15 BEAUTIFUL Mature Korean Films: Watch If You Dare
I come from a religious family. Well, the first time I sneaked and watched a film that contained a kiss was when I was 12. The whole extended family was gathering in the front yard when I dragged my cousin and sneaked upstairs to my grandparents’ living room. The TV was there and there was a film on. I remember we watched few films before but they were all children films, no touching, much less kissing. I still remember the vividness of the kiss for my cousin and me. The fact that we watched something forbidden made it a thousand times more thrilling.
It was later that I found out that the kiss itself was not wrong. That I did nothing wrong I should feel guilty about. Theoretically speaking, when I became an adult, I knew there was nothing wrong with an adult watching adult content. If I were watching a film and a nude scene came, it was fine. But I couldn’t carry it off. Enrique Iglesias has been my favourite singer since I was 14 and I couldn’t watch a full MV of his until I was 20. I’d stop after 30 seconds. In my head it was no problem, but I was raised differently. Now I watch all kinds of films, unscathed. But I’ve gone through the whole journey.
Why am I saying this?
I fully understand people who don’t like mature content or find it offending. Pious people find it the most appalling. Chastity and purity are stressed upon in all holy books. Adult films don’t tend to celebrate that much. Other people think it’s unnecessary to indulge into sexual scenes when you can express the idea in different ways. Some can’t tolerate watching their stars shooting such scenes. Have you heard of Rebecca Schaeffer? A young and beautiful American actress. She died at the beautiful age of 21 when her stalker shot her for shooting a bed scene and becoming a ‘’Hollywood whore’’. Oh please! I’m not alluding at anything! Some people find adult content embarrassing. Some cannot identify the reason for their loathing. Freud can help with that. Whatever the reason, we can’t tell someone they’re wrong because they don’t like something we like or are ok with. We cannot judge people by the things they’re offended by, or we shouldn’t.
Personally, I find the right amount of sexual content not only beautiful but necessary. I’m against exaggerating. I’m against including sex and nude scenes every 3 minutes and calling it a film. I’m against sex for sex’s sake. This is not the porn industry. Still, sex is one of the main components of life and it comes naturally with love. Once in Classical Literature and Mythology class in the B.A, we were discussing The Odyssey and I was frustrated to hell because of Odysseus’ flirting. I don’t know how the discussion turned to platonic love when the calm professor raised his voice for the first time and said: ‘’there is nothing as platonic love. It doesn’t work that way. You cannot simply separate heart, mind and body.’’ After a while I realised, my professor was right.
This special article is for those who are not offended by sex and nudity, for those who think it’s ok for us to be honest with our own feelings and desires, for those who celebrate the beauty of the human body and relationships. Welcome to my beautiful +18 Korean cinema.
1) A Frozen Flower
Oops, too bad. The conspiracy of homosexuality being a modern Western phenomenon trying to devour the world and alter the nature of people and lead them to eternal damnation didn’t work. Why? Because homosexuality has always been there. Because it’s not a phenomenon. It’s not an abnormality. It’s just a tendency. And it’s existed since the beginning of time.
Hey yo sageuk fans! Let’s test your knowledge of Korean kings. Have you heard of King Gongmin? Of course you have, if you watched the film I’m recommending here or either Faith or The Great Seer. I haven’t watched The Great Seer but I have watched Faith. Remember the adorable king played by Ryu Deok Hwan. Yeah and the love story with Park Se Young. True, King Gongmin did marry the queen played by Park Se Young but what Faith omitted, A Frozen Flower included. King Gongmin had many male followers, who served as well as sexual partner. Of course nobody is sure. We’re talking history. And nobody can check the accuracy of it. What concerns us here is the film. A Frozen Flower traces the sexual adventures of King Gongmin (Jo Jin Mo) in a romantic way. So he falls in love as a teenager with one of his followers and as he grows up they become lovers. Their love is threatened when the follower (Jo In Sung) hits epiphany as he experiences sex for the first time with a woman (Song Ji Hyo). Expectedly, the love triangle leads to a tragedy. The three miserable people express their love and passion with every bit of their existence, knowing they don’t have much time. Allow me to use love scenes instead of sex scenes. When you watch this film you’ll realise where the term ‘’making love’’ comes from. The despair, pain, eagerness, passion and love the actors present in those love scenes refine them from any negative connotations the word sex might have. You don’t need to know the back story. You don’t need to understand what they say. Just watch them as they engage in the act of pure ecstasy, of beautiful profound love. The film is number 1 in this article and number one of the highest on my adult-film list. It is utterly beautiful.
