Burning (Movie)

Title — Burning
Available on — Netflix, Peacock, Hoopla, MUBI, AsianCrush
Production Country — South Korea, Japan
Release Date — 2018
An aspiring writer goes to the airport to pick up a high school friend returning from a trip to Africa but is disheartened to see her with another man.

🪶 Story & Synopsis

In Lee Chang-dong’s 2018 masterpiece, “Burning,” viewers are drawn into a haunting world of love, innocence, and lurking danger. The film follows Jong-su, a young deliveryman played by Yoo Ah-in, who reconnects with his childhood friend Hae-mi, portrayed by Jeon Jong-seo. Their lives take a mysterious turn when they encounter the enigmatic Ben, played by Steven Yeun, a man whose sophisticated aura masks a potentially sinister nature.

The storyline unfolds as Hae-mi asks Jong-su to watch her cat while she is away, leading to a fateful meeting with Ben upon her return. Ben’s enigmatic presence and unsettling hobby spark Jong-su’s suspicions, triggering a series of events that culminate in a chilling climax. As the tension mounts, the film delves into themes of obsession, violence, and the blurred lines between reality and illusion.

The film’s slow-paced editing and lingering shots create an atmosphere of unease, keeping the audience on edge as the characters navigate a web of secrets and hidden motives. Steven Yeun’s portrayal of Ben adds a layer of complexity to the narrative, leaving viewers questioning his true intentions until the shocking finale.

“Burning” is a cinematic experience that transcends traditional genre boundaries, blending elements of psychological drama, thriller, and existential fable. With its thought-provoking themes and masterful storytelling, the film leaves a lasting impact on viewers, inviting them to ponder the deeper layers of human nature and the consequences of unchecked desire.

As the credits roll, “Burning” lingers in the minds of its audience, prompting reflection on the nature of obsession, the power of perception, and the haunting reality that lies beneath the surface of everyday life. Lee Chang-dong’s visionary direction, coupled with stellar performances from Yoo Ah-in, Jeon Jong-seo, and Steven Yeun, cements “Burning” as a modern classic that continues to captivate and unsettle audiences worldwide.

🧑 Cast & Crew

Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jun Jong-seo, Kim Soo-kyung, Moon Sung-keun, ChoI Seung-ho

Actor Role
Steven Yeun Ben
Jeon Jong-seo Shin Hae-mi
Yoo Ah-in Lee Jong-su
Moon Sung-geun Lawyer
Ok Ja-yeon Ja-yeon
Kim Shin-rok Lee Joong-ok
Song Duk-ho Patrolman

💬 Reviews and feedback

Grab your popcorn and buckle up, because we’re diving into the enigmatic world of “Burning” (2018). This South Korean masterpiece directed by Lee Chang-dong is not your average thriller. It’s like a puzzle box wrapped in a riddle, leaving viewers both mystified and mesmerized.

Imagine a movie that’s akin to a complex piece of abstract art. The more you stare at it, the more layers you uncover, each more puzzling than the last. “Burning” is precisely that—a beautifully cryptic slow burner that burrows deep into your mind, refusing to let go long after the credits roll.

As you step into the realm of “Burning,” be prepared for a rollercoaster of emotions. The film doesn’t spoon-feed you answers; instead, it challenges you to decipher its hidden meanings. It’s a cerebral workout that will leave you pondering long after you’ve left the theater.

Plot and Themes:

The storyline revolves around Jong-su, a young man who becomes entangled in a mysterious triangle with two intriguing characters—Haemi and Ben. The narrative unfolds like a slow-burning fuse, building tension with each passing scene.

At its core, “Burning” delves into themes of obsession, class divide, and societal alienation. It peels back the layers of human nature, showcasing how desires and insecurities can manifest in unexpected ways. The film is a reflection on the complexities of relationships and the darkness that lurks beneath seemingly ordinary lives.

Acting and Characters:

Yoo Ah-in delivers a stellar performance as Jong-su, capturing the character’s internal turmoil with nuance and depth. Steven Yeun shines as Ben, exuding an aura of mystery and menace that keeps viewers on edge. Jeon Jong-seo’s portrayal of Haemi adds an ethereal quality to the film, balancing innocence with hidden depths.

The chemistry between the three leads is palpable, drawing viewers into their tangled web of emotions. Each character brings a unique perspective to the narrative, adding layers to an already intricate plot.

