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Top 25 Best Korean Movies of all Time

14. Oldboy (2003)

Genre: Thriller

IMDB RATING –8.4/10

STAR CAST -Choi Min-sik

Director: Park Chan-wook

In Korean cinema, there is Before Oldboy and After Oldboy. It’s the movie that drew international attention to the revolution happening in the country’s film industry, and with good reason, and the middle instalment of Park Chan-wook’s vengeance trilogy is an experience completely of its own genre.

15. Right Now, Wrong Then (2013)

IMDB RATING -7.1/10

STAR CAST –Jung Jae,Kim Min-hee,Youn Yuh

Director: Hong Sang-soo

A prolific auteur who specialises in funny, self-reflexive films about movie directors learning awkward life lessons,  Hong Sang-soo may sound like a Korean Woody Allen on paper but has a much more formally playful streak. It’s showcased in this entertaining and radically structured story about a male movie director who falls for a painter he meets while passing the time at a film festival in Suwon. We see their day together once; then we see it all over again, only with slight differences. This cinematic spot-the-difference device not only commands your undivided attention, but gets you thinking about the butterfly effect of tiny details on major moments in life.

16. Io Island (1977)

Director: Kim Ki-young

IMDB RATING – 6.6/10

STAR CAST-Choi Yun-seok ,Kim Chung

Not as well know internationally as The Housemaid, Kim Ki-young’s later murder-mystery has champions including Bong Joon ho and well worth seeking out. There’s something Antonioni-esque about its languid set-up: a rocky outcrop inhabited almost entirely by women divers, where the men are absent. A journalist goes missing, possibly via foul means, and a travel promoter finds himself needing to clear his name. Quickly, the plot leads into folk horror terrain to take in shamanism and the supernatural to offer a penetrating look at Korean male insecurity and a satisfyingly murky viewing experience.

17. The Chaser (2008)

IMDB RATING – 7.8/10

STAR CAST – Kim Yoon-seok ,Ha Jung-woo ,Seo Young-hee

Director: Na Hong-jin

Who you got: the disgraced cop turned pimp or the prostitute-murdering serial killer? Na Hong-jin’s debut feature is a morally ambiguous procedural with no true heroes, but it’s taut and engrossing in a way few American thrillers of the period ever achieved. While clearly indebted to the Park Chan-wook films that invigorated Korean cinema at the start of the decade, the violence is less stylised, resulting in a gritty, realistic actioner which, attitudinally, throws back to the crime dramas of the 1970s.

18. The Handmaiden (2016)

Genre: Drama

IMDB RATING – 8.1/10

STAR CAST – Kim Min-hee ,Kim Tae-ri ,Ha Jung-woo

Director: Park Chan-wook

Park Chan-wook turns Sarah Waters’ crime novel ‘Fingersmith’ into a byzantine and extremely thirsty mystery-thriller that will tie the unfocused in knots. The setting switches from the Victorian London of the book to Japanese-occupied Korea, a change that requires a whole new cargo of cultural specificity that Park delivers in three elegant, sensual parts. It’s a deeply heady tale of conmen, pickpockets, sex, revenge, double and triples crosses – and it may just be Park’s masterpiece

19. Aimless Bullet (1960)

Director: Yu Hyun-mok

IMDB RATING – 7.2/10

STAR CAST –Kim Jin-kyu, Choi Moo-ryong

A pioneering breakthrough for Korean cinema, this downbeat drama about a veteran searching for meaning (and a living wage) in postwar Seoul shook authorities enough that it was banned upon release in 1960. In the years since, the film has come to be seen as a neo-realist triumph. Shot on a meagre budget, amid the rubble of a city still digging itself out from conflict, it tells the story of a depressed soldier trying to make ends meet on an administrative salary so paltry it prohibits him from going to see a dentist about a nagging toothache. It paints a bleak picture of life in post-armistice Korea – abetted by the grimy black-and-white cinematography – while offering just enough hope to keep you from sinking into total despair. 

20. High Society (2018)

Genre: Drama

IMDB RATING – 5.6/10

STAR CAST- Park Hae-il, Soo Ae, Yoon Je-moon

The higher up the social ladder you go, the more you have to climb to protect your place. In this enticing drama about the ultimate power couple, an economics professor husband and his gallery-curator wife embark on an adventure to do whatever it takes to achieve upward mobility and stay there.

21. Midnight (2021)

IMDB RATING – 6.4/10

STAR CAST-Jin Ki-joo,Wi Ha-joon

Loved Squid Game? This 2021 Korean thriller stars Wi Ha-Joon (the actor who played Jun-Ho, the police officer, in the Netflix series) and features an intense, life-or-death storyline about a ruthless serial killer who hunts down a deaf woman through the streets of South Korea. 

22.Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … And Spring (2003)

IMDB RATING –8/10

STAR CAST – Kim Ki-duk

For those who prefer a more sentimental and emotional watch, you won’t regret trying out this beautifully meditative film from 2003. It follows the life of a Buddhist monk living in an isolated floating temple, as each passing season symbolizes a stage in his life.

23.The Villainess (2017)

Genre: Action

IMDB RATING – 6.6/10

STAR CAST – Kim Ok-vin, Min Ye-ji, Shin Ha-kyun

Craving a good Korean action movie? This stylish, exhilarating revenge thriller about a trained assassin on a rampage to escape her past delivers all the high-energy action sequences you could ever want. Just brace yourself for the gore!

24.Train to Busan

Genre: Thriller

IMDB RATING – 7.6/10

STAR CAST-Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi

A must-watch Korean thriller film, Train to Busan presents a fresh and original take on one of the most classic film genres — the zombie apocalypse flick — as it follows a man fighting for survival on a speeding train that’s overtaken by a zombie outbreak. Prepare to be on the edge of your seat the entire time while watching this one! 

25.Minari (2020)

A tender and stirring drama about a family of South Korean immigrants who take on the American dream in the 1980s rural Arkansas, this highly acclaimed film from Korean-American director Lee Isaac Chung received six Academy Award nominations (including for Best Picture!). You’ll probably want to keep a box of tissues handy for this one.

Genre: Drama

Director- Lee Isaac

IMDB RATING –7.4/10

STAR CAST – Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri


Done watching Korean Movies list? Here is the list of best Korean thriller web series, trust us, these series are must watch too!

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1 comment

Ayush September 8, 2023 at 8:24 pm

Great suggestions

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