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Asian horror movies based on real haunted places

Art imitates life, even in Asian horror movies, which shows how movie-makers draw their inspirations from their surroundings when making a film. And what more inspiration for a horror movie other than an actual haunted place?

Here are some Asian horror movies inspired by places with supernatural and unexplained histories:

1.Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018)

The Movie: The crew of a horror web series go to an abandoned asylum for a live broadcast. In true horror flick fashion, the whole trip becomes their worst nightmare.

Watch the trailer here.

The Haunted Place: This South Korean movie is based on one of the freakiest places on the planet according to CNN.

Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital in Gwangju was once a fully operational medical centre when suddenly, according to local legend, patients started dying mysteriously.

Now, it is an abandoned building filled with urban legends and ghost stories.

Urban legends vary, some claim there was a mad doctor who tormented patients and one of the more famous versions is that the owner himself was insane. He was said to be keeping his patients incarcerated until he fled to the US in 1996.

The hospital was forced to close seemingly in hurry because medical records, patients’ private possessions were still there.

A less exciting, yet equally grisly explanation for the condition of Gonjiam Psychiatric hospital is that it closed due to unsanitary living conditions along with a malfunctioning sewage disposal system and that its owner just fled the country instead.

2. Lawang Sewu: Dendam Kuntilanak (2007)

The Movie: A group of high school students from Jakarta are trapped in Lawang Sewu in Semarang, Indonesia. After one of them urinates in the complex but does not reappear, the rest come to look for her. One of them also happens to be menstruating when she enters the complex, which incurs the additional wrath of the ghosts and spirits within Lawang Sewu.

To their horror, they are haunted by several ghosts and angry spirits which include that of a Dutch woman, a man who had a ball and chain wrapped around his leg, and of course a Kuntilanak (an Indonesian version of a vampire).

Watch the trailer here.

The Haunted Place: According to urban legend, a Dutch woman is believed to have committed suicide in Lawang Sewu. On top of that, when the Japanese invaded in the 1940s during World War II, they used part of the building as a prison where apparently some executions took place. Five employees working there and Indonesian fighters also died when Dutch forces attempted to retake Semarang by sneaking back into the city through the building’s tunnel systems.

So if you’re the superstitious type, there’s a lot of potentially unsettled spirits in this building.

Despite its haunted reputation, Lawang Sewu is actually an intricate, colonial era building. Lawang Sewu itself means ‘thousand doors’ in Javanese which derived from the building’s numerous doors and about 600 large windows.

Construction started in 1904 and was used by the first Dutch East Indies railway company Nederlandsch-Indische Maatshappij in the Dutch East Indies in 1907.

Although renovations over the years have not returned the building to its full glory, the Semarang city government is still working on shedding Lawang Sewu’s supernatural reputation by repurposing it into an active social space.

3. Highland Tower (2013)

The Movie: Highland Tower (2013) is a Malay-language film directed by Pierre Andre. It follows a TV host named Shima working on a documentary based on the 1993 Highland Towers collapse.

Watch the trailer here.

The Haunted Place: The Highland Towers were three similar 13-storey apartment buildings in Ulu Klang, in Selangor, Malaysia.

Sadly on Dec 11, 1993, Block 1 of the Highland Towers collapsed resulting in the deaths of 48 people. The remaining two blocks were evacuated due to safety reasons.

This led to the two remaining buildings becoming a hideout for criminals and drug addicts.

4.Villa Nabila (2015)

The Movie: The film starts with a disappearance of a teenager at an abandoned house called Villa Nabila in Johor.

It is presented in documentary style in which a few people who claim to experience the supernatural were interviewed.

Watch the trailer here.

The Haunted place: Villa Nabila is an abandoned house in Johor Bahru, Malaysia overlooking the Straits of Johor.

According to local legend, there was once a wealthy Caucasian family that lived there. Tragically, somebody murdered the whole family.

Another tale shares a story of wealthy parents who died leaving a daughter named Nabila.

Allegedly, the maid killed Nabila and cemented her body in one of the walls of the house.

5.Karak (2011)

The Movie: Asian horror movies love to revolve around horrified students just like those in Karak (2011).

This film tells the story of four students heading back to their college in Kuantan after a night out in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

They encounter a massive traffic jam on the Karak highway and decide to use an alternative route.

And that is when the horror begins.

Watch the trailer here.

The Haunted Place: Karak Highway was built in 1970 and was opened to the public in 1977. One of the famous tragedies that took place there was a road accident in 1990 which saw 17 people killed.

The death toll includes 11 Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) police personnel during a collision involving more than 10 vehicles.

This 60km highway also carries a number of other ghost stories such as a yellow Volkswagen which disrupts road users and a wandering school boy looking for his mother.

6.Haunted Changi (2010)

The Movie: Asian horror movies, like their western counterparts, like to explore the terrifying experience of fimmakers or TV crew with behind-the-scenes or found footage concepts.

This is what you’ll find with Singaporean movie Haunted Changi (2010) which follows a group of local filmmakers investigating Old Changi Hospital.

