[PICK] Korean Thriller Films that Revolve Around the “Phone”

Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

The recent Netflix film The Call and MBC drama Kairos feature “telephone” that connects the past and the present. These phone calls that connect characters living in two different times are not just simple “calls” but also play the role of changing fate and blazing a new trail in characters’ lives, doubling the tension. If you find the stories where the characters get connected through a phone like in The Call and Kairos intriguing, then let’s take a look at these films in which phones play the critical role of either changing the fate or start of a terrible nightmare.


The Phone (2015)

Credit: Next Entertainment World

The Phone, starring Uhm JI Won and Son Hyun Joo, tells the story of a couple who tries to change the tragic fate when the past and the present are connected by a phone call. When his wife, who was murdered a year ago, calls him in a calm voice as if nothing had happened, the confused man soon realizes that it’s not a dirty prank but a call from the past and begins life-altering struggles to prevent the imminent murder. The killer’s identity is revealed early on, but the fate of Dong Ho-Yeon Soo couple changes with their decisions, increasing the suspense. Actors’ passionate performances that add realistic immersion to the fantasy setting stand out.


The Terror Live (2013)

Credit: Lotte Entertainment

An anonymous caller to a radio station threatens to blow up a bridge and is actually blown to pieces just a few minutes later. � The psychological warfare between the radio DJ who wants to use this disaster as an opportunity and the terrorist demanding an apology from the president takes place in the fresh context of “a live broadcast of the terror,” and the vivid sense of reality that makes us feel like we’re standing at the middle of a terror sites is the film’s forte. Even though most of the scenes are conducted in a limited space of a radio station, the plot is unfolded in the view of Yoon Young Hwa that receives the blackmailing call, highlighting a sense of urgency. The movie will catch your eyes until the very end with its bold developments.


Midnight FM (2010)

Credit: Lotte Entertainment

It’s a thriller film about a confrontation between a radio DJ and a blackmailer that was released three years before The Terror Live. During her live radio show, a DJ receives a call from a listener, who took her sister and daughter as hostages, and begins a nerve-racking battle. Soo Ae plays DJ Sun Young, who deals with the criminal alone to save her family, while Yoo Ji Tae takes the role of a listener Dong Soo who is engulfed by twisted heroism and wants to lead the broadcast as he pleases, delivering a vivid suspense.


Voice of a Murder (2007)

Credit: CJ Entertainment

The movie was inspired by the 1991 kidnapping and murder of Lee Hyung Ho. In the 40 days from when a boy is kidnapped to is found murdered, the parents are seized by despair and anger while the kidnapper continues his bold and meticulous calls. If existing works on kidnapping have heightened tensions with dramatic developments such as confrontation with the culprit and personal revenge, Voice of a Murder highlights the desperation of parents who had their kid taken away and assailed by persistent threats, drawing a heartfelt family love. The movie also makes “the voice of the kidnapper,” which is still the only clue of the real culprit, another main character in the film, and the fact that Kang Dong Won has been cast for the role but solely appears with his voice is quite impressive. Kang Dong Won flawlessly plays the role of “faceless kidnapper” that shows zero emotions only with his voice, and Sol Kyung Gu and Kim Nam Joo perfectly reproduce the feelings that the parents have gone through every day as they hang on to a faint hope of getting back their kid.


Phone (2002)

Credit: Buena Vista International

Along with Nightmare, this film helped Ha Jin Won win the title of “horror queen” at the beginning of her career. It tells the story of a reporter who suffers from menacing calls, getting caught up in a mysterious death after changing her phone number. When her friend’s daughter shows disturbing symptoms and the blackmailer who has been harassing her nonstop has a heart attack after answering her phone, Ji Won realizes that her new phone number is the reason and starts to investigate. It’s a horror mystery story derived from humans’ hypocrisy and ugly nature, and the child actor Eun Seo Woo’s “possessed” acting will put a chill down your spine.

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