15 Best Korean Movies You Can’t Stop Watching

In recent years, Korea’s best films have made a big splash at the world’s most important film festivals. And although the mass audience still treats them with distrust, connoisseurs will confirm that the directors of this eastern country easily plug modern Hollywood into the belt.

Today we’ll talk about the best Korean movies that you should definitely watch in 2021. The top contains both interesting novelties and recognized masterpieces with a high rating, which will impress even the most discerning moviegoer.


  • Film Search: 6.6
  • IMDB: 6.9

The first swallow of the Korean new wave – the action movie “Shiri”, revealed to the world the fact that local filmmakers can be interesting not only for their originality, but also, no less cool than their Hollywood colleagues, in realizing completely mainstream genres.

The plot of the plot around the confrontation between North and South Korea is replete with cliches in attempts to show the hostility of the neighbor, but the action unfolds so rapidly that the viewer soon completely pays no attention to it, watching the spectacular confrontation between two special agents and a professional sniper. The blockbuster is not devoid of semantic load, and although it was released at the end of the last century, even now it looks with great interest.

Train to Busan

  • Film Search: 7.1
  • IMDB: 7.6

The Train to Busan was the answer to the Hollywood zombie horror assembly line. The film tells the story of a father and daughter who are on the train to see their mother, while a zombie apocalypse suddenly begins around. It does not offer anything new, but it intelligently combines proven genre techniques and moves into something unique in Korean. The strong play of little-known (for the domestic audience) actors and a really strong plot wins over. The heroes are well written, you trust and empathize with everyone.

There is no place for the usual screamers and other boring tricks from American horror films, but the amazing camera work and editing create such dynamics that the atmosphere of tension literally envelops the viewer and charges with adrenaline. A cool zombie movie is a rare beast in our time, so we strongly recommend it to fans of the genre.

A man from nowhere

  • Film Search: 7.7
  • IMDB: 7.8

Many people call “Man from Nowhere” one of the best action games of the 2000s and the Asian version of “Leon”. But if we agree with the first statement, then the film does not have much in common with Besson’s classics. This is the story of the protagonist, who is trying to save a neighbor’s girl from the hands of bandits. The story of the girl herself who is trying to survive. And the story of police officers investigating a convoluted murder and drug case. All three branches are combined into a tangled tangle, from which it is impossible to break away until the last frame.

And if Hollywood films usually serve characters head-on, Koreans love to play with paradoxicality – here is a boring pawnshop owner, here is his unremarkable neighbor who works part-time in a bar – what can happen? But event X happens, followed by two hours of furious action, during which the portraits of the heroes are revealed in thin strokes.

Taxi driver

  • Film Search: 8.2
  • IMDB: 7.9

The ranking of the best Korean films continues with a historical drama based on real events. A military coup in 1979 led to bloody consequences: the shooting of a student demonstration in the city of Gwangju and an uprising of local residents. To pacify the dissatisfied people, the new president introduces into the town a national guard, hastily assembled from militant athletes. For the rest of the world, the situation is shrouded in darkness, but a German reporter who happened to be in Korea intends to break into the cordoned off city and film the chaos on camera. A simple taxi driver will help him in this, who did not even suspect in the morning what mission would fall on his head.

This is a very strong dramatic story that will appeal to everyone who loves good and correct cinema. In addition, one cannot fail to note the work of the decorators – the life of South Korea forty years ago has been recreated here with all love and care, there is no such monument of the era anymore.


  • Film Search: 6.8
  • IMDB: 7.5

Another horror story – in a forest village, people suddenly become covered with mysterious ulcers, and their behavior becomes extremely aggressive towards others. The reason is not clear – they talk about poisonous mushrooms, the mysterious Japanese and other mysticism. The local precinct does not care about the situation, but suddenly the trouble concerns his daughter …

Director Na Hong-jin has created a small universe of fear and madness that captivates with its originality and fresh look at familiar genre clichés. There are no heroes looking fear in the eyes with a smile – horror enveloped a small settlement and salvation is not visible on the horizon. What is happening on the screen sometimes seems absurd, but closer to the end of the story, the shots acquire an amazing integrity.