Watch the trailer here.

The Haunted Place: The British government built this hospital in 1935. It was used as a military hospital during Japanese occupation in World War II.

Unsurprisingly, some said the souls of Japanese occupation victims roam this site.

Moreover, there have been reported sightings of homeless ghosts, patients who died in the hospital and a nurse carrying a baby.

5 viral dance moves which took Malaysia by storm

Nothing brings people together better than viral dance moves. Generally Malaysians have accepted viral dance moves with open arms and sometimes with a lot of sense of humour.

But of course, some of the viral dance moves that came were not without controversy. That being said, here are five viral dance moves which took Malaysia by storm over the past couple of decades:

1. Panama

2018 became the year for the Panama Dance Challenge. “Panama” is a catchy 2013 Romanian pop song by Matteo.

The basic moves include drawing a ‘Z’ in the air, doing the hula twice and then a twerk. (Can you tell I’ve tried it?)

Various Malaysian agencies created their own videos including Perlis Road Transport Department, Selayang Hospital and Hulu Selangor Health Department, showing a lighthearted side to these government departments.

Some religious leaders came out against the dance, however, citing the mixing between the sexes and the dance moves were against Islamic teachings.

2.Harlem Shake

Harlem Shake is more of an Internet move rather than a dance move.

The remakes of Harlem Shake videos usually consist of costumed people dancing to Baauer’s “Harlem Shake”.

The original Harlem Shake dance comes from Harlem, New York in the 1980s involving a street and hip hop dance.

As for this viral Harlem Shake, it starts with one costumed person dancing alone to the obliviousness of a whole room full of people. When the bass drops, the entire group starts shaking throughout the rest of the video.

In Malaysia, NuffNang group, Hong Leong Bank, the hitz.fm teams all posted their own versions back in 2013.

3.Gangnam Style

The horse dance of “Gangnam Style” by Psy took the world by storm back in 2012.

This viral dance move even had world leaders such as the former British Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon jumping on their feet.

Jumping on the bandwagon, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak even invited Psy to perform in Penang back in February 2013.

4.Asereje

Before there was Despacito, the most famous Spanish song in Malaysia was “The Ketchup Song” or “Asereje” (2002).

Who can forget the signature dance move which consisted of waving your hand over the other, then tossing the thumb over the shoulder?

After the dance went viral, the song became controversial with rumours stating it had references to Satanism.

5.Macarena

The trailblazer of all famous Spanish songs in Malaysia is none other than “Macarena” (1993) by Los del Rio. (And this is without the help of the Internet.)

If you have lived through the 90s, your body will automatically remember this dance move which involves alot of criss-crossing of arms from your head to your hips, ending with a hip shake and a “Hey” before you turn to face another direction. It’s easy, and the steps are slow enough for people of all ages to learn and follow.

“Macarena” is the name of a woman, which in Spanish means ‘Mother of God’. The song itself describes how Macarena was heartbroken when her boyfriend left to join the army. So in retaliation she went out to dance with other soldiers, which is why everybody in the song is dancing.

Cover photo: “Gangnam Style” literally put this district on the map for the global audience. You’ll find this statue at the East Gate of Starfield COEX Mall in Gangnam, Seoul. Not only that, when you stand below the hands, “Gangnam Style” will be played. -Photo credit Gangnam Tourist Information Center 

Your Rainforest World Music Festival Practical Guide

The 21st Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) is coming this July 13 to 15!

It is a music festival like no other with world musicians from around the globe under one roof.

The festival is formulated to have interactive workshops in the afternoon and mind-blowing performances in the evening.

With Sarawak Cultural Village as its venue and Mount Santubong in the background, RWMF is an epitome of how indigenous music should be shared and appreciated.

Your Practical Guides to Rainforest World Music Festival 9
Have you bought your tickets yet to Rainforest World Music Festival 2018?

If you are planning to go, here is KajoMag’s practical guide to enjoying the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) :

1. Be there early.

Avoid the long queue at the entrance by coming early to the venue. Don’t forget to print your personal copy of your tickets or download it to your devices.

2. Don’t bring sharp items

There will be a security check at the entrance so do not bring sharp items to RWMF. And of course, no drugs are permitted.

3. No outside food and drink

Security will also check your bags for food and drink at the entrance. Even little things like your favourite mints or chewing gum are not allowed to RWMF. Don’t worry, food and drink are available at the venue.

4.You can bring your mats

Make yourself comfortable and bring your lawn chairs or mats. Some sellers at the craft bazaar do sell the traditional woven mats but stocks can be limited or they might be too big.

If you don’t want to take any chances, bring your own lawn chairs or mats.

Your Practical Guides to Rainforest World Music Festival 4
You can always plop yourself on a mat if you want to.
5.Protect yourself from UV rays!

RWMF is held in Kuching, Malaysia which is obviously located in a tropical country. Men might not care about this tip, but girls, do protect your skin by slapping on those sunscreen.

6. And a raincoat!

Even though the monsoon, or landas season, isn’t until December to March, there have been times when Kuching has been deluged by rain during RWMF.