Direction and Cinematography:

Lee Chang-dong’s direction is nothing short of masterful. He weaves together scenes with precision, creating an atmosphere thick with tension and unease. The pacing may be slow, but every frame is meticulously crafted to draw viewers deeper into the story.

The cinematography in “Burning” is breathtakingly beautiful yet haunting. From sweeping landscapes to intimate close-ups, every shot serves a purpose in conveying mood and emotion. The use of light and shadow enhances the film’s enigmatic nature, keeping audiences guessing till the very end.

Score and Production Design:

The score in “Burning” is minimalistic yet impactful. It heightens moments of suspense and drama without overpowering the narrative. The subtle use of music adds another layer of intensity to key scenes, leaving viewers on edge throughout.

The production design is understated yet effective in setting the tone for the film. From Jong-su’s humble surroundings to Ben’s luxurious lifestyle, each detail contributes to building a world that feels both familiar and foreign at the same time.

Special Effects and Editing:

While “Burning” may not rely heavily on flashy special effects, its use of visual symbolism is striking. Every detail—from Haemi’s dance in front of sunset to Ben’s elusive cat—serves as a piece in the larger puzzle that is this film.

The editing in “Burning” plays a crucial role in maintaining suspense and intrigue. The seamless transitions between scenes keep viewers engaged while slowly unraveling the mysteries at play.

Pace and Dialog:

The deliberate pace of “Burning” may not be for everyone, but it serves a purpose in building tension and suspense. Every conversation feels loaded with subtext, inviting viewers to read between the lines and uncover hidden truths.

The dialogues are sparse yet impactful, revealing insights into each character’s psyche. Every word spoken carries weight, adding depth to their motivations and desires.

Binge-watching Tips:

  • Pay attention to small details—they might hold key clues to unlocking the film’s mysteries.
  • Discuss your interpretations with fellow viewers for different perspectives on its meaning.
  • Take breaks if needed—the film’s atmospheric intensity can be overwhelming at times.

If you’re up for a cinematic experience that challenges your intellect while stirring your emotions,{” “} then “Burning” is definitely worth adding to your watchlist.
Ratings: 9/10<<p>>

Pros Cons
Beautifully cryptic Not as brilliant as critics think
Slow burner that lingers Unsubtle class critique
Wonderful murder mystery One strong sequence of violence
Fantastic payoff Some viewers may find it unsettling
Excellent psychological thriller Leaves viewers with unanswered questions


  • Burning (2018 film) - Wikipedia

    Burning(2018 film)



    Revised Romanization Beoning
    Directed by Lee Chang-dong
    Screenplay by
    • Oh Jung-mi
    • Lee Chang-dong
    Based on “Barn Burning”

    by Haruki Murakami

    Produced by
    • Lee Joon-dong
    • Lee Chang-dong
    Cinematography Hong Kyung-pyo
    Edited by
    • Kim Hyeon
    • Kim Da-won
    Music by Mowg


  • Burning (2018) - IMDb

    • Awards
      • 54 wins & 144 nominations
    • Ben
    • (as Yeun Sang-yeop)
    • Shin Hae-mi
    • (as Jong-seo Jeon)
    • Lawyer
    • (as Sung-Keun Moon)
    • Hae-mi’s Sister
    • (as Bong-ryeon Lee)
    • Seok-chan
    • (as Seok-Chan Jeon)
    • Shin-rok
    • (as Shin-rok Kim)
    • Won-hyeong
    • (as Wonhyeong Jang)
    • Self
    • (archive footage)
    • (uncredited)
    • Director
    • Writers
    • All cast & crew
    • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

    Did you know

    • TriviaThe scene in which the main characters talk at Jong-su’s house was filmed over a month. They were only able to shoot for a few minutes every day to capture consistent twilight on camera.
    • Quotes Shin Hae-mi: Do you know Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert, Africa It is said that Bushmen have two types of hungry people. Hungry English is hunger, Little hungry and great hungry. Little hungry people are physically hungry, The great hungry is a person who is hungry for survival. Why do we live, What is the significance of living? People who are always looking for these answers. This kind of person is really hungry, They called the great hungry.
    • SoundtracksGénériqueWritten by Miles Davis (uncredited)Performed by Miles DavisCourtesy of Warner/Chappell Music FrancePlayed during the dance scene with a background of a sunset

    The protagonist of Burning is a naïve young Korean, Jongsu, shuffling through a life that gets incrementally more interesting in each scene but not passionate until pushed by a lovely girl or a slippery enemy. Then it burns.

