Top 10 Korean movies to watch

To make it easy for those interested in delving into the depths of the Korean cinema scene, we've produced a list of ten of the finest films to come out of the East Asian country

What are the Top 10 Korean movies? Bong Joon-ho and his movie “2019″ masterpiece Parasite stunned the world when it won Best Picture at the 2022 Academy Awards in early February. Beating out films such as 1917, Ford v Ferrari, and other highly praised films, Parasite became a cultural sensation, introducing the world to the beauty and artistry of Korean cinema. Because of Parasite and its creator, American viewers will become more acquainted with his previous works as well as those of other imaginative Korean directors.

Korean cinema has a long and illustrious history of creating some of the world’s most imaginative, artistic, and brutally violent films. To make it easy for those interested in delving into the depths of the Korean cinema scene, we’ve produced a list of ten of the finest films to come out of the East Asian country. From stories of love and vengeance to stories of families coming together in difficult times, here is just a taste of what Korean film has to offer.

List the Top 10 Korean movies:

10. Poetry (2010)

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Top 10 Korean movies to watch

Lee Chang-Poetry, dong’s which was released in 2010, revolves around an elderly woman, Yang Mi-Ja (Yoon Jeong-hee), who has recently taken up a poetry class after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and realizing that her grandson is responsible for a brutal group sexual assault on a female student, who then commits suicide. Yang is forced to face her grandson, the victim’s mother, and the perpetrators’ parents throughout the film, all while her mental condition deteriorates.

This film, like most Korean cinema, is not for the faint of heart, as it addresses themes such as violence, corruption, losing trust in one’s family, and losing control of one’s mental awareness. Despite this, Poetry is a stunningly beautiful film that provides spectators calm, love, and tranquillity via its multiple poetry moments and as Yang attempts to make sense of her grandson’s tragedy and her disappearing memories.

9. The Wailing (2016)

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Top 10 Korean movies to watch

Na Hong-The jin’s Wailing, which was released in 2016, depicts the tale of a tiny community that has been overrun by a mystery pandemic of hatred and violence after the entrance of a suspicious stranger. As the villagers begin to mercilessly kill one another, the people’ fury and mistrust evolve into something eviler. Kwak Do-won as police investigator Jong-goo and Hwang Jung-min as Il-gwang, a shaman hired to guard the village who is called in when Hwang’s daughter, Hyo-jin (Kim Hwan-hee), falls afflicted with the same ailment, provide gripping performances in The Wailing.

What begins as a basic tale about locals fearing and condemning a stranger new to town rapidly becomes a complicated narrative about demons, witches, and other spiritual and supernatural creatures. This Korean horror film is a must-see for everyone who likes the genre.

8. Burning (2018)

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Top 10 Korean movies to watch

Lee Chang-Burning, dong’s which was released in 2018, follows what appears to be a love triangle involving aspiring novelist Lee Jong-Su (Yoo Ah-in), his childhood friend Shin Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), and Ben (played by The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun), but as the plot unfolds, we realize that this is anything but a simple romantic feature. Before Ham-mi leaves for Africa, she begs Jong-su to look after her cat, Boil, while she is gone. When Hae-mi returns, she is joined by the enigmatic and rich Ben. When Ben tells Jong-su what he loves to do in his spare time, the tone of the film shifts dramatically.

Without giving too much away, the title of the film, Burning, is shown to have several meanings during this critically acclaimed work of Korean cinema.

Also Read: Top 10 Best Scariest Psychological Horror Movies

7. Old Boy (2003)

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Top 10 Korean movies to watch

Park Chan-Old wook’s Boy (not to be confused with Spike Lee’s 2013 American adaptation) is one of the most heartbreaking films I’ve ever seen. The narrative of Oh Dae-Su (Choi Mink-ski), who has been imprisoned for the last 15 years for reasons unknown to him, is told in this action-packed, dramatic, and at times nasty film. During his confinement in a hotel room, Oh spends his time practising, preparing, and reflecting on the life choices that lead him there.

Once Oh is freed from his captivity, Old Boy goes into overdrive in his search for the person, or individuals, responsible for his kidnapping 15 years before. This adventure transports audiences to places they never believed they could or wanted to visit. Without giving anything away, the surprise after this film is one that we’re still talking about 17 years later. One thing is certain: in the classic hallway battle scene, Old Boy delivers one of the most satisfying single-take shots in movie history.