A raincoat is a saviour for when you want to continue to dance in the rain. You might not able to save your slippers while dancing in the mud but at least you can protect your body.

Your Practical Guides to Rainforest World Music Festival 5
If it raining at night, you might need to dance in the rain so bring a raincoat!
7.Stuff them all in a dry bag

Speaking of raining during RWMF, a dry bag is very handy during RWMF. You can put all your important stuff like your wallet, camera and handphone in your dry bag. The festival venue, Sarawak Cultural Village, is just a stone’s throw away from the beach, so you’ll be able to enjoy the sun, surf and sand in before, after or between the music.

8. Shoo away those insects!

If you do not want to be distracted by mosquitoes or sand flies, spray on some insect repellent.

9. Bring along that power bank

One of RWMF’s most practical guidelines is to bring along your power bank. A proper power source to charge your handphones during RWMF is usually hard to find.

Your Practical Guides to Rainforest World Music Festival 2
This fellow might not be there to provide you with a fully charged power bank this year.
10. Have fun!
Your Practical Guides to Rainforest World Music Festival
Participate in at least one of the dance workshops!

In the afternoon, there are so many workshops to choose from. Pick at least one dance workshop to participate in. Nobody will judge you for having two left feet at RWMF. Be respectful toward other festival-goers and keep an open mind on learning about other people’s culturse.

Last but not least do not forget to have fun, fun, fun!

We hope that you find these Rainforest World Music Festival practical guidelines useful!

 

KajoPicks: Top Korean Drama Series With Deeper Messages

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(Picture source: Pixabay)

We all love Korean drama series for their fantastic plots and characters.

While some might love them because of their favourite actors or actresses, other might be into them because of their gripping plots.

Since there are too many Korean drama series out there, we thought you might need some recommendations on which series to binge watch in one weekend.

This Kajo-list features some of the series that not only have great plots but deliver deeper messages through its stories.

  1. Cross (16 episodes)

The medical scene has never looked darker than in this Korean drama series.

It tells the story of a young doctor plotting revenge against an illegal organ trader who murdered his father. This is because his father has a rare blood type thus making his organs valuable for organ transplants.

However, things are not as simple as tracking the bad guy down, injecting him with some dangerous medicine and leaving him to die. He soon finds out that the illegal organ trading business goes deeper, involving people that he did not expect.

While the revenge plot and near-death scenes are enough to leave you hyperventilating, Cross highlights illegal organ trading among the poverty ridden people.

  1. Misty (16 episodes)

Misty is a combination of Scandal and Sherlock Holmes. This drama series features a strong, intelligent anchor woman thrown into a murder scandal involving her ex-boyfriend/lover. Having been charged with murder, her still-in-love-with-yet-distant lawyer husband defends her.

It has a brilliant plot that weaves in the main character’s scandalous affair with her work as a media person.

Superficially, Misty looks like a story of rekindling lost love. But it highlights the restriction on media freedom in uncovering stories to reveal the truth.

  1. Black Knight: The Man Who Guards Me (20 episodes)

In Korean culture, a ‘black knight’ means a guy who takes a shot of alcohol on your behalf. But if you expect this series to be about binge-drinking, think again.

Black Knight is about a businessman (who seems to have way too much money to spend) reconciling with his childhood crush, a travel agent. Their love story spans over 200 years as they were also lovers in their past lives.

He set out to save a town from the brink of being destroyed to be developed into high-end apartments and stores with her help.

Set in modern Korea, this drama series takes on the issue of conserving old traditional buildings to preserve culture.

  1. Mother (16 episodes)

I challenge anyone to watch this Korean drama series without shedding any tears!

Mother is an adaptation from a Japanese series of the same name. This Korean drama series tells how ornithologist Kang Soo Jin rescued a girl, Kim Hye Na, who was being abused by her mother and boyfriend. To cover her identity, she posed as the child’s mother.

While the story may be tear-jerking, it highlights the issue of domestic abuse against children. Hye Na’s on-point portrayal as an abused child captures the emotion of a defenseless child secretly pleading for help while at the same time putting up a brave front as she faces daily abuse from her mother and her boyfriend.

As a stranger, Soo Jin’s ability to recognise child abuse and take action is what society should do for abused children.

  1. Bad Guys 2: City of Evil (16 episodes)

The real reason why I get hooked on this series was because I really liked the first Bad Guy series.  (cough Park Hae Jin)

So, naturally, I thought the second one should be as good, if not better.

With a team of originally seven people (then three), Bad Guys 2 explores the corruption of those in power. Among those involved are prosecutors, politicians, the police force, chaboels and gangsters.

Filled with well-choreographed fight scenes, this series is the definition of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.

  1. Revolutionary Love (16 episodes)

Don’t be deceived by the title. Revolutionary Love might sound like your typical sappy love story, but it actually explores the theme of employees and labour rights.

It features a sheltered chabeol heir who falls in love with a poor girl who has too many part-time jobs.

Through her and his reluctant – also poor -best friend, he soon realises his father’s unjust treatment of the employees. Soon, he begins to fight for the employees rights.

