Top 21 Korean Movies I have Watched

Top 21 Korean Movies I have Watched

Top 21 Korean Movies I have Watched

Korean cinema has gained immense popularity globally, known for its diverse genres, compelling narratives, and exceptional filmmaking. As a fervent enthusiast of Korean movies, I’ve curated a list of the top 21 films that have left an indelible mark on me.

1. Oldboy


“Oldboy” is a neo-noir action thriller directed by Park Chan-wook, renowned for its intricate plot and stunning cinematography. It follows the story of Oh Dae-su, who seeks vengeance after being inexplicably imprisoned for 15 years.

Impact on Korean cinema

The film’s innovative storytelling and visual flair revolutionized Korean cinema, influencing subsequent filmmakers and solidifying its status as a cult classic.

2. Parasite

Plot overview

“Parasite,” directed by Bong Joon-ho, captivated audiences worldwide with its gripping tale of class disparity. The film explores the lives of two families from different socioeconomic backgrounds, intertwining dark humor with profound social commentary.

International acclaim

“Parasite” made history by winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Picture, marking a significant milestone for Korean cinema on the global stage.

3. Train to Busan

Zombie genre reinvented

“Train to Busan” reinvigorated the zombie genre with its intense action sequences and heartfelt storytelling. Set aboard a train during a zombie outbreak, the film delivers thrills while exploring themes of sacrifice and humanity.

Emotional depth

Despite its adrenaline-fueled premise, “Train to Busan” is underscored by poignant moments that resonate with audiences, making it a standout in the realm of Korean horror cinema.

4. The Handmaiden

Narrative complexity

“The Handmaiden,” directed by Park Chan-wook, mesmerizes viewers with its intricate narrative structure and exquisite visuals. Adapted from Sarah Waters’ novel “Fingersmith,” the film intricately weaves together themes of desire, deception, and liberation.

Themes of deceit and betrayal

At its core, “The Handmaiden” explores the intricacies of trust and betrayal, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats with its unexpected twists and turns.

5. Memories of Murder

Based on true events

“Memories of Murder,” directed by Bong Joon-ho, is a gripping crime drama based on the real-life Hwaseong serial murders that occurred in the 1980s. The film delves into the complexities of the investigation and the toll it takes on the detectives involved.

Critique on society

Beyond its riveting plot, “Memories of Murder” offers a scathing critique of societal injustice and the pursuit of truth in the face of systemic corruption.

6. Burning

Psychological thriller elements

“Burning,” directed by Lee Chang-dong, is a slow-burning psychological thriller that keeps viewers captivated with its enigmatic characters and simmering tension.

Ambiguous storytelling

The film’s ambiguous narrative invites interpretation, sparking discussions on themes of class struggle, obsession, and existential angst.

7. A Tale of Two Sisters

Psychological horror

“A Tale of Two Sisters,” directed by Kim Jee-woon, is a haunting tale of family secrets and psychological trauma. The film intertwines elements of horror with a poignant exploration of grief and guilt.

Family dynamics

Central to the story are the complex relationships between the two sisters and their stepmother, whose dynamics are shrouded in mystery and suspense.

8. The Wailing

Supernatural elements

“The Wailing,” directed by Na Hong-jin, blends elements of horror, mystery, and supernatural folklore to create an atmospheric and chilling cinematic experience.

Exploration of fear and paranoia

Set in a small Korean village plagued by mysterious deaths, the film delves into themes of fear, paranoia, and the darkness that lurks within human nature.

9. My Sassy Girl

Romantic comedy genre

“My Sassy Girl,” directed by Kwak Jae-yong, is a delightful romantic comedy that charmed audiences with its quirky characters and heartwarming storyline.

Iconic performances

The film’s lead actors, Jun Ji-hyun and Cha Tae-hyun, deliver unforgettable performances that have cemented their status as beloved figures in Korean cinema.

10. The Host

Genre-bending film

“The Host,” directed by Bong Joon-ho, defies categorization with its seamless blend of monster movie tropes, family drama, and social satire.

Social commentary

Beneath its creature-feature exterior, “The Host” offers sharp commentary on environmental degradation, government incompetence, and familial bonds.

11. Joint Security Area

Political thriller

“Joint Security Area,” directed by Park Chan-wook, is a gripping political thriller that explores the complexities of North-South Korean relations.

Examination of North-South relations

Set in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, the film delves into themes of friendship, loyalty, and the futility of war, transcending geopolitical boundaries.

12. The Chaser

Gripping suspense

“The Chaser,” directed by Na Hong-jin, is a relentless thriller that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with its taut pacing and nail-biting suspense.

