25 Best Korean Movies Of All Time (2021 Updated)

by Jih Yun

Are you looking for the best Korean movies of all time? Well, check out this list of top K-movies that will hold you back till the very end because of it’s interesting stories. Read further to know more about it. 

Is it another Saturday night and you’re looking for movie recommendations but can’t decide on it because you’re confused if they’re gonna turn out interesting or not? If that’s you then I’ve got you covered here. 

These Korean movies are classic and all time favorites of mine as well as the public. If you’re a true movie buff, you’ll understand that this collection is gold and would love to watch all of it. All you need to do is grab your popcorn and sit back to enjoy these movies. 

So, let’s check out some of the best Korean movies of all time below for you to enjoy!

Best Korean movies of all timeGenreStarring
Old BoyDrama, SuspenseChoi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jeong
Memories of MurderDrama, SuspenseKang-ho Song, Hee-Bong Byun, Roe-ha Kim
MotherCrime thriller, SuspenseKim Hye-ja
The HandmaidenLGBTQ, Mystery, RomanceKIM MIN-hee, HA JUNG-woo, CHO JIN-woong
ParasiteComedy, Drama, Mystery & ThrillerKang Ho Song, Sun Kyun Lee, Yeo Jeong Cho
The WailingHorrorChun Woo-Hee, Kwak Do-won
The ChaserActionKim Yoon-seok, Ha Jung-woo, Yeong-hie Seo, Kim Yoo-Jeong
ThirstHorror, Romance, DramaKang-ho Song, Ok-vin Kim, Hae-sook Kim
The Host Serious, Gory, MelodramaticKang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon, Hae-il Park
AlwaysRomantic, Emotional Han Hyo-joo, So Ji-sub
I Saw The Devil Horror, SuspenseChoi Min-sik, Lee Byung-hun
71: Into The FireWar, Non-fictionCha Seung-won, Kim Seung-woo
BedevilledThriller, HorrorSeo Young-hee, Ji Sung-won, Park Jeong-hak
Train To BusanSuspense, Horror, ActionGong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, Don Lee
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and SpringDrama, RomanceJae-kyeong Seo, Jong-ho Kim, Yeong-su Oh
Take Care of My CatComedy, DramaDoona Bae, Yo-won Lee
New WorldSuspense, International, ActionLee Jeong-jae, Hwang Jeong-min, Song Ji-hyo
The Way HomeDramaEul-boon Kim, Seung-ho Yu, Hyo-hee Dong
A Bittersweet LifeDrama, ActionLee Byung-hun, Kim Yeong-cheol, Shin Min-ah
A Tale of Two SistersHorror, Suspense, DramaLim-soo Jung, Jung-ah Yum
Secret ReunionAction, Drama, ThrillerKang-ho Song, Dong-won Kang, Yun-seo Choi
The Good, The Bad, The WeirdAction, Adventure, ComedyKang-ho Song, Byung-hun Lee, Woo-sung Jun
Hide and SeekThriller, MysteryMi-seon Jeon
The Beauty InsideRomantic, ComedyHyo-Joo Han, Park Seo-Joon
House of HummingbirdDrama, Arthouse, LGBTQ Ji-hu Park , Sae-byuk Kim, Seung-yeon Lee

Which is the best Korean movie of all time? 

I’ve watched all these Korean movies as I’m a big fan but I found Parasite to be the best Korean movie because of it’s plot, characters, themes and screenplay. Here’s why:

Parasite is an Academy Award winning movie under various categories. This movie is a thriller comedy about the Kim family who sees an opportunity to work in the wealthy Park family. All of them symbiotically join to work under Park family by any means and start living a parasitic life. It subtly shows bold themes like class discrimination and greed. It’s a hilarious watch. Parasite is available to watch on Amazon Prime. 