Anybody who has experience working for a company with bad policies and bosses can relate.

  1. Witch’s Court (16 episodes)

Witch’s Court is a Korean drama series that I truly appreciate – it does not feature the typical optimistic and cheerful female lead.

The lead character is unique because she is the anti-hero type. Known to be devious, she eventually learns to be compassionate as she helps sexual victims.

It highlights victims of sexual crimes and how often they go unnoticed.

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Where art thou Soul Stone?

If you are following the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) closely, then you know that the final Infinity Stone, the Soul Stone has yet to show up.

Fans are racking their brains trying to figure out where – or when – the Soul Stone might appear. Even the directors of Avengers: Infinity War, Anthony and Joe Russo are trolling fans with this tweet:

And of course, the brothers are not answering their own question.

Nonetheless, here is a list of theories fans have come up with so far on the Soul Stone’s location:

It may not be a stone at all, but a planet?

This sixth and final Infinity stone gives users power to control souls.

On top of that, it is able to send them to another dimension called ‘Soul World’. So is the orange planet the Soul World?

Screen Rant theorised that the orange planet is the Soul Stone, or at least a manifestation of it as the first trailer of Avengers: Infinity War starts with a shot of an orange planet while the Soul Stone in Guardians of the Galaxy to be orange.

However, some said this theory has been debunked. The orange planet is actually Titan, Thanos’ home. But what if the stone had been with Thanos all this time?

The Soul Stone is in Wakanda?

Both trailers show an epic battle happening in an African country, most probably in Wakanda. Could the final Infinity Stone be kept at the home of Black Panther?

Some fans believed vibranium is not the only secret Wakanda is keeping, but also the Soul Stone’s location.

It is with Iron-Man

The theory of Tony Stark having the Soul Stone came after the promo art of Avengers: Infinity War was published.

The art shows where each of Infinity Stones first debuted in MCU.

For example, the Space Stone (Tesseract) was in Captain America: The First Avengers while the Power Stone was in Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Reality Stone (Aether) was in Thor: The Dark World; Vision has the Mind Stone in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Doctor Strange was holding the Time Stone aka the Eye of Agamotto without realising it.

And there is an illustration of the Soul Stone with Iron-Man. Does this mean it has been with Tony all this while?

Another reason to back up this theory is, in Iron Man 3, Tony tosses the arc reactor in his chest into the ocean but in Avengers: Infinity War, he has a new arc reactor.

Thus, fans are claiming the new arc reactor might be the Soul Stone.

Infinity Stone Promo Art. from r/marvelstudios


It lies within Heimdall

This is seems a bit far-stretched but some fans are speculating the Soul Stone is with Heimdall. This explains why he can see ‘every soul’ across the Nine Realms.

All we fans can do for now, other than theorising, is to wait for Avengers: Infinity War to premiere on April 2018.

Watch the trailer here.

Subway, the most famous sandwich in Korean drama-land

Subway is one of the most famous product placement (PPLs) brands in Korean dramas.

You’ll see everybody eating it, whether they’re on a date, saving a life or taking a break.

No matter how many times they feature the sandwiches being elegantly devoured by flawless Korean actors and actresses though, the American sandwich still seems out of place.

As a viewer, I perfectly understand PPLs are important to generate income for dramas, but having a Subway sandwich turn up in almost every corner of an episode seems to be pushing it.

For example, how would you comfort a guy who attempted to commit suicide? Do you recommend he gets counselling or do you hand him a Subway sandwich like Kim Shin (played by Gong Yoo) did in Goblin (2017)?

My point is, the PPLs can get a tad ridiculous.

Nonetheless, I have to give credit to the writers for managing to insert an honest observation of the sandwich.

When Kim Shin tells Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) that she should have some while he himself is enjoying one, Ji replies “It’s expensive. How can we buy two?” Bingo!

Subway promotes itself in Korean dramas as the meal to have while on a break. You’ll see the Grim Reaper in Goblin eating alone at a Subway outlet after a long day at work.

What better way to end your day sending the dead to the afterlife by having an American sandwich right?

Who ate the most Subway sandwiches in Korean dramas?

Perhaps the people from a specific profession which had the most Subway sandwiches during their breaks in Korean drama-land are the doctors.

In Descendants of the Sun (2016), Dr Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) had a few subtle scenes enjoying the sandwich while Good Doctor (2013), Dr Cha Yoon Seo (Moon Chae Yeon) is seen having a sandwich break with her colleagues at Subway.

Meanwhile, Dr Jung Yoon Do (Yoon Kyun Sang), Dr Jin Seo Woo (Lee Sung Kyung) and a few other colleagues also had their piece of sandwich action (keep it clean, people!) in Doctors (2016).

On top of being a quick grab for lunch, Subway sandwiches are also being advertised as the perfect food for a picnic date.

Of course when you are as beautiful as Yoona and your date is as hot as Ji Chang Wook like in K2 (2016), even the grass looks enticing to eat.

Subway also starred in Prime Ministers and I (2013), Defendant (2017) and Big Man (2014).

