30 Korean Movies (Besides Parasite) That You Should Watch
20th March, 2020
Parasite’s acclaim is proof that it’s about time we stopped sleeping on Korean cinema. Taking home 4 Oscars, the movie gave us a fantastic glimpse into the K-film industry. A world full of brilliant movies in terms of production, storyline, and so much more, it is a joy for anyone stepping into it for the first or tenth time. If you loved Parasite, and want to discover more gems, here are some must-watch Korean movie recommendations for you.
Genre: Action & Adventure Director: Hwang In-ho What’s it about? A girl with a developmental disability lives with her much-loved younger sister. When the sister is murdered by a ruthless serial killer, she seems to lose grasp on what little sanity she has left, paving the way to a sordid tale of revenge.
Genre: Drama Director: Hwang Dong-hyuk What’s it about? Based on a true story, the plot follows the story of deaf students who were victims of physical and sexual abuse. The release of this overwhelming movie led to policy changes on a national level.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller Director: Jang Hang-jun What’s it about? A young man’s brother suddenly reappears 19 days after being kidnapped. He begins to notice changes in the latter’s behavior and not much seems to add up anymore, leading to him suspecting the whole family. Definitely not the teary family reunion one would expect!
Genre: Romance, Drama Director: Kim Ki-duk What’s it about? A drifter, Tae-suk squats in vacant homes when he, one day, stumbles into the home of Sun-Hwa, who then decides to leave with him. What follows is 88 minutes of action and gasp-worthy sequences.
Genre: Crime, Drama Director: Lee Joon-ik What’s it about? A child is kidnapped, abused, and beaten while on her way home from school but survives and is able to identify her attacker. The movie follows her life post the attack as she tries to find her new normal.
The Host (2006)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Action & Adventure Director: Bong Joon-ho What’s it about? An unknown monster attacks the coast of the Han River and kidnaps the daughter of Park Gang-du, who will stop at nothing to bring his daughter back. If you love a good family thriller drama, you must check this movie out!
Joint Security Area (2000)
Genre: Drama, Action-Thriller Director: Park Chan-wook What’s it about? Two North Korean soldiers are found dead at a North Korean border house, and it’s all up to Swiss Army Major Sophie E. Jean to investigate the events to stop an all-out war. Did you know that this border is actually a tourist attraction?
Miracle in Cell No. 7 (2013)
Genre: Drama Director: Lee Hwan-kyung What’s it about? A mentally disabled man is falsely accused and arrested for the abduction, assault, and murder of a minor. Years later, his daughter studies to become a lawyer and proves her father’s innocence. Emotional devastation level: Over 100000.
Ode to My Father (2014)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Drama Director: Yoon Je-kyoon What’s it about? The movie follows the story of an ordinary man and his journey from childhood to adulthood, where he is first separated from his family and then has one of his own. A slice-of-life flick, it acquaints the audience to the challenges of living.
The Handmaiden (2016)
Genre: Drama, Romance Director: Park Chan-wook What’s it about? A young woman is hired as the handmaiden for a Japanese heiress. Dark secrets are revealed at every turn and the phrase double-cross is an understatement. One thing this movie makes you realize — love may just be the strongest push to survive.
The Man from Nowhere (2010)
Genre: Action & Adventure Director: Lee Jeong-beom What’s it about? A former operator for the South Korean Army takes on a drug and organ trafficking cartel when they kidnap a child — a little girl who is his only friend. This one is unexpectedly emotional for an action film and is a must-watch.
1987- When The Day Comes (2017)
Genre: Drama Director: Jang Joon-hwan What’s it about? Based on real-life events, the movie follows the aftermath of the death of a student protester in police custody and the resultant June democratic uprising. Keep your notepads and pens at the ready because this movie constantly shifts between multiple characters and plotlines.
Hwayi- A Monster Boy (2013)
Genre: Action, Mystery & Suspense Director: Jang Joon-hwan What’s it about? With a kidnapping gone wrong, five criminals are now left with an infant on their hands. They raise him to be a criminal, but a new contract sends warning signals through the group — uncovering secrets and overthrowing life as is known till now.
The Age of Shadows (2016)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Drama, Thriller Director: Kim Jee-woon What’s it about? Set during the Korean Resistance, we have a Korean policeman on one side and members of the resistance on the other. In this age of shadows, how long will the light stay hidden?
