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Top 25 Best Korean Movies of all Time

With the historic wins scored by “Parasite” at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards, interest in Korean movies has probably never been higher. If you’re new to Korean film, you may not know where to start or what’s the best korean film to watch. But don’t worry, there’s good news — there are plenty of great Korean movies.

Diving into South Korean cinema opens a window into the country’s unique point of view shaped by rapid economic growth, technological innovation and the legacy of colonialism and war — while also providing peak entertainment with the national cinema’s talent for storytelling.

Here is the list of best Korean movies of all time to begin with, it includes all forms of genres from romantic movies to thriller, along with IMDb rating to make your life easy. So, what are you waiting for? Starting binge-watching the best Korean movies from today!

Best Korean Movies of all time –

1. The Housemaid (1960)

Director: Kim Ki-young


STAR CAST – Kim Jin-kyu, Ju-Jeung ryu.                                                                                          

A favourite of Bong Joon ho, this crime flick is a strong shout for being Korea’s greatest ever film. Director Kim Ki-young’s own inspiration came from flicking through a newspaper and stumbling on the story of a family thrown into chaos by the arrival of a domestic helper. The housemaid, played with a mix of coolness and heat by Lee Eun-shim, is the agent of chaos in his take on the tale: an intoxicating watch that tackles class, sexual allure and family dynamics in a way that will be very familiar to Parasite fans.

2. The Wailing (2016)

Genre: Horror

Director: Na Hong-jin

IMDB RATING – 7.4/10

STAR CAST – Kwak Do-won, Hwang Jung-min, Chun Woo-hee

A masterpiece of atmospheric horror ones of the best Korean Horror MovieThe Wailing is long, intense and ambitious, but it never feels like a slog. It also borrows elements from across the landscape of horror – from zombies to demons to creepy kids – but never turns into a messy patchwork. The story, centering on a police officer racing to save a village from a mysterious virus before it can claim his daughter, unfolds gradually enough that it all seems natural, allowing the sense of dread to envelop you like a fog.

3. Parasite (2019)

Genre: Drama


STAR CAST- Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong

Director: Bong Joon-ho

A landmark in world cinema, Parasite is the highest-grossing Korean movie in several countries, the first non-English production to win a Best Picture Oscar and universally regarded as one of the best films of the 21st century. All those things are well and good, but Bong Joon-ho’s true achievement was bringing the film’s biting capitalist critique to a global audience.

4. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Genre: Horror


STAR CAST – Im Soo-jung, Moon Geun-young, Yum Jung-ah

Director: Kim Jee-woon

This atmospheric horror fable, adapted from a folk story and released on what was a watershed year for Korean cinema (Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder and Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy were released just a few months either side of A Tale of Two Sisters), echoes The Shining in both its intricate setting (a gothic mansion full of looming corridors and William Morris wallpaper) and its chilling atmosphere.

5. Memories of Murder (2003)

Genre: Drama


STAR CAST- Song Kang-ho, Kim Sang-kyung, Kim Roi-ha

Director: Bong Joon-ho

There are many contenders for the best movie in the Bong Joon-ho filmography, but until Parasite dropped, this thriller was the consensus high watermark. Even now, there are many fans – Quentin Tarantino among them – who’d argue it’s still his finest moment. Revolving around a series of real-life murders that shocked a small town in the ’80s, Memories of Murder twists the police procedural into a potent indictment of a society unequipped to deal with such violence and death.

6. Peppermint Candy (2000)

Genre: Comedy


STAR CAST –Sol Kyung-gu, Moon So-ri, Kim Yeo-jin

Director: Lee Chang-dong

Screenwriter Lee Chang-dong’s directorial debut begins with a dishevelled man throwing himself in front of a train. Working backward through his life, the movie shows what led him to that point, in the process tracing 20 years of Korean political history, from Asian financial crisis of the late ‘90s to the 1980 clash between citizens and police known as the Gwangju Massacre. It’s a powerful melodrama with an elegiac tone and a heartbreaking end note.