The product placement seems to be working well for Subway though. A quick glance at their website revealed that there were 313 stores in South Korea alone, while Malaysia has 220 outlets. (The latter might be debatable though, as there are only 52 locations posted on the website.)

Do you agree this American franchise is overdoing it when it comes to PPL in Korean dramas? Or does their marketing strategy work and make you crave for a Subway while you’re watching a K-drama? Let us know in the comment box!

KajoPicks: 8 films about Mount Everest you must watch

Mount Everest is the world’s highest mountain, standing at its  official height of 8,848m.

While the rest of the world calls it Everest, the mountain is called Sagarmatha in Nepal and Chomolungma in Tibet.

The name Everest was actually given by the Royal Geographical Society as suggested by the British Surveyor General of India, Andrew Waugh in 1865.

Waugh named it after his predecessor, Sir George Everest.

Even though more than 4,000 people have reached its peak since Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953, hundreds  have died doing it, which is why its no surprise that Everest always make it into popular culture.

There are plenty of books, movies and documentaries out there telling tales of courageous humans pushing their limits to conquer Everest.

Here, we narrowed down eight films from all over the world on Mount Everest to watch:

1.Everest (2015)

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On May 10 to 11, 1996, eight people died while caught in a blizzard on Mount Everest.

This movie starring Jason Clarke and Jake Gyllenhaal, is based on that 1996 disaster.

A real tearjerker, the film focuses on the two expedition groups led by Rob Hall (Clarke) and Scot Fischer (Gyllenhall).

Overall, the film was a commercial blockbuster and received positive reviews from critics.

However, journalist Jon Krakauer who was on assignment from Outside magazine and part of Hall’s expedition team was not happy with the movie.

Krakauer thinks that some of its details were fabricated and defamatory.

The storyline for Everest (2015) is mostly adapted from Beck Weathers’ book Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest.

2. Into Thin Air: Death on Everest (1997)

p19867_d_v8_aaThis TV movie is according to Krakauer’s account of what happened during the 1996 Mount Everest tragedy.

It is based on Krakauer’s memoir Into Thin Air which received considerable amount of criticism.

For those with curious minds, they could watch both Everest (2015) and Into Thin Air: Death on Everest (1997) and compare the storylines.

3.The Himalayas (2015)

The_Himalayas_(film)_posterThe Himalayas (2015) is based on South Korean climber Um Hong Gil’s life.

It focuses on his mentorship of two other climbers Park Moo Taek and Park Jeong Bok.

Sadly, Moo Taek died during an expedition on Mount Everest and his body was left in the Himalayas.

The movie is based on real-life event of Um, set aside concerns over his leg injury to lead a team to find Moo Taek’s body.

4. Poorna: Courage Has No Limit (2017)

220px-Poorna_-_PosterMalavath Poorna conquered the summit of Mount Everest at the age of 13 years and 11 months earning the title as the youngest girl in the world to do so.

The movie follows her journey in preparation for her climb.

Keeping true to Poorna’s tribe, they speak in the native Telugu language.

Poorna: Courage Has No Limit (2017) was shot in Poorna’s home village in Pakala over a period of 11 days.

It was highly praised in the media including The Hindustan Times which stated “Poorna shows you that incredible stories can be told simply. Bollywood can learn from that.”

5. Beyond the Edge (2013)

Beyond-Final-Poster-BThis New Zealand docudrama is about Norgay and Hillary’s historical ascent of Everest in 1953.

The film features original footage and photographs from the expedition, lending the movie some authenticity.

There is also an audio interview with Hillary and narration by the expedition leader John Hunt.

6. Blindsight (2006)

p178743_p_v8_aa The climbers in this documentary do not climb Mount Everest but the 23,000 foot Lhakpa Ri mountain in the shadow of the Himalaya.

Blindsight follows the story of six blind Tibetan teenagers on their journey to climb Lhakpa Ri mountain.

The group had some help for their challenge, a blind German social worker Sabriye Tenberkan and famous blind mountain climber Erik Weihenmayer.

7. Everest (1998)

1789-everest-1998-poster-a-crop-203-286This 45-minute documentary focus on a team led by mountaineer Ed Viesturs.

He is the only American to have climbed all 14 of the world’s mountain peaks.

Some of his team members are Jamling Tenzing Norgay, son of Tenzing Norgay and Spanish climber Araceli Segarra, the first Spanish woman to climb to the summit of Mount Everest.

It also features a description of the training required in order to climb to the summit of Mount Everest.

And the plus point for this documentary? Liam Neeson narrated this film.

8. Beyond the Heights (2015)

Beyond_the_HeightsAward-winning Pakistani cinematographer Jawad Sharif directed this inspiring 2015 documentary.

It follows the then 21-year old Samina Baig who became first Pakistani woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 2013.

Samina was accompanied by her brother Miza Ali Baig. Miza was  the youngest Pakistani man to conquer Everest at the age of 29.

Apart from Everest, Samina also the first and only Pakistani woman to climb all seven summits on seven continents.

