Seoul is the capital of South Korea: in terms of density figures, the city is twice as populous as New York. As well as being the business and financial hub of the country, it’s also been the location in which a number of unforgettable movies have been shot; here are five of the best of them:
This jet black comedy thriller was released in 2019 and picked up a slew of well-deserved awards, including that of Best Foreign Film at the 77th Academy Awards, the first South Korean film to ever do so. Parasite also won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and was ranked as number one in the list of seventy-seven films of the year compiled by movie critics.
The majority of the filming of Parasite took place in locations around Seoul and in Jeonju, a town about a four-hour drive from the capital. Sites in Seoul associated with the film have now become popular tourist attractions, with film tours regularly running to ferry visitors to each of the destinations that feature in the film: these spots include the Jahamun Tunnel, the Dwaeji Sal Supermarket, the stairs seen in KiTaek’s village, and the Sky Pizza outlet. The latter is a real food outlet tucked away in a residential area in the Donjak-Gu district of the capital; tourists can frequently be seen taking photos of its bright orange sign, which features in the film and sampling its food. The restaurant is tiny and can only seat ten diners: on the inside, visitors can see the actual pizza boxes on display that were folded by the characters in a scene from the movie!
Star Trek Beyond
The thirteenth film in the Star Trek saga, Star Trek Beyond, hit cinemas in 2016. The film grossed $343.5 million worldwide and was shot partly on the neon-lit streets of Seoul, which were used to provide one of the atmospheric alien-world backdrops in the movie. Star Trek Beyond was a massive box office hit and bagged an Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Hair and Make Up at the 2017 Academy Awards.
The film sees the crew of the Enterprise stranded on an unknown planet after their ship is destroyed by a contingent of unknown hostile aliens; with apparently no way to escape the planet they find themselves washed up on, they become increasingly aware that a galactic war is on the horizon…
The Bourne Legacy
Released in 2012, this action-thriller is the fourth installment in the blockbusting Bourne franchise and the first not to feature Matt Damon in the starring role. The film was one of the first big-budget Hollywood movies to be shot in the South Korean capital, and locations including subway stations in the Gangnam region of the city, among other spots, were used as a backdrop to the action.
For filmmakers just getting started in the industry, it may not be practical in terms of time and resources to visit other countries or hard-to-reach destinations, and this is where free stock footage can be a big help. The carefully considered incorporation of footage, edited into your production with care, can take your film to the next level, providing depth, realism, and scope, and is accessible for those with even the smallest budgets.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
This Avengers film was the eleventh installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe collection of movies; it was released in 2015, having been shot at countries around the world, including South Africa, England, and South Korea. Locations used in Seoul were the Cheongdam Bridge, Digital Media City, Gangnam Boulevard, and a site near the Kaywon University of Art and Design in Uiwang.
For tourists wishing to view some of these set locations, the Gangnam District was where some of the scenes of Ultron’s attack on the city were filmed, while a man-made island on the Han River served as the headquarters of an IT institute that appeared in the movie. As part of the Seoul filming, the crew captured footage by attaching cameras to race cars and drones to get some innovative camera angles and promote a sense of urgency and action in the scenes where these techniques were used.
A cult classic whose visceral influence can be seen as genre-shifting – and definitely not one for the faint of heart – Oldboy was shot in Seoul and Busan in South Korea, with the final scenes filmed in New Zealand. The movie came out in 2003 and won the coveted Grand Prix at the following year’s Cannes Film Festival. Old Boy is a noir psychological drama that is based on the Japanese manga of the same name and follows the story of a man who finds himself imprisoned in a cell that resembles a hotel room for fifteen years, with no idea of the reasons behind his captivity or the identities of the individuals behind it.
Since its release, it has been included in many lists and books that cite the best films of the 2000s and is widely regarded by critics as being one of the best neo-noir films ever released.