Best Korean Movies Of All Time

Old Boy

Genre: Drama and Suspense | Duration: 1hr 59 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 8.4

Old Boy is a 2003 film by Park Chan-wook of the suspense and drama genre. This movie is set up in South Korea about a boy whose life is shown in and out of prison. He was kidnapped and put in prison for 15 years of his life. 

best south korean movies of all time

He’s released all of a sudden and all his motive is to kill his captivator within 5 days. This movie is extremely captivating with lots of suspense that will keep you hooked to the movie. Watch it with your friends and family when you’ve a free mind to understand the movie better. 

The movie is sadistic, mysterious and captivating. 

Memories of Murder

Genre: Drama and Suspense | Duration: 2hrs 11 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 8.1

Another suspense and drama movie, Memories of Murder is definitely one of the best Korean movies of all time. This movie is full of action and stars Kang-ho Song, Sang-kyung Kim, and Roe-ha Kim who are detectives. 

As detectives they solve various rapes and murder cases in Korea around 1986. Another detective joins them from another country as they solve to find the 3rd murder case that leads them to the killer.

This movie is an engaging tale directed by Joon Ho Bong and is only available in Korean on Prime. 

Mother

Genre: Crime thriller and Suspense | Duration: 2hrs 9 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.9

This movie is an engaging crime thriller about a widow and her 28 years old mentally challenged son who live in a small town in Korea and have a quiet life. Her son is blamed for a murder he didn’t commit which is when the story takes a different turn. 

Watch her mother turn the lawsuit into her own hands to prove the innocence of his son. This tale is something you’d expect to take turns like this. It’s awesome to watch with friends and family. 

The Handmaiden

Genre: LGBTQ, Mystery, Romance | Duration: 2hrs 25 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 8.2

This is a sensual drama between two women, a Japanese lady of the scheduled estate and a Korean girl who’s hired to be her handmaiden. Sooke, the handmaiden secretly plans to run away with all the fortune of the heiress. 

This plan however, takes emotional turns in the way and a lot changes in between. This movie is a must watch if you’re looking for something romantic as well as mystery and thriller in between. 

Parasite

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Mystery & Thriller | Duration: 2hrs 12 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 8.7

Parasite is a 2019 Korean film that has been awarded many Academy awards and was also nominated for Oscar. It’s directed by Joon Ho Bong.

The movie is based on topics like greed and class discriination that become a problem in the Park family and the Kim clan. It’s hilarious to watch and is pretty much like a modern fairytale. It’s a must watch for anyone interested in current global topics like discrination.

The Wailing

Genre: Horror | Duration: 1hr 29 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 5.7

The Wailing is a 2008 horror Korean film directed by Na Hong-jin. This is packed with psychological thriller, horror, mystery, black magic, zombie and a lot more. An actor get’s his friends to Erie villa where his old mother stays.  

An unusual disease seems to spread and a mysterious stranger is supposedly the reason. The local police solve the mystery as murders continue to happen. It’s a perfect movie to watch if you’re into the horror genre as it has every element of it. 

The Chaser

Genre: Action | Duration: 2hrs 5 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.8

This Korean tale is about a police officer who is always disregarded and is now retired. He runs his own prostitution raquet. 

A lot of girls escape and run away from the brothel without letting him know after realising that they’re not getting what they were owed and are trapped with a psychopath serial killer. The police officer is stuck in his own race against time to find them before it’s too late. 

The Chaser is one of the best movies that I’ve ever seen and I’d recommend it to everyone who loves watching action packed with thrillers. 

Thirst

Genre: Horror, Romance, Drama | Duration: 2hrs 14 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.1

Thirst is one of the most famous Korean movies full of horror, romance as well as drama and directed by Chan- wook Park. It’s about a priest who works at a hospital and joins the mission of secret vaccination. 

The project goes wrong and due to some emergency transfusion, the priest turns into a vampire who develops the taste of blood and unleashes his darkest desire through it. This is a must watch if you like vampire movies. 

The Host

Genre: Serious, Gory, Melodramatic | Duration: 1hr 59 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.2

The Host is a must-watch for all those who are into serious and gory movies. This Korean movie is less of horror and more of terror unleashing through demons and other horror elements like mass hysteria, pollution, consumerism etc.