5 best award-winning dramas by Kim Eun Sook to binge watch

Kim Eun Sook is a household name when it comes to the South Korean screenwriting scene.

First gaining attention with Lovers in Paris, she is known for writing iconic kissing scenes with romantic, almost borderline cheesy lines. These scenes would make you either swoon, cringe or even both.

One of the most standout examples being the famous ‘wine kiss’ in Descendants of the Sun (2016).

While its heroine Dr Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) is enjoying her wine straight from the bottle, she offers some to Yoo Si Jin (Song Joong Ki) who refuses, saying that dispatched troops are not allowed to drink.

Noticing that Yoo is watching her intently, Kang says “You look like you really want to drink this” and offers him the bottle.

Yoo then says, “I think I found a way”, walks straight up to her, grabs her by the chin and kisses her.

Who wouldn’t swoon?

Admittedly, some of the Kim Eun Sook’s plotlines can be pretty cliched. Poor girl falls in love with rich boy, with the universe somehow against them. In the end, they live happily ever after.

Nonetheless, they make good guilty pleasures especially if you want a quick escape from reality into the larger than life fantasy of Korean dramas.

With more than 10 projects under her belt, we break them down to five best award-winning dramas written by Kim Eun Sook you must watch for your K-drama starter pack:

1.Goblin (2017)

Goblin is Kim Eun Sook’s second collaboration with director Lee Eun Bok after Descendants of the Sun.

It was the second highest rated drama in Korean cable television history behind Reply 1988.

Perhaps contributing to Goblin’s success was lead actor Gong Yoo’s return to the TV screen after his blockbuster movie Train to Busan.

Kim Eun Sook revealed in a talk show Signal last year that Gong Yoo was the actor that had rejected her the most often, refusing to work with her until Goblin came along.

Gong Yoo plays the Goblin or Kim Shin who needs a human bride to end his immortality.

Some criticised the huge age gap between the two lead characters Kim Shin and Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) – he’s 37, she’s 25 – but Goblin was a commercial success.

It was awarded the Grand Prize (Daesang) for Television honour during the 53rd Baeksang Arts Awards.

Watch the trailer here.

2.Descendants of the Sun (2016)

A -listers including Won Bin, Jo In Sung, Gong Yoo and Kim Woo Bin all said no to playing the male lead in this drama.

Some said they were uncomfortable playing the role of a soldier while others reportedly could not commit to the pre-production format of the show.

Most Korean dramas out there are shot in ‘live-shoot’ system. Meaning the storyline might be changed depending on public feedback but at the cost of long filming hours.

However with pre-production format, the drama is filmed entirely before broadcast allowing the producers to plan for its distribution better.

The risk is that if the audience ends up not liking it, there’s no way to go back to change the plot.

The pre-production format worked out for Descendants of the Sun. Being pre-produced allowed them to air it in China simultaneously with South Korea, bringing in more profits.

If you hadn’t guessed from the wine kiss, the plot is the love story between a soldier Yoo Si Jin (Song Joong Ki) and Doctor Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo).

This was also Song Joong Ki’s first project after finishing his mandatory military duty.

Besides the script, another contributor to the success of this drama was the great chemistry between the ‘Song-Song Couple’.

And they proved their off-screen chemistry was real when they married in October 2017.

Descendants of the Sun earned Kim Eun Sook her first KBS Drama Award for Best Writer.

3.The Heirs (2013)

This is Kim’s first teen drama based on the love story between a rich kid (Lee Min Ho) and a poor girl Cha Eun Sang (Park Shin Hye).

Kim Eun Sook revealed that she wrote it specifically for Lee, calling it a teen romance for grown-ups.

She won Outstanding Scriptwriter award for The Heirs during the 2nd Asia Rainbow TV Awards in 2014.

The Heirs was the first Korean drama co-produced by American digital distribution platform DramaFever.

Watch the trailer here.

4.Secret Garden (2010)

This drama won numerous awards including Korea Content Awards: Prime Minister’s Award in the Field of Broadcasting and Korea Drama Awards for Best Writer.

Other awards were Seoul International Drama Awards: Outstanding Screenwriter and Baeksang Art Awards for Best TV Screenplay.

Another Cinderella story by Kim Eun Sook, the story follows Gil Ra Im (Ha Ji Won) a stuntwoman who falls in love with Kim Joo Won (Hyun Bin), the CEO of a department store.

This was Ha’s first project after taking 4-year break from dramas.

Secret Garden was so successful that the fashion items such as Joo Won’s sequined sweater and catchphrases were all the rage back then.

And who can forget the legendary ‘foam kiss’ scene? The scene probably inspired half of the men in South Korea to lean over and kiss their girlfriends while their lips are tainted with cappuccino foam.

Watch the trailer here.

5.Lovers in Paris (2004)

Speaking of catchphrases, no other Korean drama has sparked more trends and parodies than Lovers in Paris.

Even if you have never seen this drama, you have probably seen entertainers mimicking its lead role Han Ki Joo (Park Shin Yang)’s famous line “Let’s go, baby!” in variety shows.

