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Memories of Murder (Salinui chueok)

Memories of Murder (Salinui chueok) (2003)



Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 36
Fresh: 32 | Rotten: 4

Memories of Murder blends the familiar crime genre with social satire and comedy, capturing the all-too human desperation of its key characters.


Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 0

Memories of Murder blends the familiar crime genre with social satire and comedy, capturing the all-too human desperation of its key characters.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 9,554

My Rating

Movie Info

Memories of Murder is a policier based on the actual case of the first recorded serial killer in Korea's history. The rape murders began in 1986 in Hwaseong, a small village south of Seoul, and continued for several years during a time of political upheaval in South Korea. Detective Park Doo-man (Song Kang-ho of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance), an overconfident local cop, is assigned to the case, taking along his partner, Detective Cho Yong-koo (Kim Rwe-ha), whose interrogation methods involve

Aug 9, 2005

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All Critics (42) | Top Critics (11) | Fresh (32) | Rotten (4) | DVD (12)

What's singular in all this is the director's angle into the material, which is subtle, difficult to pin down, elusive.

July 29, 2005 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An involving and skillfully mounted film from Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho that's based on a true story.

July 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bong not only has an eye for beauty there are some gorgeous shots of the country's farmland but for the absurd.

July 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger
Newark Star-Ledger
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Uses dark humor, incisive characterizations and social commentary to infuse its familiar detective tale with a distinctive flair.

July 21, 2005
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Memories of Murder is such a taut, effective thriller it's a shame you have to read subtitles to gauge just how good a movie it is.

July 15, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comments (5)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Establishes Bong as a helmer with a distinct vision of his own, supported by a strong cast that's totally at one with the material.

June 23, 2005 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Superb police procedural film.

December 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Joon-ho Bong lets viewers fall into the cops' frustrations, but these detectives are dogged, not downtrodden. "Memories" shows their lives, however tortured, outside the case - like "Heat" without antagonistic rivalries or a more political "Zodiac."

September 19, 2010 Full Review Source:

A much better movie than the more recent and more heralded "Mother", another movie about a killer.

March 26, 2010 Full Review Source:

It plays as quite a refreshing take on this style, and, except for the heavy handed ending, proves to be an enjoyable and provocative flick, definitely worth seeking out.

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Scouts
Film Scouts

Almost single-handedly resuscitates the moribund serial killer genre.

September 15, 2006 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

Utiliza seu mistério (real) envolvendo o primeiro serial killer sul-coreano para fazer um forte comentário político e, no processo, cria uma narrativa tensa (mas também divertida) povoada de personagens tragicamente ineptos.

September 11, 2006
Cinema em Cena

...merits mention alongside Silence of the Lambs and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer...offers an incisive analysis of the culture that produced the crime.

September 8, 2005 Full Review Source: All Movie Guide
All Movie Guide

Low-key, unassuming, and crafty in the way it slowly gets under your skin, Memories of Murder is a sly and smart thriller.

August 16, 2005 Full Review Source:

A great opening and...a visceral, heartbreaking ending

July 21, 2005 Full Review Source:

The foregone conclusion only adds an extra layer of fatalism to this tale of ineffectual authority and abusive power.

July 15, 2005 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

straightforward, with minimal flourish

July 11, 2005 Full Review Source: | Comments (2)

Suspenseful, surprising, and psychologically rich.

June 23, 2005 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

Audience Reviews for Memories of Murder (Salinui chueok)

A murder chronicle that engulfs you into its own mystique. A richly layered film with great cinematic devices, satirical and distant at first, desperate, elusive and suspenseful by the end.
August 8, 2013

Super Reviewer

When you are watching a South Korean film, expect the unexpected! I mean them to turn a seemingly conventional plot line into a really twisted one and take us viewers completely by surprise. "Memories of Murder", a mesmerizing crime drama by filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho is a riveting mystery centering around the true story of the Hwaseong serial murders that occurred in Hwaseong in South Korea between 1986 and 1991.

It all begins one lazy day when the body of a young woman is discovered in a ditch, bound and possibly raped before the killing. Local detective Park Doo-man (Song Kang-ho) is in charge of the case, but just like the town he resides in, his attitude is laid back and nothing of this sort had ever happened in that part of town. Clearly overwhelmed by the incident that is quickly followed by another corpse of a woman murdered under seemingly similar circumstances, Park goes all out in investigating. He really tries but seems to reach dead ends with no witnesses and the handful of clues leading nowhere. Forensic technology was almost non-existent in that part of the globe in those days and determining substantial information solely from the examination of the body was quite difficult.

With the media going berserk, the pressure mounting from all over and the lethargic handling of the case leads to a detective from Seoul, Seo Tae-Yoon (Kim Sang Kyung) being sent to assist Det. Park. Now both these men predictably clash in their methods of investigation (not entirely a new plot device to any such story) but that is hardly the crux of the story. With things getting more and more difficult, Park begins to adopt twisted ways of collecting evidence, "creating" suspects (one of whom is a mentally challenged boy) out of the remotest of things connecting them to the murder, getting confessions out of them and trying to close the vexing case any which way! And this is where Seo Tae-Yoon comes in, and keeps proving Park wrong, in the meantime, carrying out his own investigation.