Moral ambiguity

At its core, “The Chaser” is a morality play that challenges conventional notions of good and evil, leaving audiences questioning the nature of justice.

13. Silmido

Historical context

“Silmido,” directed by Kang Woo-suk, is a gripping military action drama inspired by real events. It recounts the story of a top-secret South Korean unit tasked with assassinating North Korean leader Kim Il-sung.

Military action drama

The film offers a visceral portrayal of the soldiers’ training and camaraderie, juxtaposed with the moral dilemmas they face in carrying out their mission.

14. I Saw the Devil

Revenge thriller

“I Saw the Devil,” directed by Kim Jee-woon, is a visceral revenge thriller that pushes the boundaries of brutality and moral ambiguity.

Exploration of vengeance

As the protagonist embarks on a relentless quest for vengeance against a sadistic serial killer, the film delves into the dark depths of human nature and the consequences of unchecked rage.

15. Miracle in Cell No. 7

Heartwarming drama

“Miracle in Cell No. 7,” directed by Lee Hwan-kyung, is a poignant drama that tugs at the heartstrings with its tale of love, sacrifice, and redemption.

Themes of love and sacrifice

The film’s touching portrayal of a mentally challenged father and his daughter resonates with audiences, emphasizing the transformative power of love and forgiveness.

16. 3-Iron

Minimalist storytelling

“3-Iron,” directed by Kim Ki-duk, is a mesmerizing tale of love and solitude conveyed through minimalist storytelling and breathtaking cinematography.

Unconventional romance

The film’s unconventional romance unfolds silently, with its protagonists communicating through actions rather than words, creating a profound and contemplative viewing experience.

17. Mother

Maternal instinct portrayed

“Mother,” directed by Bong Joon-ho, is a gripping thriller that explores the depths of maternal instinct and the lengths a mother will go to protect her child.

Dark undertones

Beneath its surface, “Mother” delves into dark themes of guilt, sacrifice, and the complexities of familial relationships, leaving a lasting impact on viewers.

18. Castaway on the Moon

Unique premise

“Castaway on the Moon,” directed by Lee Hae-jun, is a whimsical and thought-provoking film that explores themes of isolation and human connection.

Themes of isolation and connection

The film follows the journey of a man stranded on a deserted island in the middle of Seoul, highlighting the absurdity of modern life and the beauty of human resilience.

19. Poetry

Exploration of beauty and pain

“Poetry,” directed by Lee Chang-dong, is a meditative masterpiece that juxtaposes moments of beauty with the harsh realities of life and death.

Poignant storytelling

Through the lens of an elderly woman grappling with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, the film delves into the nature of art, memory, and the search for meaning in the face of mortality.

20. The Attorney

Legal drama

“The Attorney,” directed by Yang Woo-seok, is a compelling legal drama inspired by real events, highlighting the power of one man’s fight for justice against a corrupt system.

Social justice themes

Set against the backdrop of 1980s South Korea, the film tackles issues of political repression and the struggle for democracy, resonating with contemporary audiences.

21. The Man from Nowhere

Action-packed thriller

“The Man from Nowhere,” directed by Lee Jeong-beom, is a pulse-pounding action thriller that combines adrenaline-fueled set pieces with heartfelt emotion.

Emotional depth

At its core, the film explores themes of redemption and sacrifice as a reclusive pawnshop owner embarks on a perilous quest to save a young girl from a ruthless criminal syndicate.


Korean cinema continues to captivate audiences worldwide with its diverse range of films, spanning across genres and themes. The top 21 Korean movies mentioned above represent the pinnacle of cinematic excellence, showcasing the creativity, innovation, and storytelling prowess of Korean filmmakers. Whether it’s spine-tingling thrillers, heartwarming dramas, or thought-provoking social commentaries, Korean cinema offers something for every cinephile to enjoy and appreciate.


  1. Why are Korean movies gaining popularity globally? Korean movies are gaining popularity globally due to their compelling narratives, diverse genres, and exceptional filmmaking.

  2. What sets Korean cinema apart from other film industries? Korean cinema is known for its bold storytelling, innovative techniques, and willingness to tackle taboo subjects, setting it apart from other film industries.

  3. Which Korean movie has won the most international acclaim? “Parasite” holds the distinction of being the most internationally acclaimed Korean movie, winning numerous prestigious awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture.

  4. Are Korean movies only limited to specific genres? No, Korean cinema encompasses a wide range of genres, including but not limited to, thriller, drama, comedy, romance, horror, and action.

  5. How can I access these Korean movies? Many streaming platforms offer a selection of Korean movies with subtitles, making them accessible to audiences around the world.

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