Calling all IFFR KINO fans with a dark sense of humour: on Wednesday 6 November we’re screening Memories of Murder (IFFR 2014), Bong Joon Ho’s black comedy about the as-of-yet unsolved crimes of South Korea’s ‘first registered serial killer’.

This melancholy and humorous drama by Bong Joon Ho (whose Parasite recently won the Palme d’or in Cannes) was the big hit of 2003 in South Korea. The film is set in 1986, when the country was ruled by a repressive military regime and the police did their best to hunt the first Korean serial killer.

Bong's attention is not so much focused on the murderer, but all the more on the men trying to catch him. The local police, led by the bruiser Park, use unorthodox and unacceptable means to try and get concessions out of the obvious suspects. The arrival of the routined, methodical big-city detective Seo naturally leads to conflicts within the police force.

With a fresh gallows humour, Memories of Murder keeps the viewer on their toes, as if the characters are resisting their own clichés. They are all antiheroes, who are powerless due to the context of the dictatorial and military state of 1980s South Korea, where oppression is a part of life and Cold War paranoia still permeates. The result is a drama with a moving and shocking undertone, that smoothly changes gears throughout its duration: from comedy to psychological detective to socio-historic document. But above all, Bong's second feature film is funny and thrilling.

Bong Joon Ho, 2003, South Korea, 127’, Korean, English subtitles

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