No. 10 – 38th parallel

  • Film Search: 7.9
  • IMDB: 8.0

The history of the Korean War is an extremely controversial topic that each participant in the conflict presents in his own way. All the more valuable is this tape, which demonstrates not the triumphant marching army of South Korea, but poorly armed youths called upon to play the role of cannon fodder in a bloody conflict. A lot of anti-militarist films have been filmed in the West, but they still broadcast classic slogans on the theme “we don’t abandon our own people” and “our cause is just”, but here all 140 minutes of timekeeping does not leave the feeling that war is an extremely meaningless business.

If there is a hell on Earth, then it is definitely located where the representatives of a single nation yesterday frenziedly exterminate each other. Kang Jae-gyu, who managed to get his hands on in the demonstration of bloody action in “Shiri”, got a large budget by Korean standards and used it to its fullest – blockbusters about the war from Hollywood look extremely dim against the background of this masterpiece.

Empty house

  • Film Search: 7.8
  • IMDB: 8.0

The sensational “Parasites” were not born out of nowhere. Back in 2004, Kim Ki Duk blew up the Venice Festival and took away four Golden Lions from there, telling the story of a young man wandering through empty apartments. In another luxurious dwelling, he will find a lonely silent girl suffering from her husband’s beatings. She will run away with him to feel alive again.

The plot is a rethinking of the story of a handsome prince, princess and dragon. The meditative narrative is discharged with outbursts of absurdity and cruelty, but when the credits begin, the pleasant aftertaste does not leave for a long time. The quirks of the little man are one of the central themes of Korean cinema, and maestro Kim Ki Duk shows them like no other. This is a movie about love and life in all its diversity, with beautiful actors and a very aesthetic picture.

Joint security zone

  • Film Search: 7.9
  • IMDB: 7.8

An exciting military detective story on a topic that is painful for every Korean. The Joint Security Zone is a neutral territory between North and South Korea, a place of constant tension and the only point where people on both sides of the barricades can see with their own eyes that the opposite is not a monstrous enemy depicted by a propaganda machine, but a person like you.

The plot revolves around a mysterious incident in which a representative of the DPRK is killed and a soldier from the south is wounded. An independent investigation team led by Sophie, an ethnic Korean, is dispatched to investigate the incident. The story is developing dynamically, showing touching human relationships against the backdrop of large-scale events. All this gives food for the mind: how did one people with a common language and culture suddenly split up and decided to confront each other to the death? The soundtrack deserves special praise – even Russian folk songs are heard here.


  • Film Search: 6.9
  • IMDB: 7.5

The list of the best Korean films could not do without this masterpiece adaptation of the short story of the same name by Haruki Murakami. In the film, literally nothing happens, but each frame is so full of metaphors and allusions, a complex system of symbols and oriental philosophy that fans have been arguing about the meaning of this or that frame for several years after the release.

“The Burning One” tells the story of a young writer, Jeongsu, who looks after the deserted farm of his imprisoned father. The guy falls in love with a girl from his village, who goes on a trip to Africa, and meets Ben, a rich man who leads a luxurious lifestyle. The trio get closer and spend time together until it turns out that Ben has quite a few skeletons in the closet. Two and a half hours of viewing will certainly give way to days and weeks of thinking about the depths of this picture.

I saw the devil

  • Film Search: 7.6
  • IMDB: 7.8

If in the West, after a monstrous crime, justice and justice should prevail, then in South Korean culture, Her Majesty’s revenge rules the ball. Have your daughter and bride killed and dismembered? Have you found the culprit? Do not rush to report this to the authorities, the criminal does not deserve quiet aging in the cell.