6. The Host (2006)

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Top 10 Korean movies to watch

Long before introducing the world to Parasite, Snowpiercer, and even the unjustly underappreciated Okja, Bong Joon-ho was busy with films like Memories Of Murder (more on that later) and the 2006 monster picture The Host. The Host, which touches on many of the same themes as Parasite, revolves around Park Gang-du (Parasite’s Song Kang-ho) and his family after his daughter is brutally taken and devoured by a monster that dwells in the nearby Han River.

What follows is one of the most imaginative twists on the monster movie genre in decades, earning the film’s creator worldwide acclaim and serving as a springboard for larger-scale projects later in his career.

5. The Handmaiden (2016)

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Top 10 Korean movies to watch

The Handmaiden, directed by Park Chan-wook and released in 2016, is a reimagining of Welsh author Sarah Waters’ book Fingersmith. The Handmaiden is a narrative about a young Japanese lady and her Korean handmaiden, who happens to be a part of a conspiracy to deceive her rich employer, set in 1930s colonial Korea and Japan.

Anyone who has seen Park’s other films, such as Sympathy For Mr Vengeance, Lady Vengeance, or Thirst, will have a good idea of what to anticipate before even beginning this one. Combine it with gruesome Victorian-era elements present in the source material, and you’ve got yourself a formula for a thrilling story of love, murder, and all manner of evil.

Also Read: Top 10 Chinese movies of all time

4. I Saw The Devil (2011)

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Top 10 Korean movies to watch

I Saw The Devil, Kim Jee-2011 woon’s film, tackles a basic question: How far would you go to get revenge? In this highly acclaimed criminal thriller, that question is addressed and then some. The film explores how far a grieving man will allow himself to fall down an evil path to get justice for the murder. It is centred on the reign of serial killer Jang Kyung-Chul (Oldboy’s Choi Min-Sik) and Kim Soo-Hyun (Lee Byung-hun), the man hellbent on bringing him to justice after his pregnant fiancée is brutally murdered.

By the conclusion of this cruel and tragic film, it’s difficult to determine if Soo-Hyun is right in his approach to justice, and much more difficult to distinguish between the story’s heroes and villains.

3. Memories Of Murder (2003)

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Top 10 Korean movies to watch

Bong Joon-Memories ho’s Of Murder, released in 2003, is based on the actual tale of bumbling small-town police investigators who falsify the case involving South Korea’s first known serial murderer, which occurred between 1986 and 1991. Memories Of Murder, starring Song Kang-ho as Park Doo-man, the investigator in charge of the investigation, and Kim Sang-Kyung as Seo Tae-Yoon, a detective from South Korea’s capital, Seoul, depicts the futile efforts to solve the historic serial murders and the culprit behind the atrocities.

This was just Bong’s second feature film (after Barking Dogs Never Bite in 2000), and it is a must-see for everyone who wants to see more from the Academy Award-winning director. People who dislike sad endings should be informed that this crime drama is not for the faint of heart.

2. Train To Busan (2016)

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Top 10 Korean movies to watch

With Train To Busan, Yeon Sang-ho provided worldwide viewers with one of the most engaging, dramatic, and scary zombie movies made in the last 20 years. The film, which takes place mostly aboard a bullet train bound for the city of Busan, addresses issues such as the treatment of destitute residents, how they are seen by society’s elites, and how, in some form or another, death is coming for all of us. The film also explores the actual meaning of motherhood, atonement, and finding the will to live in the face of death.

Gong Yoo as Seok-woo, a work-obsessed father attempting to bring his daughter, Su-an (Kim Su-an), to her mother’s home in Basan, and Ma Dong-Seok as Sang-Hwa, a rugged, muscle-bound guy travelling with his pregnant wife, Seong-kyeong, centre this emotionally complex zombie picture (Jun Yu-mi). Throughout the film, both men go to great lengths to safeguard the lives of their loved ones while learning what it means to be a parent. These instances of self-sacrifice for the sake of others lead to one of the most rewarding and tragic endings to a zombie film in a long time.

Also Read: Top 14 Best Tamil Comedy Movies

1. Parasite (2019)

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Top 10 Korean movies to watch

Then there’s Parasite. What is there to say about this film that hasn’t already been said? It won numerous accolades in early 2022, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards. This film is excellent.

Bong Joon-ho used themes and concepts from practically all of his previous films for Parasite, notably the close-knit kinship of the economically-depressed Kim family and how their closeness and lack of wealth contrast with the well-off but aloof Park family whom they come to serve. We won’t go into too much information regarding the film’s narrative, but we will say that you should watch it.

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