2) Portrait of a Beauty
Confucianism came and robbed women of the few right they enjoyed in Shilla and Goryeo. Joseon chose Confucianism and by choosing it pronounced life imprisonment on women. Confucianism stressed the importance of chastity, submission to the male figure and belonging to everyone else but themselves; father, husband, son and in-laws. Who would stop those in charge from using such religion to their purposes? Policies that restricted women flowed in. By a certain point, women were not allowed to do anything; no studying, no horse riding, no games, no outdoor activities, nothing. Women became a machine for producing children. My bad, male children. They had no say in any matter. They only needed to lie down and get pregnant. What did disobeying the male figure in any aspect of life mean? Guess!
In such a society, what would happen if a talented female disguised herself as a male, worked in the royal court and even got a male lover? Brilliant! A one-way ticket, to hell. Writer Lee Jung Myung chose one of the legendary Korean painters, Shin Yun Bok, and wrote a novel portraying that painter as a woman in disguise. The novel was adapted in the drama Painter of the Wind as well as our film, Portrait of a Beauty. Shin Yun Bok (Kim Gyu Ri) has lived her entire life as a boy. She meets a carefree common guy (Kim Nam Gil) –yes, holy crap- who introduces her to the world outside the court. She lets him lead her into the new world of beauty and love. What she experiences, what she sees, what she touches, what she feels, she brings to life again in her paintings. She refuses to exchange the happiness she enjoyed even on the expense of her life. You can see sheer bliss in her eyes as she faces her accusers. And you find cheering her own, wanting her to win, desperately.
– Erotomania is a delusion that occurs when a person strongly believes—despite evidence to the contrary—that a person is in love with him or her.
– Jealousy is an often overwhelming feeling of insecurity about a potential loss or inequity in distribution of resources. Although jealousy is commonly used interchangeably with envy, the two are distinct emotions: While jealousy can be described as a fear that someone else may take something that a person considers to be one’s own, envy is the desire for something that belongs to someone else…. Jealousy can have dangerous implications: It is the third most common motive for murder.
No, this is not an online dictionary. Just trying to help you figure the actions of the female lead of Thorn (played by Jo Bo Ah). Using the term obsession here won’t do because I’m trying to use medical terms. So we have a school girl who’s ‘’enchanted’’ by her charismatic [hot] male teacher (Jang Hyuk). When the male teacher starts caring for the girl, the girl loses her sense of reality, and things start happening in her head; love, sex and even pregnancy. She totally believes in what she sees in her mind and she acts upon it. Things go out of hands when those involved try to show her that it’s all unreal. A crazy film with marvellous camera work.
4) All about My Wife
What’s better to have your wife (Im Su jeong) divorce you than having her seduced by another man (Ryu Seung Ryeong)? Genius Lee Sun Kyun! But the seducer needs to know the wife to seduce her, and here the fun starts. A story of love in the real world. No beautifying. A housewife is not the same lovely girl you met and fell in love with at first sight. Men need to understand this. Just like the caring gentleman you met and dated is not the same husband you spend every day with. Between expectations and reality, original and fake, beauty and disguise, our story happens. Sexy and funny, a great film to lighten up the heart.
5) Plum Blossom
Why is coming of age important? Because it determines the future, because it moulds the personality, because it finds the dreams, or doesn’t. Why is coming of age sad? Because it’s complicated, because it’s dark, because it’s lonely. You either find your essence then, or have a really hard time at finding it later. Life is a journey, right. Not everyone has their life planned for them before they hit twenty, right. But also not everyone is a phoenix that comes out of the ashes alive. Not everyone is a snake that sheds its dead skin and enjoys rebirth. Not everyone is lucky enough to escape misfortunes. Not everyone is capable of winning against their dark sides. In this tormenting tale of two friends (Kim Rae Won & Kim Jung Hyun), one survives the harsh years, the other doesn’t. One decides to live with his load of misery; the other decides to give in to the sweet depth of emptiness. The two indulge in physical pleasure as a way of escapism, the two fail.
