[PICK] Finance Films that Pinpoints the Heart of Financial Crimes

Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

Economic issues reported in the media do affect our lives, but we often take a step back because they seem a bit difficult or unfamiliar. However, in order to enrich our lives a bit more, it is better to learn the hidden aspects of financial capitalism that impact the overall social economy. Let’s check out four movies that revolve around the economy that directly or indirectly affect our lives.


Black Money (2019)

Credit: Acemaker Movie Works

The movie was inspired by the sell-off of Korea Exchange Bank, which took place from 2003 to 2011 after the IMF. It captures the prosecutors’ performance in uncovering the rare financial corruption case in which a bank with an asset value of 70 trillion KRW was sold at 1.7 trillion KRW due to complicated interests between the Financial Supervisory Service, a large law firm and an overseas equity fund. The unfamiliar economic terms like stocks, shares and finance and complicatedly intertwined interests could have a high threshold, but curiosity arises in that it puts “money,” the central part of our lives, in the center. The movie unravels financial irregularities that have led to social turmoil and crisis with an easy-to-understand story structure, and in the end, it emphasizes the message of “you must learn because if you don’t, you’ll get screwed,” arousing not only entertainment fun but also awakening.


Default (2018)

Credit: CJ Entertainment

Inspired by an article that reported about a secretive task force during the financial crisis, the movie became the first Korean film that directly dealt with the 1997 IMF crisis. It unfolds the story of those who foretold and tried to prevent a crisis of sovereign bankruptcy, those who considered the crisis as an opportunity, and those who were helpless in the midst of unprecedented crisis into individual episodes like The Big Short, vividly capturing the tense moment just before the economic disaster that swept the nation without warning. Its star-studded cast that includes Kim Hye Soo, Yoo Ah In, Cho Woo Jin, Huh Joon Ho and Vincent Cassel also stands out. You can see the reasons behind the changes made in industrial structure and society since 1997, and the film doesn’t just deal with the IMF era but also suggests there a second financial crisis can come again at any time.


The Scam (2009)

Credit: Showbox

It’s the stock version of “Tazza: The High Rollers.” It deals in earnest with the common but concealed market manipulation. It is a story about an ordinary man who jumps into the stock market hoping for one big shot, fighting to the finish after getting involved with those manipulating the market. Thanks to the director’s effort of digging into the world for two years, the movie shows a high sense of reality. Park Yong Ha, Kim Min Jung, Park Hee Soon and Kim Moo Yeol realistically portray a group of humans who do whatever they can to satisfy their desires. By detailedly describing the group conducting the market manipulation, which only exists in rumors, the movie makes it easy to see the unreasonable structure of the stock market, where ordinary stock investors are bound to get dragged into.


Money (2018)

Credit: Showbox

The story is about an aspiring stockbroker who dreams of making big money, taking the chance after meeting an anonymous mastermind who secretly controls the stock market, and later getting tracked down by the Financial Supervisory Service. It depicts Korea’s current state, where “money” became the one that earns money, not hard work, through a protagonist who accepts a dangerous proposal. The entire film feels like a one-man show as Ryu Jun Yeol’s presence comes under the spotlight as he plays a character gets drunk by the taste of success given by money. Of all the works he worked on, this is by far the most “colorful” film he worked on. The movie is far from justice, but it follows the change and growth the main character experiences and leaves room for the viewers to think about what choices we would have made or the definition of money in an era where money is the most prioritized.

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