From Our Shelves: Korean Horror Film Collection


Korean film: The Host

Just in time for Halloween, EAS at OSUL would like to introduce our Korean Horror Film Collection!

한 (Han) in Korean Horror films

Modern Korean horror films are unique because they serve as contemporary reflections of the Korean concept of 한 (Han). 한 (Han) is roughly translated as hatred or resentment, but extends much further– it refers to the unresolved, lingering collective pain that resides in the Korean psyche, born from the nation’s often traumatic history. Theologian Suj Nam-dong described 한 (Han) as the “feeling of unresolved resentment against injustices suffered, a sense of helplessness because of the overwhelming odds against one, a feeling of acute pain in one’s guts and bowels, making the whole body writhe and squirm, and an obstinate urge to take revenge and to right the wrong—all these combined.” (Yoo, 1988) The concept of 한 (Han), with its connotations of revenge and suppressed rage, permeate Korean horror films, most obviously through ghostly manifestations of revenge, but also through common themes, motivations, and motifs.

Korean films are a part of 한류 (Hallyu)

Modern Korean horror films are also important as they are a component of 한류 (Hallyu), or the Korean Wave. 한류 (Hallyu) is the global spread and increased popularity of Korean popular culture, including K-pop (Korean pop music), K-dramas (Korean soap operas), and Korean films.  Many of the most popular and well-known Korean films abroad have been horror films, including the recent Train to Busan (Original title: 부산행 / Busanhaeng) and monster movie The Host (Original title: 괴물 / Gwoemul).

Influential Korean Horror Films

Below are some of the most influential Korean horror films that can be found EAS at OSUL’s collection. Please note that users must have OSU credentials to access movies through Kanopy.

Whispering Corridors (1998)– This classic Korean horror film can be seen as sparking the Korean horror film resurgence in the 1990s, and it helped define the genre, starting the trend of using female ghosts, high school settings, and repressed, unending 한 (Han) as major themes. It was the first in a series of popular Korean horror films, including  Memento Mori (1999), Wishing Stairs (2003), Voice (2005), and A Blood Pledge (2009). Although each entry into the series share a high school setting, the plots, characters, and locations unrelated. The original film deals with a teacher who returns to her former high school as mysterious murders begin to occur.


A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) – Another influential Korean horror film, A Tale of Two Sisters is based on the folk tale, Janghwa Hongreyon-jon. The story centers around two young girls returning home from a mental institution to their father and evil stepmother, and the supernatural events that begin upon their arrival. It won many awards both domestic and abroad, and spawned a Hollywood remake: The Uninvited.


The Host (2007) – Korea’s take on the monster genre, The Host was the top grossing South Korean movie of all time when it was released, and features a cast and crew which would later go on to become international stars, including director Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer, Okja), actress Bae Doo-na (Cloud Atlas, Sense8), and actor Song Kang-Ho (Joint Security Area, Sympathy for Mr. Vengence).  The story revolves around a giant, hideous creature that emerges from the Han river and kidnaps a man’s daughter. The man and his family then set out on a rescue mission to save the little girl.

Other Korean Horror movies available at OSUL:

Phone. Directed by Ahn Byeong-ki. Starring Ha Ji-won and Kim Yoo-mi

Sorum. Directed by Yoon Jong-chan. Starring Kim Myung-min and Jang Jin-young

Root of Evil (Acacia) . Directed by Park Ki-hyeong. Starring  Shim Hye-jin.

For information about the Korean Horror genre, please check out some of EAS’s resources (links below):, Starring The Red Shoes. Directed by , Starring

Peirse, A., & Martin, D. (2013). Korean horror cinema. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Choi, J., & Wada-Marciano, M. (2009). Horror to the Extreme Changing Boundaries in Asian Cinema. Hong Kong University Press, HKU.


Yoo, Boo-wong (1988). Korean Pentecostalism: Its History and Theology. New York: Verlag Peter Lang. p. 221.

From Our Shelves: Hansik segyehwa ch’ŏn chi in (한식 세계화 천, 지, 인) Volumes 2 & 3

Title Screen of the QTV documentary and Screen Shot from Vol. 3

Local hyŏnjihwa chi: hansik, sŭt’ail ŭl yŏlda! (Local 현지화 地: 한식, 스타일을 열다!) and Chef yorisa in: son kkŭt ŭro segye rŭl yori hada! (Chef 요리사 人: 손끝으로 세계를 요리하다!) are volumes two and three of Hansik segyehwa ch’ŏn chi in (한식 세계화 천지인), a documentary on Korean food (한식):

  • v.1 – Global segyehwa ch’ŏn: hansik, nyuyok’ŏ ŭi immat ŭl saro chapta (Global 세계화 天: 한식, 뉴요커의 입맛을 사로잡다!)
  • v.2 – Local hyŏnjihwa chi: hansik, sŭt’ail ŭl yŏlda! (Local 현지화 地: 한식, 스타일을 열다!)
  • v.3 – Chef yorisa in: son kkŭt ŭro segye rŭl yori hada! (Chef 요리사 人: 손끝으로 세계를 요리하다!)