  • Burning movie review & film summary (2018) | Roger Ebert

    Everyone is hungry for something in “Burning,” the new film from South Korean master Lee Chang-dong. How that hunger manifests, and what hunger even signifies, is up for debate. The debate itself is too dangerous to even be spoken out loud, since it threatens the class status quo. Based loosely on Haruki Murakami’s short storyBarn Burning, “Burning” is Lee’s first film in eight years, and it is a bleak and almost Darwinian vision of the world, survival of the fittest laid bare in sometimes shocking brutality. The three main characters circle warily, looking at each other with desire, mistrust, need, never certain of the accuracy of their perceptions. Lee’s explorations require depth and space. It’s a great film, engrossing, suspenseful, and strange.

⚠️ Explanation (Spoiler)

In the 2018 Korean Crime Drama “Burning,” directed by Lee Chang-dong, the story revolves around Jong-su, an aspiring author who reconnects with a childhood neighbor, Hae-mi. Their budding relationship takes a dark turn with the introduction of Ben, a wealthy and enigmatic man with a peculiar hobby. The cast includes Ah-In Yoo, Jong-seo Jun, and Steven Yeun in leading roles.

The film delves into both literal and metaphorical layers, offering a complex narrative that keeps viewers engaged. For fans of Bong Joon-ho’s works like “Parasite” and “Snowpiercer,” “Burning” promises a compelling watch.

The plot unfolds intriguingly, with Jong-su suspecting Ben of being a serial killer, especially as clues point towards Ben’s disturbing nature:

  • Ben’s lack of emotion and reference to his job as “playing” hint at a dark psyche.
  • The discovery of women’s accessories in Ben’s possession suggests a chilling trophy collection.
  • Ben’s jealousy towards Jong-su and the presence of Hae-mi’s cat in his home raise suspicions.
  • His confessed hobby of burning greenhouses adds to the ominous atmosphere.

The mysterious well that Hae-mi mentions adds to the uncertainty surrounding her character. Her questionable stories and erratic behavior lead Jong-su to doubt her credibility, creating a sense of unease and intrigue among viewers.

The film’s ending offers two interpretations, as explained by director Lee Chang-dong:

  1. Literal Explanation: Ben is portrayed as a sociopathic killer who murders Hae-mi, leading to Jong-su seeking vengeance by killing Ben.
  2. Metaphorical Interpretation: Alternatively, Ben may not be a killer, and Hae-mi simply moved on to a new life, while the conclusion of the movie reflects Jong-su’s novel-in-progress.

The layered storytelling in “Burning” blurs the lines between reality and fiction, leaving audiences to ponder the true nature of the characters and events depicted. With its suspenseful narrative and thought-provoking themes, the film offers a gripping cinematic experience that lingers long after the credits roll.

👪 Parents Guide & Age Rating


Age Rating:

Burning movie is not officially rated by the MPAA. However, based on the content and themes depicted in the film, it is recommended for mature audiences only.

Parental Guide:

Parents should be aware that Burning contains mature content that may not be suitable for younger viewers:

  • Sexual Content: The movie includes scenes of masturbation, a handjob, and a sex scene with upper body nudity.
  • Violence: There are themes of violence and suspense throughout the film.
  • Profanity: Profanity may be present in the dialogue.
  • Themes: The film explores complex themes of desire, mistrust, and emotional isolation.

Due to the adult themes and content, parents are advised to preview the movie before allowing teenagers to watch it. It is recommended for viewers who are mature enough to understand and appreciate the nuanced storytelling and character study presented in Burning.

📺 Streaming and where to watch

streaming service extra information
Netflix You can stream ‘Burning’ on Netflix. It is also available with ads on Netflix basic.
Peacock You can watch ‘Burning’ on Peacock.
Hoopla You can stream ‘Burning’ on Hoopla.
MUBI You can watch ‘Burning’ on MUBI.
AsianCrush You can watch ‘Burning’ on AsianCrush.