The inventively filmed thriller, replete with violent scenes, is intended not to impose morality on the viewer, but to demonstrate the infinite depth of human character and personality – no one knows what he is capable of under extreme circumstances: whether he is ready to remain a part of society or will he only be happy to throw off the shackles of civilization and give will to primal instincts.

The Maid

  • Film Search: 7.6
  • IMDB: 8.1

The best films in Korean cinema are often born when talented authors tackle historical material – as happened with The Handmaid. The thirties of the twentieth century – a time when the Korean peninsula was ruled by Japan, and the local people eked out a poor existence. But they did not lose their wit. A fraudster named Count marries a wealthy Japanese lady, Hideko, in order to declare her insane and put her in a madhouse with the help of a maid named Suk-hee. However, the plans of the heroes will be violated – the wrong character, who was destined for the fateful fate, will get into the insane asylum.

The story is presented in three parts: from the perspective of the servant, the count, and Lady Hideko. The picture, complex both in dramatic and visual structure, pleases with dashing plot twists and a chicly recreated era. Everything from costumes to interiors is mesmerizing with Japanese-Korean aesthetics from the first shot, and a considerable two and a half hour chrome length flies by in an instant. “The Maid” is replete with erotic moments, so watch strictly 18+.

Spring, summer, autumn, winter … and spring again

  • Film Search: 7.9
  • IMDB: 8.0

A subtle, graceful and measured film from one of the most famous South Korean directors, Kim Ki-dook. The master tries to convey the essence of Buddhism to the Western audience through symbols and visual components. It shows the story of two people – a monk and his disciple, setting a difficult framework for himself – the heroes are devoid of names, and some of the characters have no faces at all. The film has a minimum of dialogues, the author concentrates the viewer’s attention on the most important, discarding unnecessary husk

“Spring, summer, autumn, winter … and spring again” is about the hard work of nurturing a person within ourselves, which no one but ourselves can do. It is incredibly beautiful and truly endless in its depths, if you are looking for Korean films that are worth watching – start here.

Memories of a Murder

  • Film Search: 7.8
  • IMDB: 8.1

A must-see for fans of strong thrillers. The film is based on real events taking place in Korea in 1986-1991. In the small town of Hwaseong, there is a serial killer who rapes and kills women, leaving them tied up in their own underwear. A couple of simple-minded cops take on the case, but since they do not know how to solve such problems, they knock out the testimony from the first person they meet. The case comes to a standstill, and a daring young detective from Seoul comes to their aid.

A dashing plot with a detailed analysis of the imperfections of the law enforcement system and the peculiarities of the local mentality knocks the ground out of underfoot with an unexpected ending. Even cult Western thrillers with a similar canvas like “Seven” seem rather faded against the background of “Memories”.


  • Film Search: 8.0
  • IMDB: 8.6

The main film of last year, hurricane swept through all the main film festivals of the planet. Bong Joon-ho is a central figure in modern Korean cinema, and his strength lies not even in his unsurpassed directorial skills, but rather in the talent of the screenwriter. When watching parasites, the viewer constantly doubts what he is watching – a comedy, a thriller, or even an original trash.

The film shows the story of two Korean families: a poor one who doesn’t want to strain but wants to live well, and a rich one who has achieved everything one can dream of. They intersect and a real cycle of events begins, the content of which is difficult to convey without spoilers. This is an unusual and very interesting piece. It was after Parasite that high-rated Korean films caught the attention of moviegoers from all over the world.


  • Film Search: 8.1
  • IMDB: 8.4

The story of an ordinary businessman O Dae-su, who, returning home, took a sip of too much, and then found himself in a locked room without windows, where he spent 15 years of his life. Endless scenes of violence and intrigue pursue a special hero on the way to the goal – understanding the reasons for what happened.

“Oldboy” has long become a classic and began to be perceived as part of the heritage of world cinema. Today directors and screenwriters, describing the idea of ​​a tough detective, say without a second thought: “Something like Oldboy.” Objectively the best Korean cinema, viewing of which is a must for anyone who considers himself versed in this art form.

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