7. Save The Green Planet (2003)

Genre: Comedy


STAR CAST -Shin Ha-kyun, Baek Yoon-sik, Hwang Jeong-min

Director: Jang Joon-hwan

In this zany, genre-bending comedy-fantasy a paranoid beekeeper (Shin Ha-kyun from Sympathy for Mr Vengeance) has kidnapped the CEO of a pharmaceuticals company (Baek Yoon-sik, The President’s Last Bang), convinced that he’s an alien from the planet Andromeda. Inspired in part by Rob Reiner’s Misery (1990), this offbeat cult classic also recalls the sci-fi tinged works of Terry Gilliam in its visuals.

8. Whispering Corridors (1998)

Genre: Thrillers


STAR CAST –Choi Kang-hee, Kim Gyu-ri, Lee Mi-yeon

Director: Park Ki-hyung

South Korean films were subject to heavy censorship during the ’70s, thanks to the country’s authoritarian regime. When the regime fell, it was game on for filmmakers like Park Ki-hyungwho’d been forced to sit on their edgier ideas and could ride a new wave of creativity that supercharged Korean cinema.

9. Joint Security Area (2000)

Genre: Thriller

IMDB RATING – 7.7/10

STAR CAST – Song Kang-ho, Lee Byung-hun, Lee Young

Director: Park Chan-wook

Park Chan-wook’s breakthrough doesn’t have the kinetic energy nor the bloodlust of his later films, but this mashed-up murder mystery-cum-police procedural-cum-political thriller is equally stunning and just as gut-wrenching. After a shooting within the heavily militarised DMZ between North and South Korean leaves a North Korean soldier dead, an army major  is brought in to investigate, and discovers that just about everyone involved is lying, though not for reasons that are immediately obvious .Joint Security Area was, for a time, the highest-grossing film in the country’s history.   

10. The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (2019)

IMDB RATING – 6.9/10

STAR CAST – Ma Dong-seok, Kim Mu-yeol, Kim Sung-kyu

A violent cop and a criminal kingpin – the latter played by Eternals’s Ma Dong-seok – join forces to catch a serial killer on the loose in Seoul. As with the best Korean genre pictures, Won-Tae Lee takes a cookie cutter story and ups the style to such dazzling heights that the clichés warp into something unrecognisable. Full of insane car chases, brutal fistfights and a lot of awesome suits, Sylvester Stallone bought the rights to a potential American remake, which gives you some indication of the class it’s in.

Read more – Best Korean adult movies of all time

11. Burning (2018)

Genre: Thriller


STAR CAST-Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jeon Jong-seo

Director: Lee Chang-dong

A master craftsman adept whose filmmaking is underpinned by a total command of mood, Lee Chang-dong is at his formidable best in a slow-burn thriller based on a Haruki Murakami short story, which features a Murakami-esque blend of missing women, lovelorn men, hungry cats and jazz. The alchemy between Lee and the Japanese author’s work seems obvious in retrospect – both love to bend their stories in unpredictable, ambiguous directions.

12. New World (2013)

Genre: Thriller


STAR CAST –Lee Jung-jae, Choi Min-sik, Hwang Jung-min

Director: Park Hoon-jung

I Saw The Devil screenwriter Park Hoon-jung’s violent gangster epic feels like a familiar blend of The Godfather and Infernal Affairs. But what it lacks in narrative originality it makes up for in flawless execution. The intricate story of a power struggle within a crime syndicate is brought to life by magnetic performances from Squid Game’s Lee Jung-jae, Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik, and Hwang Jung-min of The Wailing. Its rich visual signature, meanwhile, is provided by cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon, who recently shot Last Night in Soho and Disney’s Obi-Wan Kenobi series. 

13. Silenced (2011)


STAR CAST -Gong Yoo ,Jung Yu-mi ,Kim Hyun-soo

Director: Hwang Dong-hyuk

After Squid Game’s massive global success, Netflix added a bunch of director Hwang Dong-hyuk’s films to its platform. This powerful courtroom drama starring Gong Yoo (Train to Busan) is the highlight. It’s based on shocking true events that took place at the Gwangju Inhwa School for the hearing-impaired, in which deaf students were systematically abused by staff members. Despite its heavy subject matter, over four million South Koreans flocked to see it at the cinema.

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1 comment

Ayush September 8, 2023 at 8:24 pm

Great suggestions


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