Love, that mysterious excuse for all the beautiful and the deplorable acts of human beings. ‘’But I loved her.’’ ‘’Because I loved him.’’ Out of love is the one excuse I’d rather not listen to, even though it’s the most real. With individual interpretations of the eternal concept, we’d definitely have all kinds of meanings. Some people would even live a life not their own in order to gain the ‘’love’’ of someone. Addiction? It’s just a synonym for love in certain contexts, like our film here. For those not involved, it might be addiction, it might be obsession, and it might be madness. But for the man in love (Lee Byung Hun), it’s love. Pure love.
‘’I saw her first. I loved her first.’’
Have you ever thought of this question, how scary can the human become? I have, many and many a time. OldBoy presented me with one example. ‘’You wonder! Here you go!’’ Honestly, I regret asking the question. I always do. I don’t want to know. I’m not curious. Knowledge is poison. Seeking knowledge might end you up like Foust, selling your soul to the devil. God forbid! I usually don’t read other people’s comments on something I like. There’s no reason to make your blood boil because of what others think. But I happened to glimpse some of the comments on this film. ‘’ Disgusting. Terrible. Blasphemous. Gross. Disturbing. Sick. Revolting. I regret watching this. How does any one watch this?’’ etc… Digestible. Plausible feedback. The film even has incest. Oh! Incest! It’s not something even my open mind can tolerate. But people it’s not that simple. The film is not a simple romance story celebrating ‘’love in all forms’’ and presenting incestuous relationships. Not one bit. It’s a psychological journey. Revenge, hallucination, hypnosis, triggers, Electra complex and masochism, to mention a few. Talk of intensity, madness, violence, shocking revelations, plot twists, tears, screams, by the characters and the audience.
Oldboy is a masterpiece, whether we agree with the content or not, whether we feel disgusted such relationships being packaged as love or not, whether we relate or not, whether we identify or not and whether we sympathise or not. The writers wrote a groundbreaking script. The director gave life to every detail. The actors embodied the characters perfectly it ached.
But again, masterpieces are not for everyone.
8) My P.S Partner
If you’ve been in any of these situations raise your hand,
Ever had a phone friend that you’d never met or known their real name
Ever had a phone ‘’boyfriend’’ that you’d never met
Ever had online friends you had never seen and probably never will
Ever created fake accounts or pretended to be someone else
Ever borrowed your friend’s name
I can see your hands. People, let’s face it. WE ARE GODDAMN LONELY. And therefore we need someone. We all need someone. But it’s easier said than done. So we look everywhere. And eventually it doesn’t matter how. As long as there is someone.
Our friends in the film (Ji Sung & Kim Ah Joong) are lonely and heartbroken. Some goddess took mercy on their poor souls. Let’s call her Phone Goddess. So she created some coincidence, phone sex for a change. And we have our funny, lovely and sexy tale of two pained people finding comfort in one another.
9) Changing Partners
Some scientific studies claim that love runs out, that it has an expiry date. Whether the studies are reliable or not, we all know that not only love but different relationships cool down after sometime. People just get used to each other and the element of mystery and therefore excitement disappears. So, new people start catching the eye. The thrilling sensation returns. What we call adultery happens.
People, I find relationships rather simple. I’m not an expert and I will hear people screaming that it’s not that easy. But the way I see it, two people are married. They have no children, and they love other people. Break up for goodness’ sake.
My opinion doesn’t matter anyway. Our film narrates the story of two such couples. Interestingly, the stories are relatable. You’d sympathise with at least one couple, maybe not with the idea of cheating but with the reason behind it. The acting of the four leads is remarkable, especially Lee Dong Gun and Uhm Jung Hwa. Lots of adorable moments.
