displayed on-screen. RM from BTS claims he picked up his English watching films and shows such as the 90’s sitcom, Friends. Judging by his English today, it definitely paid off! We’ve carefully compiled a shortlist of films ranging from easy to challenging as a fun way to fast-track your Korean while changing things up. So grab a pencil, some paper, and some popcorn and immerse yourself in the Korean language AND a good story!
How to Steal a Dog/개를 훔치는 완벽한 방법 (2014)
Source: ©Gae-leul hoom-chi-neun wan-byeok-han bang-beob, 07.04.2018, IMDb
Ji-so and her family are living out of a pizza delivery van. One day Ji-so notices a flyer at a local business advertising houses for 5 million won ($500 USD!) per square foot, mistakenly understanding the entire homes to be just 5 million won. After seeing flyers around town advertising rewards for lost dogs, Ji-so is struck by an idea. Along with her younger brother, best friend, and a kind drifter, Ji-so carefully devises a plan to steal the dog of the wealthy owner of the café her mother waitresses at. Just as things seem to be going to plan, Ji-so learns that things are not always how they seem.
Based on the award-winning children’s novel of the same name and brought to life by director Sung-ho Kim, this whimsical, feel-good, family film is of simple plot and language, making it a great choice for beginners looking to supplement their Korean studies!
Where to Watch: Netflix
The Admiral/명량: 회오리 바다를 향하여 (2014)
©Myeong-ryang, 07.04.2018, IMDb
The year is 1597 in the Joseon Dynasty. The Japanese navy, 300 ships strong, has been sent by The Empire of Japan to capture King Seonjo and take the kingdom. After several hard-fought battles, the Korean navy has been reduced to just 13 ships. Men and morale are scarce. Admiral Yi Sun-sin, a resourceful veteran and previous commander of the navy, is called in to take command over what remains of the fleet. On arrival, Yi Sun-sin sees that the situation is grim. However, he realizes his men have one advantage the Japanese do not: they know the water. In a bold and resourceful move, Yi-Sun-sin lures the Japanese armada into the Myeongnyang Strait-an area known for it’s concealed and treacherous currents-destroying 31 of the Japanese ships. The Japanese navy, stunned and terrified, retreat and admit defeat.
A beloved tale of the underdog and triumph, this film swept awards season in Korea, winning both Best Film and Best Actor at the 51st Grand Bell Awards (South Korea’s Oscar’s) and currently holds the title for highest grossing film in modern Korean history. Though some of the Korean words and phrases spoken are antiquated, learning about the history of the language (and the country it comes from) is vital for any language learner. Based on real events and filled with awe-inspiring special effects, this action-packed history lesson is anything but boring.
Where to Watch: DramaFever
The Beauty Inside/뷰티 인사이드 (2015)
©Beom-su Lee, Hyo-Joo Han, Seo-Joon Park, and Dae-Myung Kim in Byuti insaideu, 07.04.2018, IMDb
Woo-jin wakes up every morning in a different body. Sometimes he’s a woman, sometimes he’s a man. Sometimes he’s an old woman, and sometimes he’s a young boy. Sometimes he’s even a foreigner. The only people who know his secret? His mother and long-time best friend, Song-beck. Though his life is always interesting, it can be quite isolating, so Woo-jin finds solace in his carpentry. However, when Woo-jin unexpectedly meets E-soo, a furniture salesgirl in the shop that carries his designs, he falls for her headfirst. Eventually, Woo-jin can no longer hold back his feelings and works up the courage to ask E-soo on a date. Previously prepared to live a lonely fate, Woo-jin must choose to take a leap of faith and carve a new one.
Peppered with celebrity cameos, you’ll learn famous Korean faces AND get your romance fix while learning every-day relationship and interpersonal vocabulary-just make sure to grab the tissues.
Where to Watch: Netflix
Yoo Byung-jae: Too Much Information (2018)
©Yoo Byungjae: Too Much Information, 07.04.2018, IMDb
Former writer and cast member for SNL Korea, Yoo Byung-jae, stars in his first live solo venture. A collaboration between YG Entertainment and Netflix, Yoo’s self-deprecative romp in black comedy serves up something for everyone, from apologizing for showing up without a K-Pop star, to impersonating exasperated mothers on the warpath, to reading mean comments (à la Jimmy Kimmel), to more mature fare, Yoo proves himself to be the perfect opening act for the budding Korean Stand-up scene.
Like any good Stand-Up set, there are “reprises” or “callbacks,” throughout the show. In Stand-Up, this is usually so that the audience has another chance to digest the joke, allowing them to feel in on it the second time around, but for language learning it’s another chance to hear what’s being said. Yoo speaks fast and quite low at times, providing a challenge to more experienced learners with a natural-sounding Korean that you’d be more likely to hear people speak on the street versus the carefully crafted, enunciated, Korean you hear in films and dramas. Yoo’s set also includes some slang and colorful swears, so you can be sure to impress your friends with your updated Korean the next time you chat-with your slang, that is!
Where to Watch: Netflix
Do you practice Korean with films or dramas? What are your favorites? Let us know by commenting below!
Pssst: Looking for more on The Beauty Inside? Read our review here!
Want to experience more of Korean culture and language? Why not subscribe now to the Inspire Me Korea CULTURE BOX to receive a box of goodies sent to your door every month? We ship internationally!~
Featured Image Source: ©Jens Kreuter, 07.04.2018, Unsplash