The Host – South Korea, 2006 – overview and reviews

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the host
The Host – original title: Hangul: 괴물; RR: Gwoemul; literally: “Monster” – is a 2006 South Korean horror feature film directed by Bong Joon-ho. The movie stars Song Kang-ho, Byeon Hee-bong, Park Hae-il, Bae Doona and Go Ah-sung.

The film is a combination of a monster movie plot and political commentary.


The Parks are an average suburban Seoul family; Park Senior, in his 60’s, runs a kiosk by the Han River; his eldest son is a bit of a loser whose wife has left him years ago with a young daughter; his younger son is a layabout with no intention of working; his daughter alone makes him proud – a prizewinning archer of note.

Granddaughter Hyun-Seo is the apple of everyone’s eye so when she’s abducted by a horrible monster that emerges from the depths of the Han one day, the family is righteously upset. The prospective loss of the only thing holding them all together galvanizes them into a monster-hunting posse extraordinaire as off they go to slay the dreadful beast…


Domestically, 13 million tickets were sold making it the highest grossing South Korean film of all time.


Reviews [click links to read more]:

” …Bong Joon-ho has really done something unique with the genre in much the same way he played with the conventions of the serial killer genre in Memories of Murder. Without getting carried away in hyperbole, “The Host” is easily one of the best monster movies ever made.” Beyond Hollywood

“Bravely shifting tones from the horrific to the slapstick and back again, Bong Joon-ho has made a movie that’s comprised almost equally of family sitcom, political indictment, high-urban paranoia and maximum-geek, monster-movie delight.” Toronto Star

“A livid bureaucratic satire, berserk creature feature and surprisingly somber drama, 2006’s The Host made for a convulsive, wild ride — simultaneously eliciting squirms and giggles by mashing up Silent Spring’s finger-pointing anger with The Thing’s wiseass wickedness.” The Film Yap


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“Despite the extraordinary CGI scenes of a fully fledged monster attacking the big city, harking back to the glory days of Godzilla and Kong, I found something oddly unscary about the creature itself. And the film, though intriguing, doesn’t quite have the raw, crazy showmanship of an old-fashioned monster movie.” The Guardian

“South Korean genre chameleon Bong Joon-ho works his singularly wonky sense of black humor (several killings play like punch lines) and sharp sense of social satire, and fashions a giant-monster-movie for our ecologically fraught, precariously unstable moment.” Rolling Stone

Cast and characters:

  • Song Kang-ho as Park Gang-du
  • Byun Hee-bong as Park Hee-bong
  • Park Hae-il as Park Nam-il
  • Bae Doona as Park Nam-joo
  • Go Ah-sung as Park Hyun-seo
  • Oh Dal-su as Voice of the monster
  • Lee Jae-eung as Se-jin
  • Lee Dong-ho as Se-joo
  • Yoon Je-moon as The homeless man
  • Yim Pil-sung as Nam-il’s senior, “Fat Guevara”
  • Kim Roi-ha as Yellow 1 (in the funeral)
  • Park No-sik as The inquiry officer
  • Go Soo-hee as The hostage nurse
  • David Joseph Anselmo as Donald
  • Scott Wilson as U.S. Military doctor
  • Paul Lazar as American doctor
  • Brian Lee as Young Korean doctor


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