This is not to say that Mother isn't a deserving choice. It's the story of a woman out to prove her son's innocence in a local murder. Word is that it's a very good picture. Trivia note! This is Bong Joon-ho's first Oscar submission. He's best known for the hit monster movie The Host which will be needlessly remade for America -- it's hardly inaccessible as is!
Foreign films make up a teensy sliver of US box office and their market share seems to be sadly shrinking. In other countries, the box office pie is divided up mostly between Hollywood pictures and homegrown efforts.
Glancing at the charts from Korean Cinema Today -- I've just added the flags to the chart for ease of categorization -- you can see that they're actually flocking to their own films. China is the only other country (besides the US) to figure in with the star-heavy Red Cliff 2. It's kind of odd to see the much maligned Terminator Salvation at the tippity top of any box office hits chart but there it is in print.
While Korean films have often won praise on the festival circuit and found fans in arthouses, they've yet to be nominated for an Oscar. Here are their most recent submissions (links to Netflix for the available titles):
- 2008 Crossing Over by Tae-Gyun Kim
- 2007 Secret Sunshine by Chang Dong Lee. This film won Do-yeon Jeon Best Actress at Cannes. The jury made a fine choice. She's sensational in the picture, giving a rangey nuanced, furious and tearjerking performance.
- 2006 The King and the Clown by Jun ik-Lee. You can't rent this gayish period epic for some reason but you can watch it online
- 2005 Welcome to Dongmakol by Kwang-Hyun Park
- 2004 Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War by Kang Je-Gyu
- 2003 Spring, Summer, Fall Winter... and Spring (pictured left) by Kim Ki-Duk . I'm still sad that Oscar passed over this profoundly moving elegantly structured picture.
- 2002 Oasis by Lee Chang-Dong