Recently Korean movies have been buzzing all around the world among movie lovers. Viewers often search best Korean movies of all time on Google to watch on Netflix, Amazon Prime and other OTT platforms but get disappointed when they don’t find one.
Korean entertainment industry recently added millions of fans because of its wide range of content be it web series or movies. Last year Korean web series named Squid game was released on Netflix and within no time it became the most-watched web series in the history of Netflix. Recently Korean Movie Parasite also won the Oscar for best movie and people just loved it.
Korean movies have a wide range of stories with different taste – be it horror, thriller, or action movie. If we talk about the best zombie movie or web series ever made then Korean also tops the list. Korean industry has given the best zombie movie named Train to Busan and the best Zombie web series named Kingdom.
Pick any genre you like and find Korean movies on the internet and you won’t be disappointed. To make it easier for you, we have compiled a list of the best Korean movies of all time. This list consists of movie genres like Action, Thriller, Horror, Romantic and even Zombie movies.
Highest Grossing Korean Movies of All Time
Before listing the best korean movies of all time here we have compiled the list of Top 20 highest grossing korean movies of all time.
|1||The Admiral: Roaring Currents||17615686||2014|
|3||Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds||14414658||2017|
|4||Ode to My Father||14264059||2014|
|7||Miracle in Cell No. 7||12812144||2013|
|11||King and the Clown||12302831||2005|
|12||Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days||12278010||2018|
|13||A Taxi Driver||12189698||2017|
|15||Train to Busan||11567662||2016|
|17||Haeundae (Tidal Wave)||11324958||2009|
15 Best Korean Movies of All Time
#1 Parasite (2019)
Director – Bong Joon-Ho | IMDB – 8.5 | Amazon Prime
Parasite is one of the best Korean thriller movie released in 2019 and directed by Bong Joon-Ho. Bong Joon-Ho has given some brilliant movies in the past and that’s the first reason to watch his movies. Bong Joon-Ho’s previous work includes Memories of Murder, Snowpiercer and Okja. At the moment, Bong Joon-Ho is one of the best Korean directors and everyone is eagerly waiting for his next movie.
Parasite also won the Oscar award for best movie in 2019. It was the highest-grossing movie in several countries and the world audience appreciated this thriller movie. In Parasite movie one poor family tries to get employment in a wealthy family by fraud and infiltrates the house by posing as a highly qualified individual who can do every work including cooking, driving and teaching.
The movie displays a brilliant portrayal of Seoul city including rich and poor neighborhoods. For that alone, the director gets the entire shout-out. This movie will hook you to the end and has a brilliant climax that none expected.
#2 Train to Busan (2016)
Director – Yeon Sang-Ho | IMDB – 7.6 | Amazon Prime
Train to Busan movie taught the world how one zombie horror movie should be made. Train to Busan is so far one of the best zombie action horror films in the world. This movie was directed by Yeon Sang-Ho, and starring an incredible cast including Gong Yoo and the superstar of Korean cinema Ma Dong-Seok.
Train to Busan movie takes place on a high-speed train from Seoul to Busan. During the journey, suddenly Zombie Apocalypse breaks out in the country and they infiltrate the train and threatens the safety of the passengers.
Train to Busan was the first Korean film to get a 10 million theatergoers audience and it’s a huge number. This movie received an immense response across the world and also premiered at 2016 Cannes film festival. If you love to watch some series of zombie movies then do watch Train to Busan.
#3 The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil (2013)
Director – Lee Won-Tae | IMDB – 6.9
The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil is one of the best action thriller movies directed by Lee Won-tae. Ma Dong-Seok is evolved immensely due to his acting skills and popularity in South Korea. Ma Dong-Seok is a superstar of south Korea and now around the world. Fans love to watch his movies on the big screen and in this movie he delivered one of the best performances of his career.
The story of this movie revolves around three characters in which one is a serial killer, the second is the gangster who was almost a victim of a serial killer and the third one was the cop who wants to arrest this killer. The Cop and the gangster then decided to work together to catch the killer but had various challenges which made this movie super action and thriller.
#4 Memories of Murder (2003)
Director – Bong Joon-Ho | IMDB – 8.1 | Amazon Prime
If you have watched Parasite movie and loved it then do watch another movie of Bong Joon Ho and that’s Memories of Murder. Earlier due to the internet Korean Cinema was restricted to Korea itself, but now due to many OTT platforms these old Korean cinemas are gaining popularity all around the world. Memories of Murder is one of the best Korean Thriller movies and highest rated on IMDB.
The story of this movie revolves around 2 detective who investigates a series of murders happening in South Korea. The movie was based on the true story of Korea’s first confirmed serial murders which happened between 1986 and 1991 in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. This film received overall 30 awards and nominations and is still considered as one of the best south Korean movies ever made in history.
#5 The Man from Nowhere (2010)
Director – Lee Jeong Beom | IMDB – 7.7 | Amazon Prime
The Man from Nowhere was the highest grossing Korean film of 2010 directed by Lee Jeong Beom. The movie is all about a former army intelligence spy who is forced to give up his privacy to save the life of a little girl. Cha Tae Silk runs a little pawn shop in a sketchy neighborhood and befriends one young girl So Mi. So Mi regularly spends time in this pawn shop whereas her mother entertains some men.
So Mi’s mother steals some heroine from the crime organization and goons come to look after her and abduct both mother and daughter. Tae Sik had to take a matter into his own hands to get the daughter and the gangsters soon found that they had messed with the wrong guy. This movie is full of action scenes which viewers love it.
#6 Oldboy (2003)
Director – Park Chan-Wook | IMDB – 8.4 | Amazon Prime
Oldboy is an action thriller movie released in 2003 and directed by Park Chan-Wook. This movie was the adoption of Japanese Manga of the same name. Oldboy movie story revolves around Oh Dae-su who was imprisoned in one cell for 15 years which looks like a hotel room. The character of the film doesn’t know the identity of the captor and wants to know the motives behind it.
One day he was finally released and was on a mission to find the person who captivated him for a long time. After the release Oh Dae-su finds himself trapped in the conspiracy and the violence. This movie has so much suspense till the end and some scenes have graphic violence too so, watch it at your own risk.
#7 I saw the Devil (2010)
Director – Kim-Jee Woon | IMDB – 7.8
I Saw the Devil is an action thriller Korean movie released in 2010 and directed by Kim-Jee woon. This movie is about one NIS agent Kim Soo-hyun (Lee) who was on revenge for his fiancee’s murder done by psychopathic killer Choi.
I saw the Devil movie was also premiered in the US at the 2011 Sundance film festival and the audience appreciated the movie. This movie has some serious scenes so, avoid watching this thriller movie with kids. If you really love to watch best Korean thriller movies then do watch I saw the Devil movie.
#8 The Outlaws (2017)
Director – Kang Yoon-Sung | IMDB – 7.2 | Amazon Prime
The Outlaws is the best crime thriller Korean movie released in 2017, written and directed by Kang Yoon-Sung. This movie has a fabulous star cast, but the centre of attraction was Ma Dong-seok, the most loved Korean actor worldwide.
Ma Dong-seok plays the role of a detective who is trying to control the gang wars between Chinese and Korean gangs. Ma Dong-seok is simultaneously also dealing with Jang-Chen, who is a ruthless loan shark in Korea.
The Outlaws movie is the first part of the Crime City Series and the second part of this series was The Roundup released in 2022.
#9 The Roundup (2022)
Director – Lee Sang-Yong | IMDB – 7.1 | Amazon Prime
The Roundup is the second part of the crime city series directed by Lee Sang-yong. This movie is also starring Ma Dong-seok, Son Seok-koo and Choi Gwi-hwa.
In this movie, detective Ma Dong-seok travels to Vietnam to extradite one suspect. During his visit to Vietnam, he comes across brutal murders of Korean tourists done by one vicious killer named Kang Hae-sung. Most of the movie was shot in Vietnam, and you will be amazed to see the fight-and-chase sequence of this movie.
The Roundup movie opened at number 1 at the South Korean box office. The Roundup movie became the first movie in south Korea to register 10 million+ admissions in 2022 on the 25th Day, which is simply incredible. The Roundup is currently the 9th highest-grossing movie in south Korea.
#10 The Thieves (2012)
Director – Choi Dong-Hoon | IMDB – 6.8
If you are a fan of Korean Heist movies, then do watch The Thieves movie, which was released in 2012. Choi Dong-hoon directed the Thieves movie with an incredible cast. In this movie, every character has some talent to crack the heist.
Popie is the main brain and muscle behind the group where as Pepsee is an expert in safe cracker. Apart from those Yenicall is the wall climber, Zampano is the strategy head and Chewing Gum is the master of disguise. The entire group decided to rob a 20 million dollar diamond, and the story revolves around it.
The Thieves is currently the 6th highest grossing Korean movie of all time and which alone is the reason to watch the movie.
#11 The Wailing (2016)
“The Wailing” is a 2016 South Korean horror-thriller movie directed by Na Hong-jin. The movie is set in a small village in South Korea where a mysterious illness starts to spread among the villagers, causing hallucinations and violence.
The story revolves around a local police officer named Jong-goo, who is tasked with investigating the outbreak. As he delves deeper into the case, he starts to suspect that the outbreak may be connected to a strange, reclusive Japanese man who has recently moved into the area.
The movie is a masterful blend of horror, thriller, and supernatural elements, with a talented cast and a suspenseful and terrifying viewing experience that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.
#12 A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
“A Tale of Two Sisters” is a 2003 South Korean psychological horror film directed by Kim Jee-woon. The movie tells the story of two sisters, Su-mi and Su-yeon, who return to their family home after a stay in a mental institution, only to find themselves plagued by strange and terrifying events.
The film is based on a traditional Korean folktale and explores themes of family, guilt, and grief through a non-linear narrative and dream sequences. The performances of the cast, particularly Im Soo-jung and Moon Geun-young as the sisters, are outstanding, adding to the eerie and unsettling atmosphere of the movie.
The movie’s use of imagery and score also add to the eerie atmosphere of the movie. “A Tale of Two Sisters” is a horror movie that not only scares, but also reflects on the human psyche and the way we deal with trauma and the past, making it a must-watch for fans of the genre and anyone looking for a unique and thought-provoking viewing experience.
#13 The Host (2006)
“The Host” is a 2006 South Korean monster movie directed by Bong Joon-ho. The movie tells the story of a family living in Seoul, who must come together to rescue their young daughter, Hyun-seo, after she is taken by a mutant creature that emerges from the Han River.
The movie combines elements of horror, comedy, and drama to tell a story that is both thrilling and emotionally resonant. The movie also deals with themes like the government’s mishandling of the situation, the consequences of pollution, and the importance of family. The performances of the cast, particularly Song Kang-ho as the father, are outstanding and add to the emotional depth of the movie.
The movie’s use of special effects and the creature design is also noteworthy, making the monster both terrifying and relatable. “The Host” is a monster movie that not only entertains but also reflects on important social and political issues, making it a must-watch for fans of the genre and anyone looking for a unique and thought-provoking viewing experience.
#14 The Chaser (2008)
“The Chaser” is a 2008 South Korean crime-thriller directed by Na Hong-jin. The movie tells the story of a pimp named Joong-ho who is desperately searching for his missing sex workers. The movie takes a dark and intense turn as the story unfolds and Joong-ho discovers that the disappearances are connected to a serial killer.
The movie is a gripping thriller that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats as Joong-ho races against time to find the missing women and bring the killer to justice. The performances of the cast, particularly Kim Yun-seok as Joong-ho, are outstanding and add to the intensity of the story. The movie’s use of tension-building techniques, such as the score and the cinematography, also add to the overall suspenseful atmosphere of the movie.
“The Chaser” is a crime-thriller that not only entertains but also reflects on the darker side of human nature and the consequences of greed and corruption, making it a must-watch for fans of the genre and anyone looking for a unique and thought-provoking viewing experience.
#15 The Handmaiden (2016)
“The Handmaiden” is a 2016 South Korean erotic psychological thriller directed by Park Chan-wook. The movie tells the story of a young woman named Sook-Hee, who is hired as a handmaiden to a wealthy heiress, Hideko, and becomes embroiled in a scheme to defraud her.
The story takes unexpected turns as the two women develop a complicated and erotic relationship and secrets are revealed. The movie is a multi-layered and highly stylized film that explores themes of desire, identity, and class through its intricate and interconnected plot. The performances of the cast, particularly Kim Tae-ri as Sook-Hee and Kim Min-hee as Hideko, are outstanding, adding to the emotional depth of the movie.
The movie’s use of imagery, score and its intricate and interconnected plot also adds to the overall atmosphere of the movie. “The Handmaiden” is a erotically charged psychological thriller that not only entertains but also reflects on power dynamics, social class, and the complexities of human desire, making it a must-watch for fans of the genre and anyone looking for a unique and thought-provoking viewing experience.