This is about the American military base of Yangson that released chemicals in the Han River’s drain that led to the rise of the squid monster that attacks people. This movie is a great watch. 

Always

Genre: Emotional, Romantic | Duration: 1hr 45 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.8

Always is one of the most romantic Korean films that’s utterly emotional. It’s perfect to watch with friends. The story of Always is about an ex boxer who is now a parking lot attendant and a girl who’s slowly losing her vision. 

Their relationship deepens as they get to know about each other’s past. This tale is quite romantic and perfect to watch alone or with your loved ones for an emotional overdose. 

I Saw The Devil

 Genre: Horror and Suspense | Duration: 2hrs 22 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.8

I Saw The Devil is an2010 horror movie which is still one of the best Korean horror movies. The plot goes like this, a well-trained psychopath killer targets women, children and also his own fiance. 

The protagonist is well-minded to find the killer even if that means he had to take the devil’s root. He starts a game of catch and release with a lot of twists and turns

 

71: Into the Fire

 Genre: War, Non-fiction | Duration: 2hrs 00 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.4

71: Into The Fire is a real life war story that took place in South Korea in August 1950. The Korean army goes to protect Nakdong river as they wait for UN troops to arrive. 

There are 71 student- soldiers who are left behind to protect Pohang city who are on a mission to protect the country from North Korean troops. This engaging true story will rerun history for you on the screen. Definitely you should watch it if you’re into historical movies.

Bedevilled

 Genre: Thriller, Horror | Duration: 1hr 57 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.3

Bedevilled is directed by Jang Cheol-soo and is an award winning movie of all times that also aired in Cannes Film Festival. This movie is about a women who was subjected to mental and physical and sexual abuse was left out on a stranded island. 

The story revolves around the thriller experience of the women who seek her way out of the island crossing the tough paths. It’s a painful watch but makes you understand a lot of things. 

Train to Busan

 Genre: Thriller, Horror | Duration: 1hr 58 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.5

This movie is one of the most engaging Korean movies of all time. It’s set in South Korea and packed with horror and thriller elements. The story is about a man and his daughter who catch a fast train to Busan and experience an unnatural zombie apocalypse during their journey. 

It’s really worth watching how the passengers protect their families and themselves during this horrendous ride. 

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring

Genre: Romantic and Drama | Duration: 1hr 45 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 8.0

This is one of my favorite Korean movies directed by Kim Ki-duk. The title of this movie is, however, a symbology of passing seasons. The story is about a young boy who was raised by a buddist monk and taught lessons of wisdom and compassion in a floating temple. 

A young girl comes to the temple one day to seek help for her health where the boy falls in love with her and goes to the modern world behind her. He is unprepared for this and it all seems like an adventure for him. 

This movie speaks volumes just by its title’s metaphorical meaning. It’s quite deep and has a meaningful message at the end. 

Take Care of My Cat

Genre: Drama and Comedy | Duration: 1hr 52 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.2

Take Care of My Cat is about 5 young Korean girls in the port city of Incheon who are recent graduates and try to keep their friendship maintained even as they separate their paths from each other. 

It subtly shows class division & economic disparity that strains their friendship. The small cat becomes their means to repair their friendship by passing on to take care of it chance by chance. 

New World

Genre: Suspense, International, Action | Duration: 2hrs 15 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.6

New World is a 2013 film directed by Park Hoon-jeong and is definitely one of the best Korean movies of all time. The cast of this movie is absolutely amazing and their acting will make you fall in love with it.

Enjoy this tale where an undercover cop tries to play both the roles of cop and a goon and manages the difficultes. If you’ve watched the english movie, Godfather, you’re gonna love this one as well. 

The Way Home

Genre: Drama | Duration: 1hr 28 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.8

This is a very old heartwarming Korean movie that you’d love to watch with kids or your grandparents. It’s about a boy Sang-woo who is consumed in this modern technology and has no idea how it is living without it.

