18 Dec 2022

South Korean popular culture - why has it conquered the world?

From Standing Room Only, 12:41 pm on 18 December 2022

Michael Stephens Photo: supplied

Nick Ward

Nick Ward Photo: supplied


This year marked a first at Cannes - both the winning films came from the same country, South Korea, Decision to leave and Broker.  

But South Korea has been making its presence felt across the board recently - the Oscar winning Parasite, TV sensations like Snowpiercer and The Squid Game, hugely popular romcoms and action flicks on Netflix, not to mention the K Pop phenomenon.  

Right now the biggest bands in the world are Korean boy bands like BTS and girl groups like Blackpink.

The first time Korean films crossed Simon Morris's path, they seemed to belong firmly in the "genre" area - monster movies, brutal crime stories, martial arts.   

But suddenly they're bigger than that - far bigger.  It's like the Golden Age of Hollywood in the Thirties and Forties.   So what's Korea's secret?

Simon talks with Michael Stephens, longtime chair of the Korean Cinerama Trust, and also crack screenwriter Nick Ward, a regular on the Seoul Screenplay Development Support Programme.