A few more corpses follow and the detectives lose their sleep solving what could be one of the most challenging cases they may have faced and it almost seems as if they are chasing a shadow....but little by little they do know that the killer isn't far away...

"Memories of Murder" is one of the finest detective-crime stories I've seen in a long long time. It also reminded me of two David Fincher films "Seven" and "Zodiac" both of which dealt with extremely trying serial killer cases which were some rather tough nuts to crack. However, where "Memories of Murder" differs is in its approach to story-telling is that it does not rely on Hollywood gimmicks of any sort and tells it as raw as it should be. It doesn't have the pretty faces of Brad Pitt or Jake Gyllenhaal trying to solve some romanticized cryptic puzzles left behind by the killer. A lot of unpredictable twists and turns and generous amounts of red herrings are thrown in. The viewer feels the angst, relentless frustration and exasperation these guys feel while attempting to solve the murders as all their clues, attempts to find a pattern, the leads and eventual trails keep meeting their dead ends. At the same time there is the disgust and the growing anger over how the killer manages to prey on yet another victim right under their noses and seems to escape their nets! And what ghastly ways to commit the crime! This is the kind of killer who gags his victims, rapes them and stuffs articles found on them into their vagina...!!


Yes indeed.."Memories of Murder" is a disturbing film. A lot of things and happenings you see in this film aren't pleasant to watch. As a matter of fact, the filmmaker manages to evoke a feeling of disgust that comes from the graphically descriptive dialog between the characters narrating the nature of the crime, not from the visuals of the scenes, as there aren't any particularly graphic scenes depicting the actual crime and most of the violence is off screen.

Technically "Memories of Murder" excels in nearly all departments. The stunning cinematography by Kim Hyung-ku is breathtaking as his camera captures some of the most marvelous locations of the Korean countryside and a rainy night in a desolate area never looked more terrifying! Ditto for the beautiful music score by Tarō Iwashiro which truly reflects the emotion and the mood of some of the key scenes. Acting by the two leads, Song Kang-ho and Kim Sang Kyung is applause-worthy! Song Kang-ho, especially impresses us most, as the incapable detective, desperate in his attempts to get the case over and done with.

The film ultimately belongs to writer-director Bong Joon-Ho, though, who turns a run-of-the-mill, "two detectives on the trail of a serial killer" subject into a disturbing yet quite refreshing and rewarding movie experience, with an ending so powerful it just refuses to let go! This one's really worth your while, folks!

Highly recommended!

Score: 9/10.
July 4, 2011
Aditya Gokhale
Aditya Gokhale

Super Reviewer

"Do you see this kind of thing in Seoul often?"

South Korea in 1986 under the military dictatorship: Two rural cops and a special detective from the capital investigate a series of brutal rape murder. Their crude measures become more desperate with each new corpse found. Based on a true case

Set in 1986, "Memories of Murder" chronicles the first serial killer case in South Korean history. The victims are all beautiful young women whose bodies have been found raped and strangled in local fields and ditches. The initial agents who have been put on the case are two incompetent bunglers - one a dropout from college, the other a dropout from high school - who seem to have gleaned the majority of their investigative techniques from cheesy TV crime dramas. Enter Seo Tae-yoon, a forensic investigator from Seoul, who wrests control from the locals and brings some big-city know-how to the case.

Given the grim subject matter at hand, it's amazing just how funny so much of this movie turns out to be. Blessed with a sly sardonic humor and a willingness to make fun of its characters even while evincing a great deal of affection for them, "Memories of Murder" plays less like a conventional cop movie and more like a regional comedy filled with rich insights into the subtle truths of human nature. The relationship between Seo, the investigator from Seoul, and Park Doo-man, the more rational of the two local officers, is intriguing and complex, as we watch them bicker and brawl and engage in petty power struggles, while slowly coming to realize that each has something of value to teach the other if only they can set aside their egos long enough to listen. Saddled with even-then antiquated technologies, Seo and Park are forced to rely on good old investigative footwork and informed intuition to try and solve the case.

There are strong performances by one and all, and a fine sense of atmosphere in the setting. Those looking for a neatly tied-up resolution to the case may find themselves disappointed at movie's end. But the rich rewards of setting and character should be compensation enough.
March 1, 2011
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

an excellent thriller based on the first known serial killings in korea. two small town detectives, plus one on loan from the big city of seoul, struggle to solve the case using decidedly low tech methods. the film also contains a good dose of humor which works surprisingly well. fans of the director's 2006 monster movie, the host (gwoemul) should check this out
January 11, 2010
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

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  • Memory Of Murder (UK)
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