The first volume is discussed in a separate blog which can be accessed by clicking here

As Korean culture, commonly in the form of dramas and music, begins to rise in popularity, an interest in the culture’s food grows as well. Volume two begins with a group of non-Korean business men discussing the potential that Korean food has around the world. Rather than focus on one area, like volume one did with New York, this portion of the documentary visits Korean chefs all around the world who are working to spread their culture’s food.

One of the chefs introduced is Kim Sohyi, who owns a restaurant chain in Austria. She is well known for her creative recipes and success in creating Korean dishes that continue to attract customers. Instead of sticking to traditional Korean recipes, Kim considers the people in her local area. This is one of the main themes of volume two: making food that is Korean, while incorporating local food trends and tastes.

Volume three focuses on different chefs who, like Kim Sohyi, work to modernize and update Korean food. While the documentary does introduce the viewers to various chefs, the focus lies on the types of ingredients used and the importance of presentation. There are also segments showing the process of becoming a chef in both Korea and Europe.

The first chef introduced, Nobu Matsuhisa, describes his efforts to create fusion foods that contain fresh Japanese ingredients. Matsuhisa also talks about his students and what training they must go through before taking over their own Nobu franchise. Another prominent chef mentioned is Yim Jung Sik who owns restaurants not only in Korea, but around the world. The documentary follows him as he purchases ingredients and presents new recipes that create a unique spin on Korean dishes.

For more information available at OSUL about Korean food:


From Our Shelves: Hansik segyehwa ch’ŏn chi in (한식 세계화 천, 지, 인) Volume 1

Title Screen of QTV documentary.

Title Screen of the QTV documentary

Global segyehwa ch’ŏn: hansik, nyuyok’ŏ ŭi immat ŭl saro chapta (Global 세계화 天: 한식, 뉴요커의 입맛을 사로잡다!) is the first volume of Hansik segyehwa ch’ŏn chi in (한식 세계화 천지인), a documentary on Korean food (한식):

  • v.1 – Global segyehwa ch’ŏn: hansik, nyuyok’ŏ ŭi immat ŭl saro chapta (Global 세계화 天: 한식, 뉴요커의 입맛을 사로잡다!)
  • v.2 – Local hyŏnjihwa chi: hansik, sŭt’ail ŭl yŏlda! (Local 현지화 地: 한식, 스타일을 열다!)
  • v.3 – Chef yorisa in: son kkŭt ŭro segye rŭl yori hada! (Chef 요리사 人: 손끝으로 세계를 요리하다!).

The documentary explores the rising popularity of Korean food in New York.  This volume covers a multitude of sources ranging from popular Korean restaurants to everyday people who enjoy the food. The focus of this documentary is the increased globalization of Korean food with an emphasis on New York. Continue reading

Reading Suggestions For Students Learning Korean

OSUL has added several new titles to the Korean Extensive Reading resource. Below are some of the titles and their summaries:
Continue reading

From our Shelves: Post-Korean War Literature

문학 과 이데올로기 (left) and The Square by In-hun Choi (right)

While recovering from the Korean War one of the goals of South Korea was to create a new sense of national identity through literature, resulting in many nationalistic works.

In-Hun Choi (최인훈) was an author who steered Korean literature away from these nationalistic tendencies. Instead, he led literature towards themes such as human psychology and social conditions in novels full of groundbreaking literary techniques. Continue reading

From Our Shelves: Books and Articles on Contemporary Theater

Many establishments in South Korea promote contemporary theater. The Seoul Performing Arts Company  performs at many international events,  the Sejong Center for Performing Arts is considered to be among the top ten art centers in the world according to Theatre in Korea, and the National Theater of Korea has several programs that promote theater.

Continue reading

From Our Shelves: 천년학 (Beyond the Years)

Beyond the Years

Beyond The Years – DVD Inside Spread

The film 천년학 (Beyond the Years) tells the tale of an adopted youth 동호 (Dong-ho). He falls in love with his sister, 송화 (Song-hwa) who is also adopted. Both Dong-ho and Song-hwa are taught the Korean traditional performance style of p’ansori. P’ansori is one of the National Intangible Cultural Properties in Korean culture. It is described as musical story-telling accompanied by a drummer.

Continue reading

From Our Shelves: Resources on P’ansori

P’ansori (판소리)is a fundamental aspect of traditional Korean culture.  It is sometimes referred to as a “one-man opera”, and has four distinct characteristics: it is musical, it is a solo oral technique, it is dramatic, and it is in verse. The performer, called kwangdae, is joined on stage only by a drummer and alternates between speaking and singing. The “stage” was traditionally a large mat, and the kwangdae used only a fan and his clothing for props. To learn more, see What is P’ansori? (OSUL login required) by Marshall R. Pihl (Chicago Review, 1993)

One of the most popular p’ansori songs is “Song of Ch’unhyang” or Chunhyangga (춘향가). Chunhyangga has several different scenes, ranging from peaceful to sad, from humorous to serious. Chunhyangjeon (춘향전) is the book based on the song.