When he’s forced to live with grandmother, he’s taken back to see that there’s no electricity, restaurants etc. He discouranges his grandma’s attempt to please him but with him he understands her loving gestures and awakens his understanding. 

This movie will remind you of your grandparents and you, for sure. It’s one of the top Korean movies of all times. 

A Bittersweet Life

Genre: Drama and Action | Duration: 1hr 59 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.5

A Bittersweet Life is packed with action, crime and drama, directed by Kim Jee-woon.  This movie is about a Korean mobster who doesn’t listen to his boss’s orders.

best crime korean movies of all time

This movie is amazing because it doesn’t glorify gangsters but rather covers what actually happens upon betrayal. This movie has a great suspense where you can find light in the darkest places.

A Tale of Two Sisters

Genre: Horror, Suspense, Drama | Duration: 1hr 59 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.5

A Tale of Two Sisters is a psychological thriller, suspense and drama. After spending a lot of time in a mental hospital, the two sisters reunite to find that their mother has passed away and her ghost is still haunting the house. 

The girls deal with a horrific situation with their step mom. This story has a blurring boundary between horror and psychological thriller which will hold you back till the very end. 

Secret Reunion

Genre: Drama, Action and Thriller | Duration: 1hr 57 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.0

Secret Reunion is another best Korean movie with an extremely amazing plot by Hun Jung. This story is about a reunion of years after the North Korean spy reunited with a South Korean Agent for some freelance detective work.

The intention was only to steal information from each other. While The South Korean Agent wanted to go home, the North Korean spy kept him hooked. This is a must watch action Korean film with great elements of drama and thriller.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird

Genre: Comedy, Action and Adventure | Duration: 2hrs 10 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.3

The Good, The Bad, The Weird is a movie you can watch repeatedly and not get bored. This movie is about the villains chasing an uncovered treasure that’s buried.

I don’t have a count on how many times I’ve watched this movie, but I still enjoyed it as though I’m watching it for the first time. 

These people fight the Chinese bandits, Japanese army and each other as they set out to find the treasure. It’s hirarious as well as action-packed, perfect for a weekend movie night!

Hide and Seek

Genre: Thriller and Mystery | Duration: 1hr 47 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.0

Hide and Seek is a Korean movie that has amazing mystery and thriller elements that will keep you hooked till the very end. This is about a man who has everything but is going through Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as well as insomnia.

His brother goes missing and as he sets out to find him, he is encountered with a shocking truth under a mysterious apartment. Go watch the movie before I spill the spoilers because this movie has kept me hooked for a good time. 

The Beauty Inside

Genre: Romantic and Comedy | Duration: 2hr 7 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.4

The Beauty Inside is a Korean cute romcom movie that you should definitely watch either with your friends or your dear ones.Park, Seo-Joon, the most famous Korean actor among teens is a part of this movie and it is an extremely lovely watch.

The movie is about Woo-Jin, a boy who makes up everyday to be in a different body, not limited to gener, nationality or age. Though he is only the same person on the inside but to the outer world, it’s a constant change.

House of Hummingbird

Genre: Drama, Arthouse, LGBTQ | Duration: 2hrs 18 mins  | Editor’s Rating: 7.4

This 2018 film is one of the best Korean movies of all time. It’s set in 1994 when Seongsu bridge collage. A young 14 year old girl named Eun-hee wanders about the city in search of love. 

She is ignored by her parents and abused by her brother. Seeking comfort by her best friend, she explores the world and new adventures that come her way. This movie breaks the cliche genre and gives you real entertainment with a heart warming message, do watch it. 

Favourite Korean Movies

This list of Korean movies has everything you need from rom-coms to crime thrillers. It’s paced with fun and entertainment. Hope you find this list of the best Korean movies of all time interesting and worth watching. 

Have a fun watch!

Also Read

  1. Top Korean Web Series on Netflix
  2. Top Korean Dramas on Netflix

You may also like

You cannot copy content of this page