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Burning: Overview, Cast, 7 Fun Facts & More

Overview of Burning

‘Burning’ is a South Korean film directed by Lee Chang-dong and co-written by Oh Jung-mi and Lee Chang-dong. The movie features Yoo Ah-in, Jeon Jong-seo and Steven Yeun. The movie revolves around two young men and a girl.

Lee Jong-su (Yoo Ah-in) works as a delivery man and one day he meets his childhood friend Shin Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo). As the story progresses, Jong-su and Hae-mi meet a mysterious young man, Ben (Steven Yeun). Jong-su feels uneasy about the intrusion of Ben into their life and doubts him as a threat to Hae-mi’s sound life.

Due to the stunning storytelling, the movie received global acclamation. Prestigious media companies like The New York Times, Associated Press and Los Angeles Times added ‘Burning’ to the top-10 movie list of 2018. Also, in the poll conducted among 150 critics from 28 countries ‘Burning’ was commended as one of the best films of the 21st century.


  • Name: ‘Burning’
  • Genre: Drama, Psychological thriller
  • Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jeon Jong-seo
  • Director: Lee Chang-dong
  • Screenplay by: Oh Jung-mi, Lee Chang-dong
  • Produced by: Lee Joon-dong, Lee Chang-dong
  • Production Companies: Pinehouse Film, NHK, Now Film, and Finecut
  • Distributed by: CGV Arthouse  in South Korea, Twin Co., Ltd in Japan
  • Cinematography: Hong Kyung-pyo
  • Music by: Mowg
  • Running time: Running time
  • Edited by: Kim Hyeon, Kim Da-won
  • Release dates: 16 May 2018 in Cannes, 17 May 2018 in South Korea, 1 February 2019 in Japan
  • Language: Korean
  • Country: South Korea, Japan
Kdramalive Image of Jeon Jong-seo in "Burning" (2018).
Image of Jeon Jong-seo as Shin Hae-mi in “Burning” (2018). Credit: Pinterest


  • Yoo Ah-in as Lee Jong-su
  • Jeon Jong-seo as Shin Hae-mi
  • Steven Yeun as Ben
  • Moon Sung-keun as Lawyer
  • Kim Soo-Kyung as Yeon-ju
  • Lee Joong-ok as Patrolman
  • Ban Hye-ra as Jong-su’s mother
  • Choi Seung-ho as Lee Yong-seok
  • Min Bok-gi as Judge
  • Lee Bong-ryun as Hae-mi’s sister
  • Song Duk-ho


Lee Jong-su is a budding novelist living a quiet life and doing random jobs to meet his needs. One day, he meets Shin Hae-mi, his childhood friend and neighbour. It’s been a while since they met, and Hae-mi has also undergone plastic surgery. Therefore, Jong-su is not able to recognise her at first glance. As a token of love, he gifts her a pink watch and while talking, Hae-mi tells Jong-su about her trip to Africa. As a favour, she asks him to take care of her cat, Boil, in her absence.

After settling some family matters, he visits Hae-mi’s apartment. There, she instructs him about the feeding timing of her cat. Besides that, he does not see her cat there. Jong-su’s and Hae-mi’s casual talks grow intense, and finally, they end up making love.

As planned, Hae-mi leaves for her trip, and Jong-su starts to feed Boil, though the cat does not mind appearing in front of its temporary caretaker. Still, Boil displays its presence in the house by eating the given food and using the litter box. Jong-su starts visiting Hae-mi’s apartment daily and develops a habit of masturbating in her apartment.

Kdramalive Image of Yoo Ah-in in "Burning" (2018).
Image of Yoo Ah-in as Lee Jong-su in “Burning” (2018). Credit: Pinterest

Around the time of Hae-mi’s return from Africa, Jong-su receives a call from her informing him that, due to a security threat, her flight will be stranded at Nairobi Airport for three days. The day she returns, Jong-su goes to pick her up from the airport and meets a young man named Ben, whom she befriended during her trip.

Soon the three of them start to hang out together, and Jong-su realises that Ben has a well-off background. Jong-su finds Ben to be a mysterious man, giving ambiguous answers to many of his questions. Also, he understands that Hae-mi has already formed an emotional bond with Ben.

