30 Essential Korean films

by madmax-05947 | created - 2 months ago | updated - 3 weeks ago | Public

Not in order of quality....

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1. Oldboy (2003)

R | 120 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

77 Metascore

After being kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in five days.

Director: Chan-wook Park | Stars: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang, Dae-han Ji

Votes: 465,267 | Gross: $0.71M

2. The Wailing (2016)

Not Rated | 156 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

81 Metascore

Soon after a stranger arrives in a little village, a mysterious sickness starts spreading. A policeman, drawn into the incident, is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter.

Director: Hong-jin Na | Stars: Jun Kunimura, Jung-min Hwang, Do-won Kwak, Woo-hee Chun

Votes: 36,853

3. Memories of Murder (2003)

Not Rated | 132 min | Action, Crime, Drama

82 Metascore

In a small Korean province in 1986, three detectives struggle with the case of multiple young women being found raped and murdered by an unknown culprit.

Director: Joon Ho Bong | Stars: Kang-ho Song, Sang-kyung Kim, Roe-ha Kim, Jae-ho Song

Votes: 103,781 | Gross: $0.01M

4. A Bittersweet Life (2005)

Not Rated | 120 min | Action, Drama

Things go wrong for a high ranking mobster when he doesn't proceed by his boss's orders.

Director: Jee-woon Kim | Stars: Byung-Hun Lee, Min-a Shin, Yeong-cheol Kim, Jung-min Hwang

Votes: 32,220

5. The Handmaiden (2016)

Not Rated | 145 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller

84 Metascore

A woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a plot to defraud her.

Director: Chan-wook Park | Stars: Min-hee Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Jinwoong Cho, So-Ri Moon

Votes: 82,396 | Gross: $2.01M

6. The Chaser (2008)

Not Rated | 125 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

64 Metascore

A disgraced ex-policeman who runs a small ring of prostitutes finds himself in a race against time when one of his women goes missing.

Director: Hong-jin Na | Stars: Yoon-seok Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Yeong-hie Seo, Yoo-Jeong Kim

Votes: 50,425

7. Asura: The City of Madness (2016)

Not Rated | 136 min | Action, Crime

64 Metascore

A shady cop finds himself in over his head when he gets caught between Internal Affairs and the city's corrupt mayor.

Director: Sung-su Kim | Stars: Woo-sung Jung, Jung-min Hwang, Ji-Hoon Ju, Do-won Kwak

Votes: 1,861 | Gross: $0.17M

8. The Man from Nowhere (2010)

R | 119 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

A quiet pawnshop keeper with a violent past takes on a drug-and-organ trafficking ring in hope of saving the child who is his only friend.

Director: Jeong-beom Lee | Stars: Won Bin, Sae-ron Kim, Tae-hoon Kim, Hee-won Kim

Votes: 55,999 | Gross: $0.01M

9. I Saw the Devil (2010)

Not Rated | 142 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

67 Metascore

A secret agent exacts revenge on a serial killer through a series of captures and releases.

Director: Jee-woon Kim | Stars: Byung-Hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, Joon-Hyuk Lee, Kap-su Kim

Votes: 95,519 | Gross: $0.13M

10. Burning (2018)

Not Rated | 148 min | Drama, Mystery

90 Metascore

Jong-su bumps into a girl who used to live in the same neighborhood as him, who asks him to look after her cat while on a trip to Africa. When back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met there, who confesses his secret hobby.

Director: Chang-dong Lee | Stars: Ah-in Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jun, Soo-Kyung Kim

Votes: 26,523 | Gross: $0.72M

11. Joint Security Area (2000)

Not Rated | 110 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

58 Metascore

In the DMZ separating North and South Korea, two North Korean soldiers have been killed, supposedly by one South Korean soldier. But the 11 bullets found in the bodies, together with the 5 ... See full summary »

Director: Chan-wook Park | Stars: Yeong-ae Lee, Byung-Hun Lee, Kang-ho Song, Tae-woo Kim

Votes: 23,753

12. Mother (2009)

R | 129 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

79 Metascore

A mother desperately searches for the killer who framed her son for a girl's horrific murder.

Director: Joon Ho Bong | Stars: Hye-ja Kim, Won Bin, Goo Jin, Je-mun Yun

Votes: 38,449 | Gross: $0.55M

13. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

R | 115 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

65 Metascore

A family is haunted by the tragedies of deaths within the family.

Director: Jee-woon Kim | Stars: Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum, Soo-jung Lim, Geun-young Moon

Votes: 51,288

14. The Host (2006)

R | 120 min | Action, Drama, Horror

85 Metascore

A monster emerges from Seoul's Han River and begins attacking people. One victim's loving family does what it can to rescue her from its clutches.

Director: Joon Ho Bong | Stars: Kang-ho Song, Hee-Bong Byun, Hae-il Park, Doona Bae

Votes: 86,474 | Gross: $2.20M

15. Thirst (2009)

R | 135 min | Drama, Horror, Romance

73 Metascore

Through a failed medical experiment, a priest is stricken with vampirism and is forced to abandon his ascetic ways.

Director: Chan-wook Park | Stars: Kang-ho Song, Ok-bin Kim, Hee-jin Choi, Dong-soo Seo

Votes: 38,356 | Gross: $0.30M

16. Train to Busan (2016)

Not Rated | 118 min | Action, Horror, Thriller

72 Metascore

While a zombie virus breaks out in South Korea, passengers struggle to survive on the train from Seoul to Busan.