Kim Eun Sook co-wrote Lovers in Paris with Kang Eun Jung winning the Best TV Screenplay award together in 2005 Baeksang Arts Awards.

It is another cliched story of the poor Kang Tae Young (Kim Jung Eun) working for the rich Han Ki Joo as his housekeeper.

The series became one of the highly rated Korean dramas of all time. It also won several high-profile awards including SBS Drama Awards: Special Award in 2005.

Read more:

10 South Korean movies inspired by true stories you must watch

KajoPicks: 5 YouTube channels to follow if you love true crime stories

True crime stories can be morbid, gruesome to watch or read about.

Yet some of us are simply fascinated about them, especially when it comes to murder cases. Perhaps one of the reasons we are drawn to true crime stories is how they can trigger fear in us, the same way some people can enjoy a good horror movie even though they’re jumpy while watching it.

With the existence of specialised YouTube channels, videos covering the horror and depravity of all types of crime have become so accessible.

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KajoMag’s five Youtube Channels to follow if you just love true crime stories. Credit: Pixabay.

So here are five YouTube Channels to follow if you just love true crime stories:

1. BuzzFeed Unsolved: True Crime

Buzzfeed Unsolved is one of BuzzFeedBlue’s weekly web series.

Its creator Ryan Bergara co-hosts the show together with Shane Madej where they highlight famous unsolved crimes throughout history and present possible theories.

Even though it’s heavy material, the duo manage to narrate it with some sense of humour, making the videos so entertaining to watch.

That being said, Bergara seems to have better chemistry with Madej who replaced his former co-host Brent Bennett.

2. Criminally Listed

Putting aside the dull narrations in the videos, Criminally Listed features great listicles of true crime stories.

The channel comes up with morbidly interesting themes like “3 Cases of Teachers Killing Their Students” and “3 Haunting Family Christmas Murders”.

The Canadian-based YouTube channel brings you true crime stories every Thursday and Sunday.

3. Vintage Files

Revisit old crime scenes with the Vintage Files.

They feature solved and unsolved crime cases, sliding in some paranormal mysteries in between.

We bet videos like “5 Strange Events that Happened in WW1” and “5 Most Evil Doctors in History” are stories they never taught in any history class.

4. Rob Dyke

Internet personality Rob Dyke manages to combine comedy and tragedy in his videos featuring some of the scariest, creepiest stories in the world.

He dedicates Sunday to gruesome murders in history so watch out for his video on that.

He has a playlist of serial killer videos on his channel that he named “Anatomy of Murder”.

5. Cayleigh Elise

Cayleigh Elise brings you horrifying crime cases in her video series “Dark Matters”.

She features well-known cases like Elisa Lam (the girl whose body was discovered in the water tank of a Los Angeles hotel) to lesser known crime like the missing crew of the Sarah Joe.

Cayleigh has another playlist of videos, which can be too sad to watch for some, called “Nameless” which features unidentified victims.

On top of true crime stories, she also covers urban legends, folklore and the paranormal.

10 South Korean movies inspired by true stories you must watch!

South Korean movies based on actual accounts started gaining attention in the beginning of the 21st century.

Of course, not all the movies have remained true to the actual story, but some of them were so thought-provoking, that they provoked public outcry, reopening criminal cases and even changing the judicial system.

Here are 10 South Korean movies based on (or inspired by) true events you have to watch:

Silenced starring Gong Yoo.
Silenced starring Gong Yoo.

1. Silenced (2011)

Also known as The Crucible, this 2011 film is based on the novel by Gong Ji Young.

It was inspired by actual events  at Gwangju Inhwa School for the hearing-impaired where students were sexually assaulted by the school staff over a period of five years in the early 2000s.

The teachers were let off with minimal punishment. Worse still, four out of six of them were reinstated after they escaped punishment under the statute of limitations. The other two received jail terms of less than a year.

After the film’s release, there was public outrage over the lenient court rulings, prompting police to reopen the case.

A revised bill called the Dogani (Silenced) Bill was passed in late October 2011 to abolish the statute of limitations for sex crimes against minors and the disabled.

In 2012, the former administrator was sentenced 12 years in prison and ordered to wear an electronic anklet for 10 years following his release.

The movie stars pre-Goblin Korean heartthrob Gong Yoo and Jung Yu Mi.

Watch the trailer here.

2. Memories of Murder (2003)

Memories of Murder is based on the true story of the first known series of murders in South Korean history which took place in Gyeonggi Province.

Between October 1986 and April 1991,  female victims ranging from 14 to 71 were each found gagged and murdered. Some have compared the murders to those of the Zodiac Killer.

While the film itself never mentions the total body count, authorities found a total of 10 similar murders. Forensic evidence indicates that the suspect was a man in his 20s, about 165cm to 170 with a B blood type.

Spoiler alert: Just like the film murderer, the real murderer has not been caught.

Watch the trailer here.

3. Han Gong Ju (2013)

The Miryang Gang rape which happened in a South Koreas middle school in 2004  saw at least 41 male high school students gang-rape a number of middle- and high school girls over the course of 11 months.

