With the release of "Exit - Movie" the history of South Korean disaster movies is in full focus. Because of the budget requirements for the special effects necessary to make disaster movies, new ones only come out every few years. With the last spurt of disaster movies occurring in 2016, enough time has passed to make the genre seem fresh again.
"Haeundae" from 2009 was the first major South Korean disaster movie and a testament to how far the South Korean film industry had come since its humble beginnings, that such a large ensemble piece could even be developed. Here the disaster was a massive tsunami that trashes the city of Busan. Conceptually it's the most generic South Korean disaster movie of note.
"The Tower" from 2012 depicts an out of control fire on a high rise building and centers around efforts by firefighters trying to save people from that catastrophe. "The Tower" bucks the trends of disaster movies coming out in summertime - the movie is set during Christmas Eve and set during that same time frame.
"The Terror Live" from 2013 starts a trend of more politically conscious disaster films. Additionally, in this movie the disaster in question is a terrorist attack, rather than something arising from nature. The socially conscious approach to the disaster genre, localized around domestic South Korean politics, led to the movie gaining more serious critical praise relative to its predecessors.
The mega-hit "Train to Busan" from 2016, while strictly speaking a zombie movie, is more of a disaster movie in execution, because the movie depicts the immediate aftermath of a zombie outbreak. This is in strict contrast to the post-apocalyptic setting more popular in contemporary zombie fiction, which was just one of many ways "Train to Busan" distinguished itself.
"Tunnel", also from 2016, took a more personal approach, as the disaster only really affects one person - the hapless main character who is trapped in a cave-in. As such, the emphasis is more on the human element of being utterly trapped, with many of the same comic and political overtones that characterized "Train to Busan".
Written by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's News] "Exit - Movie" Latest in Long Line of South Korean Disaster Movies"
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