Director: Sang-ho Yeon | Stars: Yoo Gong, Yu-mi Jung, Dong-seok Ma, Su-an Kim

Votes: 113,193 | Gross: $2.13M

17. A Taxi Driver (2017)

Not Rated | 137 min | Action, Drama, History

69 Metascore

A widowed father and taxi driver who drives a German reporter from Seoul to Gwangju to cover the 1980 uprising, soon finds himself regretting his decision after being caught in the violence around him.

Director: Hun Jang | Stars: Kang-ho Song, Thomas Kretschmann, Hae-jin Yoo, Jun-yeol Ryu

Votes: 9,845 | Gross: $1.53M

18. Parasite (2019)

132 min | Comedy, Drama, Thriller

89 Metascore

All unemployed, Ki-taek's family takes peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks for their livelihood until they get entangled in an unexpected incident.

Director: Joon Ho Bong | Stars: Kang-ho Song, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-jeong Jo, Woo-sik Choi

Votes: 19,245

19. The Yellow Sea (2010)

R | 136 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

70 Metascore

The attempt to carry out a hit on a professor goes terribly awry, triggering a series of violent events which force a taxi driver to run for his life.

Director: Hong-jin Na | Stars: Jung-woo Ha, Yoon-seok Kim, Sung-ha Jo, Seok-jeong Hwang

Votes: 16,503

20. Lady Vengeance (2005)

R | 115 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

75 Metascore

After being wrongfully imprisoned for thirteen years and having her child taken away from her, a woman seeks revenge through increasingly brutal means.

Director: Chan-wook Park | Stars: Yeong-ae Lee, Min-sik Choi, Shi-hoo Kim, Yea-young Kwon

Votes: 65,194 | Gross: $0.21M

21. Ode to My Father (2014)

Not Rated | 126 min | Drama, War

Amid the time of Korean War, a young boy's vow to take care of his family marked the beginning of a lifelong promise spanning 60 years.

Director: JK Youn | Stars: Jung-min Hwang, Yunjin Kim, Dal-su Oh, Jin-young Jung

Votes: 3,277 | Gross: $2.30M

22. The Good the Bad the Weird (2008)

R | 130 min | Action, Adventure, Western

69 Metascore

The story of two outlaws and a bounty hunter in 1940s Manchuria and their rivalry to possess a treasure map while being pursued by the Japanese army and Chinese bandits.

Director: Jee-woon Kim | Stars: Kang-ho Song, Byung-Hun Lee, Woo-sung Jung, Je-mun Yun

Votes: 31,003 | Gross: $0.13M

23. A Dirty Carnival (2006)

Not Rated | 141 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A small time thug collecting debts for the local triad is torn between his criminal aspirations and his devotion to family.

Director: Ha Yoo | Stars: In-sung Jo, Ho-jin Chun, Min Namkoong, Bo-young Lee

Votes: 7,199

24. Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000)

Not Rated | 110 min | Comedy

66 Metascore

An idle part-time college lecturer is annoyed by the yapping sound of a nearby dog. He decides to take drastic action.

Director: Joon Ho Bong | Stars: Doona Bae, Sung-Jae Lee, Hee-Bong Byun, Su-hee Go

Votes: 4,000

25. Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time (2012)

Not Rated | 134 min | Action, Crime, Drama

On the verge of being fired, a corrupt customs official finds a haul of drugs and teams up with a vicious gangster to become the most powerful crime partnership in Busan.

Director: Jong-bin Yoon | Stars: Min-sik Choi, Jung-woo Ha, Jinwoong Cho, Dong-seok Ma

Votes: 4,869

26. The City of Violence (2006)

92 min | Action

Tae-su, a detective fighting organized crime, returns to his hometown for his high school friend Wang-jae's funeral. At the funeral, he meets his old friends Pil-ho, Dong-hwan and Seok-hwan... See full summary »

Director: Seung-wan Ryoo | Stars: Jae-mo Ahn, Kil-kang Ahn, Dong-Hyeon Baek, Richard Epcar

Votes: 4,020

27. Veteran (2015)

Not Rated | 123 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

A detective hunts down a young and successful man.

Director: Seung-wan Ryoo | Stars: Jung-min Hwang, Ah-in Yoo, Hae-jin Yoo, Dal-su Oh

Votes: 4,195 | Gross: $1.20M

28. Assassination (2015)

Not Rated | 140 min | Action, Drama

64 Metascore

While Korea is occupied by the Japanese Army in 1933, the resistance plans to kill the Japanese Commander. But their plan is threatened by a traitor within their group and also the enemies' forces are hunting them down.

Director: Dong-hoon Choi | Stars: Ji-hyun Jun, Jung-jae Lee, Jung-woo Ha, Dal-su Oh

Votes: 5,041 | Gross: $1.90M

29. The Quiet Family (1998)

101 min | Comedy, Crime, Horror

A family opens a mountain inn where their first guest commits suicide. Suddenly all their guests befall horrible fates.

Director: Jee-woon Kim | Stars: In-hwan Park, Moon-hee Na, Kang-ho Song, Min-sik Choi

Votes: 3,729

30. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003)

R | 103 min | Drama, Romance

85 Metascore

A boy is raised by a Buddhist monk on an isolated floating temple where the years pass like the seasons.

Director: Ki-duk Kim | Stars: Ki-duk Kim, Yeong-su Oh, Jong-ho Kim, Young-min Kim

Votes: 71,810 | Gross: $2.38M



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