As if these incidents weren’t bad enough, the way the police managed the case sparked more controversy as they mistreated the victims and treated the offenders leniently.

In the end, the court sent only five suspects to juvenile detention centres. Additionally, none of them were convicted of criminal charges.

Loosely-based on the incident, the movie circles around Han Gong Ju (Chun Woo Hee) who loses her friend after both became victims of a terrible gang rape incident.

Watch the trailer here.

4.Hope (2013)

Hope is based on the infamous Nayoung case in 2008.

Nayoung is the alias given to a 8-year-old girl who was found nearly dead in a public toilet. Later, authorities convicted a 57-year-old man – who had a history of sexual assaults – for raping and beating Nayoung.

The court sentenced the perpetrator to only 12 years in prison which sparked an outrage in the country due to the brutality of the crime.

Nayoung sustained irreversible injuries to her genitals, anus and intestine. Initially she had to wear a colostomy bag to replace her missing organs.

As to why a movie about such a horrendous tragedy has such an uplifting title?

Hope’s director Lee Joon Ik told Korean Cinema Today that he wanted to make a happy movie that begins with a tragedy.

“I am going to present a human drama where hope blooms at the edge of happiness and desperation, after a series of ordeals and hardships.”

Watch the trailer here.

5. Children (2011)

When five boys went out to spend the national holiday catching frogs at Mount Waryong and never returned, it was bound to create a media frenzy.

The group disappeared on March 26, 1991 but their bodies were only found 11 years later.

The initial cause of death was believed to be hypothermia. Further investigation, however, revealed that three of the skulls showed blunt-force trauma and one had been shot in the head with a shotgun.

Not only does this case remain unsolved, but the statute of limitations on this case expired in 2006.

Besides Children (2011), the incident also inspired a 1992 movie called Come Back, Frog Boys.

Watch the trailer.

6.Way Back Home (2013)

In 2004, the French immigration authority arrested a Korean housewife named Jang Mi Jeong upon her arrival at Paris Orly Airport.

She claimed she was asked by a family friend, whom she had known for more than 10 years, to bring a bag of uncut diamonds to France.

That bag of precious stones turned out to be some 17kg of cocaine.

The movie follows the case which led Jang to serve two years in prison in Martinique, an island in the Carribean Sea.

The filming of this movie took place over three weeks at a women’s prison in Martinique. It features actual guards and prisoners as supporting characters.

Watch the trailer here.

7. The Case of Itaewon Homicide (2009)

When two friends are suspected of murder, it could turn into a “he said, she said” situation which is what happened in The Case of Itaewon Homicide.

In the actual murder which was called the Itaewon Burger King Murder, Arthur Patterson and Edward Lee were accused of fatally stabbing Hongik college student Jo Jung Pil in 1997.

Lee was freed a year later due to lack of evidence. As for Patterson whose father was a former US army officer, he was released on special amnesty.

After the release of this film, Jo Jong Pil’s family demanded the case to be reopened. DNA evidence discovered by authorities revealed Patterson as the killer.

Critics praised Jang Geun Suk who played Robert J. Pearson (character inspired by Patterson) for his first English-speaking role in this movie.

Watch the trailer here.

8.Jiseul (2012)

Jiseul is set during the Jeju Uprising or Jeju Massacre, an insurgency on Jeju Island following an anticommunist suppression campaign that lasted from April 3, 1948 until May 1949.

This movie, however, does not focus on the suppression but rather on the true story of a group of villagers who hid in a cave for 60 days to escape military attack.

They struggled with cold and hunger, surviving on jiseul (potato in Jeju dialect).

The movie was the first Korean film to have won the prestigious World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

9.The Chaser (2008)

The Chaser is loosely based on Yoo Young Chul, a convicted serial killer and self-confessed cannibal.

Yoo admitted to killing 21 people, mostly prostitutes or masseuses and wealthy old men although he was only convicted of 20 as one case was dismissed on technicality.

His backstory or motives seem straight out of an episode of Criminal Minds as he says he hated the rich due to his childhood raised in poverty and his former lover working as a masseuse.

Ha Jung Woo who portrayed Je Yeong Min (the character inspired by Yoo) became The Chaser’s breakout star as he garnered high praise from local and international critics.

It even gained some props from The Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan who cited this as his favourite Korean movie.

Watch the trailer here.

10.Voice of a Murderer (2007)

This film is a fictionalised story based on the abduction of nine-year-old Lee Hyung Ho on Jan 29, 1991.

Although 87 calls were made to the parents demanding USD75,000 in ransom, Lee’s body was found 44 days after he went missing. What makes this even more tragic is that he was actually killed two days after being kidnapped.

Like some of the movies listed here, the killer was never caught.

In Voice of a Murderer, the boy’s name is Han Sang-woo, and it  focuses on the haunting and emotionless voice of the kidnapper as he taunts the boy’s parents, who become restless, frustrated and angry day by day.

Watch the trailer here.

Read more:

10 more South Korean movies based on real life events to watch