Best Kim Min-hee Movies, Ranked – MovieWeb

After her appearance in The Handmaiden, Kim Min-hee became a global favorite. From On a Beach Alone at Night to Helpless, these are her best movies.
Actress Kim Min-hee, working in her native South Korea, has become one of the most recognizable actors working in Korean cinema right now. Some actors’ careers are paved by the number of collaborations they do with a certain director, and Kim’s played out in the same manner. She is frequent in the auteur Hong Sang-soo’s films, making her a staple in the international film festivals, whether it is Cannes Film Festival or Toronto International Film Festival, alongside the director and his work. Formerly a fashion model in her youth, she was criticized for poor acting when she first tried to break into the industry.
It was this criticism that rose again when Kim’s affair with director Hong Sang-soo, a married man, came to light. A part of this backlash stems from classic sexism. Hong did not get as much criticism as she did, which led to losing jobs, contracts, and gigs for Kim. Despite this, Kim has managed to prove the haters wrong and create a unique set of characters throughout Hong’s filmography. It is for this reason The New York Times ranked her as one of the greatest actors of the 21st Century. Best known globally for The Handmaiden, Kim Min-hee’s body of work is worth studying for her performances alone, especially with the newest releases of The Novelist’s Film and Walk Up. These are the best movie she has been in so far.
The 2012 movie Helpless was adapted from a Japanese novel titled All She Was Worth, which was written by Miyabe Miyuki. Kim Min-hee and Parasite’s Kim Sun-kyun star as a couple on their way to meet his parents outside Seoul. They are due to be married in a few days, but as they stop for coffee at a rest stop, Jang Mun-ho returns to the car only to discover that his fiancée has disappeared without a trace. He returns to Seoul, only to find out that her apartment has been broken into, and there is a lot more to his fiancée’s story than he realized, to begin with. Helpless was the most popular Korean movie released in 2012.
No Tears for the Dead is a classic Korean action film. It stars Jang Dong-gun as Gon, a professional hitman who kills a young girl and is then assigned to take care of her mother (Kim Min-hee). When he returns to Seoul and tracks his victim from a distance, he starts to have remorse for what he has done. Eventually, he switches sides, attempting to protect the mother from any danger as everyone begins to close in on her — and him.
Related: Best LGBTQ+ Korean Movies, Ranked
The Day After has become one of Hong Sang-soo’s most notable movies in the past decade. A man who runs a publishing house, Bongwan, wakes up one early morning and decides to take a walk. During that time, he reminisces about a woman who recently left him. At the office, a new secretary has been hired, replacing the one he had an affair with, and she is just as beautiful to him as the previous one. But when his wife discovers a love poem at home, she gathers her rage and heads to the office, thinking the new secretary is the one her husband cheated on her with.
Isabelle Huppert is the main star of Claire’s Camera, marking a collaboration across languages and locations. In Claire’s Camera, Kim Min-hee is Man-hee, a worker at a Korean film distribution company who has just been fired because she had sex with a director at Cannes Film Festival. A French teacher travels to Cannes, making the two’s paths intersect in an act of fate. The two hit it off, finding out they have a common connection, and bond over simple things, like having Korean food for the first time in a hotel room. Related: The Novelist's Film Review: Yet Another Cyclical Hong Sang-soo Movie
Kim Min-hee shines in On A Beach Alone At Night, making it one of her best works — and one of the best movies she has been in. She portrays Young-hee, a struggling actress whose career is starting to disappear into the past. She has been in a relationship with a married man in Korea — marking parallels to the autobiographic nature of Hong’s films and Kim’s roles in them — and finds herself stressed out about that, too. There is a particular layer of authenticity in this Hong film, especially as Kim’s character wanders the picturesque beaches of the setting and wonders about the nature of her relationship and its future.
Park Chan-wook dazzled the world when he came out with the seductive movie The Handmaiden. Kim Min-hee and Kim Tae-ri play off of each other as a Japanese countess and a maid and thief, ultimately delving into an LGBTQ+ romance set in colonial Korea and Imperial Japan. Full of twists and turns, as well as beautiful imagery, The Handmaiden is one of the most important films in Korean cinema during the 2010s. It was on many critics and fans’ top ten lists alike, a testament to how well-loved the story was around the world.
Writer, author, critic. Find me at @ashleynassarine


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