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense Director: Bong Joon-ho What’s it about? A woman lives with her intellectually-disabled son, who is is charged with murder based on seemingly circumstantial evidence. Are the charges true? Or is it prejudice? The twists and turns in this movie will leave you dumbfounded.
Along With The Gods – The Two Worlds (2017)
Genre: Drama, Action, Fantasy Director: Kim Yong-hwa What’s it about? A dead firefighter has to figure out his place in the afterlife. With the help of three grim reapers, he tries to get past the seven trials that will help decide his deadly fate (yes, pun intended). Frankly speaking, the afterlife sounds incredibly stressful.
A Hard Day (2014)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Drama Director: Kim Seong-hun What’s it about? A corrupt cop gets into an accident and ends up killing a homeless man. He tries to cover up the murder but too bad for him it doesn’t end there. Instead, it devolves into a cesspool quicker than you can say stop.
Genre: Action & Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy Director: Bong Joon-ho What’s it about? Mija and her best friend Okja live in the mountains of South Korea, but certain events lead to the latter being taken away. Determined Mija sets out to bring her friend home, making this a beautiful watch about the bonds of friendship.
A Taxi Driver (2017)
Genre: Drama Director: Jang Hoon What’s it about? Based on real events, the movie follows the story of a down-on-his-luck taxi driver who ferries a German journalist in military-seized Gwangju. The movie is a combination of real and fictional elements and portrays the story of lives during a military crisis.
The Silenced (2015)
Genre: Mystery/Thriller Director: Lee Hae-young What’s it about? A young girl is sent to a mysterious boarding school to recover. While her condition gradually improves, a series of events forces her to turn sleuth. The movie is set in the 1930s and has just the right amount of tension to leave you shook.
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense Director: Lee Chang-dong What’s it about? An aspiring writer performs odd jobs to make ends meet. A childhood friend requests him to look after her cat while she’s away, but things take a turn for the bizarre when she comes back. You’ll have to watch it to see what happens next.
I Saw the Devil (2011)
Genre: Action, Mystery & Suspense Director: Kim Jee-woon What’s it about? A psychopathic serial killer, a brutally murdered fiancé, a revenge-seeking agent, and traumatizing incidences come together in this action-packed film. Recipe for a blockbuster? Audiences definitely thought so, making this movie a massive commercial success!
Memories of Murder (2003)
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense Director: Bong Joon-ho What’s it about? A pair of detectives run around town trying to solve multiple cases of women being brutally assaulted and murdered by a serial killer. With challenges of rudimentary technology and clashing personalities, the movie frustrates and puzzles in turns, remaining engaging through it all.
Peppermint Candy (2000)
Genre: Drama Director: Lee Chang-dong What’s it about? The movie opens with a man committing suicide, followed by the events of the last two decades that led to his eventual demise. A heartfelt and touching story, it will absolutely leave you in tears.
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense Director: Kim Jee-woon What’s it about? Inspired by an ancient Korean folktale, the movie follows two sisters who return home from the hospital after their mother’s death. Waiting for them at their isolated lakeside home is their father’s new wife. Full of suspense, telling you anything more might ruin the story.
Bloody Reunion (2006)
Genre: Horror, Thriller Director: Lim Dae-woong What’s it about? Former students reunite to meet and cheer-up their wheelchair-bound sick teacher when a spate of murders turns the night into a horrific one. High-school reunions are bittersweet events, but this one could possibly convince you not to attend yours!
The Wailing (2016)
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense Director: Na Hong-jin What’s it about? A mysterious stranger arrives at a rural town, making the locals suspicious of his intentions. Soon after, people begin to murder each other for no distinctive reason. Terrifying much? Everyone who watched the film was convinced of it!
Genre: Thriller Director: Hong Won-chan What’s it about? Section chief Kim Byong-gook was known by his colleagues as a steady, family man. One day, he ups and kills his entire family, opening the door to cans of worms fed by the bitter corporate culture. As investigations begin, tensions begin mounting for the worst.
Train to Busan (2016)
Genre: Action, Horror, Mystery & Suspense Director: Yeon Sang-ho What’s it about? A zombie apocalypse witnesses a father trying to save his daughter by taking her to a safe place in Busan, only accessible by train. This movie is the perfect combination of gore, tension, and suspense — with just the right amount of emotion to leave you weepy.