Memories of Murder is a 2003 South Korean crime thriller film co-written and directed by Bong Joon-ho. It is loosely based on the true story of the first confirmed serial murders in Korea, which took place between 1986 and 1991 in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. Song Kang-ho and Kim Sang-Kyung star as Detective Park and Detective Seo, respectively, two of the detectives trying to solve the crimes.
The film was director Bong’s second feature after his 2000 debut film Barking Dogs Never Bite. The screenplay was adapted by Bong and Shim Sung-bo from Kim Kwang-rim’s 1996 play Come to See Me on the same theme. The film earned critical acclaim for its tone, cinematography, editing, score, Song’s performance, and Bong’s direction and screenplay. The film received thirty awards and nominations and is considered by many to be one of the best South Korean films ever made. Now, know about the Memories of Murder movie.
Memories Of Murder: Movie Synopsis
In October 1986, two women are found raped and murdered on the outskirts of a small town. Local detective Park Doo-man, who has never dealt with such a serious case before, is overwhelmed – the evidence is collected improperly, the police’s investigative methods are suspect, and their forensic technology is almost non-existent.
Park claims he has a way to identify suspects by eye contact. He decides to interrogate the scarred, mentally challenged boy Baek Kwang-ho first because he has been following one of the victims around town. Park uses his eye contact method, thinking Baek is responsible and has his partner Cho extract Baek’s confession.
Seo Tae-Yoon, a detective from Seoul, volunteers to help them. However, he and Park’s methods clash. Seo considers Baek’s hands too weak and scarred to be able to commit such a complicated crime and clear his name. After more murders are committed, he realizes that the killer waits until a rainy night and only kills women in red. Officer Kwon Kwi-ok realizes that the local radio station is always asked to play a specific song during the nights when the murders are committed.
Park, Cho, and Seo arrive at the latest crime scene to investigate in various ways, but a local man is masturbating in a woman’s red underwear. Park and Cho restrain the man and brutally beat him. With Kwon’s help, Seo finds the surviving killer.
Upon learning that the killer’s hands were noticeably soft, Seo cleans the man because his hands are rough. Furious that they lost their suspect, Park fights with See until Kwon alerts them that a song is playing on the radio. They realize it’s raining, but arrive too late and find another woman murdered. Park, Seo, and Cho finally decide to work together.
During the autopsy of the last victim, pieces of peaches are found in the body. The clues lead them to factory worker Park Hyeon-gyu. Seo notes that his hands are soft, as described by the survivor. Hyeon-gyu begins to show discomfort when Seo presents the peaches and they think they’ve found the killer. Cho loses control and beats up Hyeon-gyu, prompting their supervisor to ban him from the interrogation room. Park and Seo listen to Baek’s earlier confession.
Seo points out that he’s talking like someone else did it, and they realize that he knew the details of the murder because he was a witness. They go to Baek’s father’s restaurant but find a drunken Cho there. As people watch the news and mock the police, he beats everyone up and Baek joins the fight, swinging a wooden board at Choa’s leg and accidentally impaling her with a rusty nail. Park and Seo chase after Baek and interrogate him, but he freaks out and runs into the path of an oncoming train, where he is hit and killed. “Memories of Murder.”
Park learns that Cho will have to have his leg amputated because the nail caused tetanus, making him feel guilty. They discover sperm on one of the bodies, but due to the lack of DNA analysis technology in Korea, the sample is sent to the United States to confirm if Hyeon-gyu is the killer.
A young girl is killed that night. At the crime scene, Seo recognizes the girl as the same schoolgirl he befriended during the investigation. Enraged, he attacks Hyeon-gyu until he is interrupted by Park bringing the results from America. The sample is deemed inconclusive in relation to Hyeon-gyu’s DNA, and Park lets Hyeon-gyu go.
In 2003, the crimes remain unsolved and Park is now a father and businessman. He happens to pass by the first crime scene and decides to visit it, learning from a little girl that an unknown man had recently visited the crime scene, who said he remembered something he had done there a long time ago.
Park asks the girl what he looked like, and she tells him that he had a “normal” face and was someone who looked very ordinary. The film ends with Park looking directly into the camera, seemingly trying to spot the killer in the audience using the eye contact method. “Memories of Murder.’
Memories of Murder Ending, Explained: What Happened At The End?
Later, the detectives try to analyze the tapes of Baek’s interrogation. It was discovered that the boy knew various details about the murders that were not known to anyone. This means that even though he did not commit the crime, he was there to witness it. As the detectives try to chase him, he gets caught in the crosshairs of an oncoming train and is killed.
New evidence emerged when traces of semen were found on the dead girl’s body. They are sending this sample to the United States for DNA testing. The schoolgirl in red is revealed to be murdered that night. She was Seo’s friend. He beats up Hyeon Gyu in exasperation, but the results come back and declare that it wasn’t his seed. This leads to Hyeon Gyu’s release.
Later, the film moves to 2003, when the killer is still not caught. Park is now a father and entrepreneur. A new murder is committed in the streets. Walking past the crime scene in the morning, he decides to visit. He needs a little girl who claims to have seen the killer and describes his features. The film ends with Park looking directly into the camera as he uses his eye contact method to pinpoint the killer from the audience.
Soon realizing the seriousness of the case, Seo Tae Yoon, a trained detective from Seoul, is assigned to the case. However, his methods do not match the traditional Park method of eye contact. Seo clears Baek’s name because his hands are too weak to commit such a crime. New numbers will start happening in the city in a similar pattern.
It is understood that the killer hunts women only on rainy nights and kills those wearing red clothing. The next single that comes on the scene is a song to be played during these rainy nights. It is the same song that is requested on the night of the murders.
As the trio search for evidence at the latest crime scene, they are once again at odds. They almost get too close to the killer, but he manages to escape. The night starts to rain and Cho points out that the song is playing on the radio again. Before the police could save the woman, she is already raped and murdered by the killer.
When the lady’s autopsy arrives from the forensics department, Seo and Park witness peach marks on her body. Analyzing the evidence, they reach a factory worker named Park Hyeon Gyu. One survivor of these heinous crimes described that whoever raped her had soft hands. This factory worker has soft hands, making him the prime suspect in the case. When Seo presents him with peaches, Hyeon Gyu begins to show discomfort. The detectives think they have finally caught up with their killer. “Memories of Murder.”