10) The Treacherous
I wonder if psychiatry was developed in the 15th century in Joseon, how would they diagnose the mental state of Prince Yeon San ? We all have violence in our nature. If we were to listen to Mr. Darwin, he’d explain it in simple terms. We developed from animals and therefor we inherited animal instincts. Animals needed violence and aggression to ensure their survival. But humans are the most developed species –or so they say- and everything evolved more, even violence. Prince Yeo San –who was actually a king but as you know the kings in Joseon who were dethroned didn’t get a temple name and a title (think Gwanghae). So Prince Yeo San, showed some violent bahvior in his young years but not to a threatening level. He started well as a king until he found out –or was told- of the concpiracy behind his mother’s death. That was the last straw. The poor guy lost his sanity. After that point he was a poor guy no longer. The atrocities history recorded exceeded all levels of human-animal-nature-based actions. Have you watched The King and The Clown? You know the psychopath of a king (Jeong Jin Yeong)? It’s the same king we talk about. But this time he’s acted by the brilliant villain Kim Kang Woo. Yeon San’s debauchery changed the fate of a whole nation. The things he did, exaggerated as they might be, were too shocking, too demoniacal, and too evil. And The Treacherous shows it all. In an outstanding performance where you cannot take your eyes off the brilliant actors and the breathtaking camera work, sex is presented in all its forms and shapes. If you know nothing about it, this film will serve as your sex education class for the next few years. The disturbing part is, it doesn’t get ugly. It gets crazy, insane. It sends shivers down the spine. It gives nightmares. But it’s never ugly. To be able to turn such painful period of human history into a beautiful artwork is never an easy matter. To be able to engrave the name of the king in the mind of someone who sucks at historical names –like me- doesn’t just happen. I would like to ask of you though, if you haven’t watched Kim Kang Woo and Joo Ji Hoon in good roles before, don’t start with this. You will never be able to like them again, trust me.
11) Petty Romance
We all have our sexual fantasies. We all have our little sexual secrets. Things we never talk about. Not even to our best friends. Not even to our online friends! Not even to our diaries! But we have them. When two people with huge misconceptions about the other gender (I’m only specifying twp genders here because that’s what the film does. You do know that there are more than 50 genders, right? Some studies mention up to 63), and cute and funny sexual fantasies meet to create an award-winning manhwa (comic), the most adorable love story with the funniest moment comes to life. Brand new approach to mature films, and a great try.
12) The Scent
Can a beautiful woman manipulate the whole world with her beauty? Answer is: yes. I would voluntarily get manipulated if a gorgeous lady like Park Si Yeon tried to.
Many scientific studies have tried to prove the connection between scent and sexual attraction. We really don’t have evidence. But we know it matters. It’s personal and it has to do with the subconscious, memories and preferences but it matters. Even the most sensational perfume won’t seduce the whole world. In this film though, when the right woman wears a certain perfume, she becomes irresistible. With just the right amount of humour and good looking charismatic men scattering around, this adult thriller provides a good ride.
13) Forbidden Quest
Allow me to use my close friend and Nebraska Mama Bernie’s words about the movie as my comment here:
Just finished Forbidden Quest. Goes from tragedy to ROF LMAO to tragedy…it’s schizo as all get out and fantastic fun. Beautifully filmed. 9/10 just for wonderfulness of the fun. Han Suk-Kyu, who I’ve seen in a couple films and think is wonderful, plays lead with Lee Beom-Soo (Prime Minister). And the very first time I’ve seen Ahn Nae-Sang play a role where he isn’t a caricature of idiocy and evilness. Definitely R rated, but comparatively little skin given the in your face topic of the movie. If you’re not easily offended by frank language about sex, presented in an amusing way, I highly recommend it for a couple hours of escapism!
Well, my only comment on Bernie’s comment is that the three actors are favourites of mine so I’ve watched many of their works. This is definitely one of their best.
14) Love, In Between
Can one like two people equally? My question, can a man love two women equally and at the same time and vice versa? In our film, the man believes he can. But what do the women involved think? For the first time, I sympathise with both women. I wished for a certain ending and it happened. It was a happy ending for me as a fellow woman. Loved the bondage that was born because of a man ‘’overflowing with love.’’ Not the best scenario but the best acting. It touches the right nerve.
1997’s Change celebrates the harmony between two people found in a supernatural soul exchange. 2013’s MisChange celebrates the disharmony, in a hilarious performance of the three leads. Typical love stories. A playboy and a shy best friend. Though the idea has been done many times, the film is fresh and extremely cute. Enjoyed every second of it and laughed my head off.
What do you think of the films mentioned? What are the mature films you found utterly beautiful? Do share your choices with us. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts.