10 Great South Korean Movies
For our readers who have gotten hooked on the Korean wave, ComingSoon.net has got you covered as we count down 10 Great South Korean Movies which you can check out below! You’ll also find buy links for all the movies on the list!
Miracle in Cell No. 7
Based on a real-life story, this film centers around a mentally-changed father named Lee Yong-gu and his 7-year-old daughter Ye-sung, who only depends on each other. Then due to an unfortunate accident, their simple life gets more complicated when Yong-gu was suddenly incarcerated after being wrongfully accused for child murder. Due to Ye-sung’s determination to reunite with her father, she somehow found a way to sneak her way inside the prison where Yong-gu was being held in cell no. 7 along with other five inmates. Now, they must band together to help protect Ye-sung from being discovered as she can’t bear the idea of separating from her beloved father again.
On top of its heartwarming story, Miracle in Cell No. 7 also features a stellar cast led by Park Shin-hye, Kal So-won and the versatile Ryu Seung-ryong, who you have probably seen in Netflix’s Kingdom. With this 2013 film, I can confidently recommend that this is one of the best South Korean films I’ve ever seen to date. But fair warning, for this film you should definitely prepare a box of tissues or anything to wipe away tears just in case.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Park Chan-wook, this 2005 film is the third installment to Park’s Vengeance trilogy, preceded by Song Kang-ho’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Choi Min-sik’s Old Boy. It follows the story of a determined woman named Lee Geum-ja, who is trying to enact her revenge against the person that had caused her to abandoned her infant daughter by spending 13 years in prison for his crimes.
Although all of the films in the trilogy were all incredibly different and well-executed in their own ways, I think Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is the most underrated one despite also featuring a strong lead performance with Lee Yeong-ae’s powerful portrayal of an innocent woman suffering due to a man’s misdeeds.
The Grand Heist
Kim Joo-ho’s historical comedy film adds a new refreshing spin to the heist genre as it takes the Ocean’s Eleven concept to the Joseon era. Set during the last years of King Yeongjo’s reign when ice was more valuable that gold, the film introduces us to 11 professionals including a bookseller and an ex-royal guard, who have teamed up to use their different skills in planning a scheme that would stop corrupt officials from monopolizing the royal ice blocks.
This 2012 film is fun and highly-enjoyable which is very suitable for people of all ages. It also showcased a right balance of tension-filled action and slapstick humor which are attributed to the star-studded cast’s comedic chemistry that carried throughout the film. The Grand Heist is a great addition to your must-watch list for scheduled movie nights with friends or family.
Starring Kim Ji-won and Yoo Yeon-seok, Horror Stories begins when a high-school student gets abducted by a serial killer who can only go to sleep when he listens to scary stories. In order for her to escape, she must now do her best to narrate four blood-chilling horror stories throughout the film.
Directed by six directors, this 2012 film is a horror anthology consisting of four short films featuring psychopaths and zombies. Each story offers a different kind of terror that will definitely satisfy your horror cravings while leaving you on the edge of your seat. In addition to its intense and terrifying stories, its main premise is also enough for horror fans to get hook on the film.
The Quiet Family
This classic film features a powerhouse cast led by acclaimed veteran actors Park In-hwan and Na Moon-hee. Joining them are then rising actors Song Kang-ho and Choi Min-sik, who have both later found success in the local and international scenes for their memorable performances in Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite and Park Chan-wook’s Old Boy, respectively.
This 1998 film is a black comedy horror film which centers around the Kang family, who have decided to leave the city to set up a Mountain Lodge for hikers. However, their hopes of achieving financial breakthrough gets immediately upended when their first guest suddenly dies. From there, things just continued to go downward spiral for the extended family as they’re led to a string of comically unfortunate events which are being caused by unimaginable scenarios.
Even though The Quiet Family involves a lot of violence, Kim Jee-woon’s directorial film debut had still found a way to showcase humor-filled sequences that somehow made sense within its eccentric storyline.
My Sassy Girl
Starring Jun Ji-hyun and Cha Tae-hyun, the film begins with a normal college student named Kyun-woo as he meets a mysterious and unusual girl on a train station. After their first encounter, Kyun-woo will then continuously get dragged into awkward and comical situations involving the nameless Girl, who has kept on appearing in his life. However, despite the Girl’s push and pull treatment towards him, Kyun-woo finds himself falling deeply in love with her as he continues to do things that would make the Girl happy.
Since its release in 2001, My Sassy Girl became one of South Korea’s highest-grossing comedy film of all time and had also gained a big following across Asia including Japan and Taiwan. On top of becoming a box office success, the film was also well-received among critics who had particularly praised Jun’s leading performance which led her to becoming one of Korea’s top actresses.
A Tale of Two Sisters
Next up is another one of director Kim Jee-woon’s hit films, who is best known for his works on The Good, The Bad, The Weird and I Saw The Devil. This 1993 film one is definitely a treat for horror fans who are interested in psychological dramas and wants a further introduction into South Korean films.
Based on a popular folktale from the Joseon Dynasty era, A Tale of Two Sisters begins when a teenage girl named Su-mi has finally returned home with her father and younger sister Su-yeon to their private lakeside house after being treated in a mental institution. As soon as they arrived, Su-mi and Su-yeon have unwillingly met with their stepmother again. However, strange things are starting to happen when Su-mi gets surreal nightmares involving her late mother. Because of this, she ends up believing that their stepmother Eun-joo has dark secret that has something to do with the downfall of her family.
Starring Go Soo and Han Hyo-joo, Love 911 is a romantic drama that centers around Kang-il and Mi-soo, a distant firefighter and a selfish doctor whose lives suddenly crossed paths with each other due to a patient’s medical misdiagnosis. In order to save her rising medical career, Mi-soo tries her best to gain Kang-il’s trust and good graces because he’s apparently the only solution for her problem.
This 2012 film contains the classic rom-com formula that viewers had already grown familiar of. Despite that, it is still worth seeing due to the charming performance that Han Hyo-joo had delivered throughout the film which would really draw you to her character.
Scandal Makers begins with thirty-something radio DJ named Nam Hyeon-soo, who was previously a popular idol during his younger years. Little does he know, his bachelor life will suddenly get disrupted with the arrival of young single mother Hwang Jeong-nam along with her son, who introduces themselves as Hyeon-soo’s daughter and grandson. He has no other choice but to let them live with him in order to protect his reputation as a celebrity. However, keeping their secret proves to be a more difficult task as he finds out that his daughter has entered his radio station’s singing competition because of her dream of becoming a singer.
Starring Park Bo-young and Cha Tae-hyun, this 2008 comedy film features a fun and entertaining story about an unlikely family. Despite dealing with a serious topic concerning parenting, the film has still managed to work its way through it without completely undermining the lesson that it needs to convey. Filled with comedic moments from the leading trio, the film is a definitely a good choice for family movie nights.
Based on a popular South Korean webtoon series of the same name, the film centers around a normal high school student named Woo Ki-myung, who keeps on getting picked on by school bullies due to his cowardliness and submissive behavior. When he finally moves to the city and attends a new school, he then finds the opportunity to reinvent himself as his school’s new Fashion King. However, as he tries to reach the top, Ki-myung forms a rivalry against the wealthy and stylish Won-ho, who has been very determined to achieve the Fashion King title for himself.
This 2014 film is a coming-of-age story that is being told through the competitive lens of fashion. Admittedly, the film does have some weird moments and plot holes about its storyline which might confused viewers at first. However, despite those things, the film is still enjoyable and it also features a valuable lesson about standing up for yourself.