As yesterday’s nomination announcements confirmed, we’re knee-deep in Academy Awards season, the time when Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters are stuffed into the special-effects category for bleak chances of winning statues and smaller, art-house flicks receive their deserved moments beneath the spotlight. The positive: Some of the brightest and most entertaining American films are given their just due attention. On the flipside, though, there’s a lingering question: Why is the Academy’s foreign film selection always so limited? Because, let’s be real here: There are a slew of cinematic achievements made all over the world.

Case in point: the harrowing war epic The Front Line (playing in select theaters now), South Korea’s submission into the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, and an award-winning action film set during the 1953 ceasefire between the North and the South with plot twists and genre blending that deserves a major critical nod. Though director Hun Jang’s work didn’t ultimately get the nod, it’s still a noteworthy picture.

Yet The Front Line isn’t Korea’s only 2011 film of note. With helpful tips from New York Asian Film Festival's overseer Goran Topalovic, we’ve compiled the most thought provoking, gruesome, and uneasy-for-the-mind films churned out by the Land of the Morning Calm last year: 10 2011 Korean Movies You Need To See.

Written by Jaeki Cho (@JaekiCho)

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