• James Rutherford

'Memories of Murder': A Haunting Thriller Detailing the Hunt for South Korea's First Serial Killer


Movie poster for Memories of Murder

Memories of Murder (살인의 추억) (2003) is a meticulous and haunting South Korean crime thriller that begins in 1996 with the discovery of two murdered women on the outskirts of a rural Korean municipality. Detective Park Doo-man (Song Kang-ho) tackles the case with limited resources and is soon overwhelmed by his department's disarray—before the arrival of Seo Tae-yoon (Kim Sang-kyung), a determined young detective from Seoul.


As their investigation progresses and further victims are discovered, Park and Seo repeatedly clash over their conflicting styles—Park and his partner Cho Yong-koo (Roe-ha Kim) openly besieging suspects while Seo maintains a far more steadfast approach. Together they conclude that the killer targets women wearing red while walking on rainy evenings—each time a singular melody playing simultaneously on the local radio station. These clues lead them down a complex and sordid path of inquiry, the measured Cho becoming increasingly unhinged as their desperation grows to a near-fever pitch.


Co-written and directed by celebrated South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer, Parasite), Memories of Murder is a complex and often darkly humorous foreign-language crime procedural. Bong imparts his trademark brand of social satire upon this recreation of the notorious Hwaseong Serial Murders, delivering an amalgamation of contrasting tones and wry insights into human fallibility. Song and Kim carry the weight of the storyline's darker undertones on their world-weary shoulders, their achingly sincere performances bolstering a formidable viewing experience destined to stay with you long after the final credits have rolled.

 

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