❝ Quotes and Cult

  • Do you know Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert, Africa It is said that Bushmen have two types of hungry people. Hungry English is hunger, Little hungry and great hungry. Little hungry people are physically hungry, The great hungry is a person who is hungry for survival. Why do we live, What is the significance of living? People who are always looking for these ...
    Shin Hae-mi
  • Everyone is hungry for something in "Burning," the new film from South Korean master Lee Chang-dong. How that hunger manifests, and what hunger even signifies, is up for debate. The debate itself is too dangerous to even be spoken out loud, since it threatens the class status quo.

🤖Burning Reddit Talks

Burning (2018) Reddit Summary


  • Burning is a critically acclaimed South Korean film directed by Lee Chang-dong.
  • It’s a slow-burning mystery that explores themes of class, wealth, and obsession.
  • The film has been praised for its beautiful cinematography, haunting atmosphere, and ambiguous ending.

Main Discussion Points

1. Is Ben a Murderer?

  • One of the central mysteries of the film is whether or not Ben (Steven Yeun) is a serial killer.
  • Some viewers believe that Ben killed Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), while others believe that he is innocent.
  • The film provides evidence to support both interpretations, leaving the viewer to decide.

2. Metaphorical Interpretations

  • Many viewers have interpreted Burning as a metaphor for various social and political issues.
  • Some see it as a critique of capitalism and the oppression of the working class.
  • Others see it as a commentary on the objectification of women and the dangers of obsession.

3. Cultural Commentary

  • Burning has been praised for its insightful commentary on Korean culture.
  • The film explores the gap between the wealthy elite and the working class.
  • It also examines the traditional Korean values of honor and loyalty.

4. Ambiguous Ending

  • The film’s ending is intentionally ambiguous, leaving many questions unanswered.
  • This has led to a wide range of interpretations, with viewers debating the meaning of the final scene.
  • Some believe that Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in) killed Ben, while others believe that Ben is still alive.

5. Haunting Atmosphere

  • Burning is known for its haunting and atmospheric cinematography.
  • The film’s slow pace and deliberate camerawork create a sense of unease and tension.
  • The use of sound and music also contributes to the film’s unsettling atmosphere.


  • “Burning is a masterpiece of ambiguity and suspense. It’s a film that will stay with you long after you’ve seen it.” – The New York Times
  • “Lee Chang-dong has crafted a hypnotic and haunting film that is both beautiful and disturbing.” – The Guardian
  • “Burning is a must-see for fans of slow-burning mysteries and thought-provoking cinema.” – Variety


Burning is a complex and challenging film that has generated a wide range of interpretations. It’s a film that will stay with you long after you’ve seen it, and it’s sure to spark lively discussions among viewers.

Top discussions

❓ Frequently Asked Questions

What is the point of Burning movie?

Burning movie delves into the concept of metaphor, exploring how people use objects and actions to represent deeper meanings and emotions, often resorting to obsession or violence to break through abstractions.

What happened at the end of the movie Burning?

At the end of Burning, Jong-su stabs Ben to death, sets his body and car on fire, and drives off naked. This intense and shocking sequence concludes the film.

What is the burning movie about?

The movie Burning serves as a portrayal of how patriarchy can overshadow caste and class, yet bring survivors together through shared experiences.

Is Burning movie on Netflix?

Burning is available for streaming on Peacock and Netflix with a subscription. Additionally, it can be rented or purchased on platforms like Fandango at Home and Prime Video.

Where did they film Burning?

Burning was primarily filmed in various locations in South Korea, including Huam-dong, Seoul; Tanhyeon-myeon, Paju; and Haeundae-gu, Busan. The film received critical acclaim and won several awards for its exceptional direction and cinematography.

🔀 Recommended Movie and TV Show

List of movies and TV shows similar to Burning:

  1. Shoplifters: A 2018 Japanese drama film.
  2. Okja: A 2017 drama, adventure, sci-fi film from the USA/South Korea.
  3. Secret Sunshine: A 2007 South Korean drama with romantic elements.
  4. Minari: A 2020 drama film from the USA.
  5. The Handmaiden: A movie similar to Burning (2018).
  6. Oasis: A 2002 South Korean romantic drama.
  7. Poetry: A 2010 South Korean drama film.
  8. Thirty: A 2019 German drama.
  9. The Wailing: A movie with similar themes to Burning.
  10. Memories of Murder: A film similar to Burning.
  11. Parasite: A 2019 movie with similarities to Burning.

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