Sitting and talking at Jong-su’s farm, Ben tells Jong-su about his weird hobby of burning abandoned greenhouses once every two months. Jong-su gets annoyed by Ben’s way of talking, and as a note of caution, Ben tells Jong-su that his next target is one of the greenhouses in Jong-su’s neighbourhood. An angry Jong-su scolds Hae-mi for getting sexually involved with random guys. Feeling insulted, she leaves with Ben in his car.

After their meet-up, Jong-su starts looking for the remains of burned greenhouses nearby. He finds none and wonders whether Ben has told the truth or not. In the middle of one of his investigations, he receives a call from Hae-mi’s number, which gets abruptly disconnected when he attends the call. He starts to worry about Hae-mi and goes to her apartment, faking that he has come to feed the cat.

Hae-mi’s apartment looked clean and tidy like never before, and there no longer exists the traces of a cat. To find Hae-mi, Jong-su starts to follow Ben. At a restaurant, Jong-su encounters Ben and asks him whether he burned the greenhouse that he once told him. Also, he asked about Hae-mi’s updates.

Kdramalive Image of Yoo Ah-in in "Burning" (2018).
Image of Yoo Ah-in as Lee Jong-su in “Burning” (2018). Credit: Pinterest

Ben confesses that he had burned the greenhouse that he targeted, and he has heard nothing from Hae-mi after the incident. Furthermore, he tells Jong-su that she has probably gone on a trip, and her trust in Jong-su makes him jealous.

One day, Jong-su goes to meet Ben at his apartment. There he finds a cat, which Ben claims is his adopted pet. Inspecting his restroom, Jong-su sees the pink watch that he had given to Hae-mi with other women’s jewellery. Being suspicious, Jong-su calls the cat ‘Boil’ when the cat runs out of Ben’s apartment, and the cat responds to the call. He instantly leaves the place.

Later, Jong-su calls Ben to the countryside, lying that he has found Hae-mi. When Ben arrives, Jong-su kills him and clears every piece of evidence by burning even his clothes in gasoline. In the end, he drives off naked in his truck.


‘Burning’ revolves around the lives of young people in the current world. The thread of the film is taken from the short story of Haruki Murakami. However, Murakami got the inspiration to write his short story ‘Barn Burning’ from the short story written by William Fualkner with the same name.

The movie as well as the short stories show the ambiguities and uncertainty of young people’s lives. It takes the audience on a psychological journey into the character’s mindset. Also, the film compels the viewers to read between the lines to grasp the correct knowledge about the situation.


No information is available.

Kdramalive Image of Yoo Ah-in in "Burning" (2018).
Image of Yoo Ah-in as Lee Jong-su in “Burning” (2018). Credit: Pinterest

Interesting Facts about Burning

  1. Director Lee Chang-dong is also involved in the production and the screenplay of ‘Burning’.
  2. The theme of the movie ‘Burning’ is taken from the short story ‘Barn Burning’ written by Haruki Murakami in his short story collection ‘The Elephant Vanishes’.
  3. Lee Chang-dong directed the film ‘Burning’ after a break of eight years.
  4. ‘Burning’ was premiered in the 2018 Cannes Film Festival on 16 May.
  5. ‘Burning’ won FIPRESCI International Critics’ Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
  6. In the 91st Academy Awards, ‘Burning’ was chosen as the South Korean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category.
  7. ‘Burning’ is the first Korean movie to get into the final nine-film shortlist in the 91st Academy Awards.


  1. Who is the director of the movie ‘Burning’?
    Lee Chang-dong is the director of the movie ‘Burning’.
  2. Is the South Korean movie ‘Burning’ based on a novel?
    ‘Burning’ is based on the short story ‘Barn Burning’ written by Haruki Murakami.
  3. When is ‘Burning’ released?
    ‘Burning’ is released on 17 May 2018 in South Korea.
  4. Is ‘Burning’ a Japanese movie?
    ‘Burning’ is a South Korean movie.
  5. What is the Instagram ID of Yoo Ah-in?
  6. What is the Instagram ID of Jeon Jong-seo?

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