  • OSUL’s copy of Chunhyangga (춘향가) can be accessed here
  • OSUL’s copy of  Chunhyangjeon (춘향전) can be accessed here (v.1)

Chan E. Park, a professor of Korean language, literature, and performance studies at The Ohio State University, specializes in in p’ansori. You can see a performance by Professor Park here.

Books (in Korean) about p’ansori in OSUL:

Books (in English) about p’ansori in OSUL:

Online articles about p’ansori (OSUL login required)

From Our Shelves: Books and Articles on Traditional Theater

This blog is the first of a three part blog series about Korean theater. The second blog will cover P’ansori, while the third blog will be about contemporary Korean theater.

Traditional Korean theater has a rich and diverse history. According to Remapping the Korean Theatre Tradition by Jungman Park, theaters of the Chosun era were ingrained in the culture of the minjung, or the commoners. There were several different styles of theater, including  탈춤 (talchum), 판소리 (p’ansori), 그림자극 (geurimja-geuk ), and 인형극 (inhyeong-geuk). Park explains that talchum is a mask dance, geurimja-geuk is a shadow drama, and inhyeong-geuk is a puppet show.  P’ansori, one of the more popular forms of traditional Korean theater, is an epic song performance.

Books (in Korean) about traditional Korean theater in OSUL:

Books (in English) about traditional Korean theater in OSUL:

Online article about traditional Korean theater (OSUL login required):

From Our Shelves: Book and Drama Adaptations

Dramas are a significant part of culture in South Korea, and have initiated a “Korean Wave”, or “Hallyu”, which is the spread of Korean culture across the globe. From historical and trendy dramas to melodramas, these captivating Korean television programs attract a broad and diverse audience.

OSUL has several books that are either based on dramas or have been turned into dramas.

Books turned into dramas in OSUL:  

마녀유희, 해 를 품은 달 , 압구정다이어리

Covers of 마녀유희, 해 를 품은 달 , 압구정다이어리

  • 해 를 품은 달  (Hae rŭl p’umŭn talby 정은궐(Chŏng, Ŭn-gwŏl) (파란, 2011)
    • This historical drama, which includes elements of fantasy, tells of the love story between a fictional king and a shaman, along with the numerous political conflicts that are encountered along the way.
    •  MBC Link 
  • 마녀유희 (Manyŏ Yu-hŭi) by 김수희 (Kim, Su-hŭi) (눈과마음, 2007)
    • This novel is about the love life of a woman who is often called “witch” by her coworkers.
    • SBS Link
  • 압구정다이어리 (Apkujŏng daiŏriby 정수현 (Chŏng, Su-hyŏn) (소담출판사, 2008)
    • This novel follows the affluent and glamorous lives of the young elite in South Korea. The production of this tvN drama was unfortunately cancelled.

Dramas turned into books in OSUL:

  • 마이 프린세스 (My Princess) by 손현경(Son, Hyŏn-gyŏng) (MBC 프로덕션, 2011)
    • This romantic comedy is about a college student who discovers she is the descendant
      of Emperor Sunjong, who was the last Emperor of Korea, and falls in love with a wealthy businessman.

      Drama Books 2

      Covers of 동이, 마이 프린세스, 선덕 여왕

    • 순종 황제 와 친인척 (Sunjong Hwangje wa ch’ininch’ŏk) by 지두환 (Chi, Tu-hwan) (A biography of Emperor Sunjong available in OSUL)
    •  MBC Link 
  • 선덕 여왕 (Sŏndŏk Yŏwang) by 류 은경 (Yu, Ŭn-gyŏng) (MBC 프로덕션, 2009) This historical drama is very loosely based on the life of Queen Seon Deok.
  • 동이 (Tongi) by 정재인 (Chŏng, Chae-in) (MBC 프로덕션, 2010) This is another historical drama that is loosely based on another famous historical woman figure.
    Drama books 3

    Covers of 인현 왕후 의 男子, 신사 의 품격

  • 인현 왕후 의 男子 : 드라마 대본집 (Inhyŏn Wanghu ŭi namja : tŭrama taebonjipby  송 재정 (Song, Chae-jŏng) (이 퍼블릭, 2012)
    • This item is not a novel, but rather a screenplay of the historical/fantasy drama of the romance between an actress and a time-travelling man of the Joseon Dynasty.
    • tvN Link
  • 신사 의 품격  (Sinsa ŭi p’umkyŏk) by 박민숙  (Pak, Min-suk) (문학 동네, 2012)
    • This drama is about the romantic and professional lives of four men.
    • SBS Link

Book in OSUL about Korean dramas

DBpia articles about Korean dramas (OSUL login required)

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