10 Heartbreaking Korean War Movies You Have To Watch This Year

by Jih Yun

Looking for some action-packed movies? Check out this list of best Korean war movies and pick one for your next movie night!

English war movies are very popular and if you have exhausted all the movies that’s been made, head to the Korean entertainment industry for some really well made Korean war movies.

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Best Korean War Movies — Quick Summary

Best Korean War MoviesDirector Editor’s rating 
Northern Limit LineHak-sun Kim7/10
My WayJe-gyu Kang8/10
Operation ChromiteJohn H. Lee6/10
Steel RainWooSuk Yang7/10
A Little PondSang-woo Lee7/10
White BadgeJi-yeong Jeong7/10
In Love and The WarGeon-yong Park7/10
Welcome To DongmakgolKwang-Hyun Park8/10
The Front LineHun Jang7/10

Korean cinema mostly focuses on the Korean war (past as well as the on-going one between South Korea and North Korea), the Vietnam war and the part that the Koreans played in WWII. So, for all you war movie buffs out there, I have listed some of the Best Korean War Movies below with the reviews. Enjoy!

Which are the best Korean war movies?

Here’s a list of some of the best Korean war movie any movie buff will enjoy:

  • Northern Limit Line directed by Hak-sun Kim
  • My Way directed by Je-gyu Kang
  • Operation Chromite directed by John H. Lee
  • Steel Rain directed by WooSuk Yang
  • A Little Pond directed by Sang-woo Lee 

Top Korean War Movies

Northern Limit Line

Director: Hak-sun Kim | Age Rating: 14+ |  Release Date: 24th June 2015 | Duration: 2hr 10min

While many war movies focus on the role played by the army, very few bring to the forefront the bravery of the navy. Northern Limit Line is a depiction of the war fought between North and South Korea in the year 2002, during the time of the World Cup hosted by Japan and Korea.

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Portraying the story of the battle held in the Yellow Sea, The Second Battle of Yeonpyeong, the movie takes us deep into the war where a lot of lives were lost on both sides. The story especially focuses on the lives of many young soldiers who fought and died for their country.

This true story has been captured beautifully by the director and the cinematographer, bringing us as close to reality as it can be possible.

Ode to My Father

Director: Yoon Je-kyoon | Age Rating: PG-13 | Release Date: 2014 | Run Time: 2 hr 10 min

Ode to my Father is not set in war time but parts of the movie depict both Vietnam war and the Korean war. It actually reminded me of Forrest Gump and how the movie portrays his time in the Vietnam war where he meets Lieutenant Dan.

Ode to my Father revolves around how Deok-soo escapes North Korean during the Hungman Evacuation. After which he finds himself in the middle of urban bombings in Vietnam.

Ode to my Father is not only a great watch for the war movie lovers but also a good watch for history buffs!

My Way

Director: Je-kyu Kang | Age Rating: 18+ |  Release Date: 22nd December 2011 | Duration: 2hr 17min 

My Way or “Mai Wei” is a Korean war movie based on the World War II period where Korea and Japan went into war with the Soviets.

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The story is loosely based on the true incidents that  occured when Yang Kyoungjong, a young Korean soldier was enlisted first into the Japanese military, then the soviet military and finally forcefully into the German military during World War II. He was caught by the American paratroopers eventually. 

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The movie follows his life as he was enlisted into each of these military regiments and showcases the various forms of combat across these regiments. There’s plenty of killing, blood shed and gore in this movie, and therefore suitable only for adults or a mature audience.

Operation Chromite

Director: John H.Lee | Age Rating: 15+ |  Release Date:  26th December 2016 | Duration: 1hr 51min

Operation Chromite is a popular Korean war movie that I’m sure many war movie enthusiasts would have heard of, and even watched. If you haven’t already, make sure you line this up for your next movie session cos this is one you should not be missing. 

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Operation Chromite is based on the Battle of Incheon, and the movie is called “Incheon Sangryuk Jakjeon” in Korean. The story follows a group of South Koreans impersonating North Korean troops to infiltrate the camp and gain intelligence on plans and maps.

The movie is quite predictable as they run into problems and the combats that follow. Liam Neeson is a pleasing surprise as he plays the role of General Doughlas Macarthur.  

Steel Rain

Director: Woosuk Yang | Age Rating: 15+ |  Release Date: 14th December 2017 | Duration: 2hr 19min

While a lot of Korean War films are loosely based or inspired by true incidents and stories, Steel Rain is a work of fiction. The movie is very entertaining, fast paced and engaging, managing to keep the viewer hooked at all times.

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Woosuk Yang, the director has outdone himself with this brilliant masterpiece. The story follows a North Korean spy who teams up with a South Korean Bureaucrat to stop the US troops from waging a nuclear war on Korea. 

A lot of English and Hollywood movies are about the USA fighting off other countries, so this is quite refreshing to watch. For all those who watch war movies for the tanks, bombers, helicopters and other hardware, this movie has those and plenty more. It doesn’t have too many battle scenes though, but I’m sure you will be satisfied with whatever it’s got. 

A Little Pond

Director: Sang-woo Lee | Age Rating: 15+ |  Release Date: 15th April 2010 | Duration: 1hr 26 min

A Little Pond is not a typical war movie with battles and combats, rather, it’s more of a memoir of the people who died during the “No Gun Ri Massacre”. The massacre was an important part of the Korean war as it affected many lives and ended up being a turning point. 

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The No Gun Ri Massacre was an incident that was kept under wraps for many years. It involved the Americans shooting hundreds of innocent South Koreans who they believed were protecting North Koreans infiltrators. When this incident finally came to light, the whole of South Korea developed a hatred towards the Americans. 

The movie is based on the stories of few of the people who were killed during the time and is beautifully shot. The cinematography and editing is tight, and the film is shorter than many traditional Korean war movies. 

White Badge

Director: Ji-yeong Jeong | Age Rating: 15+ |  Release Date: 1992 | Duration: 2hrs 4 min

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White badge is based on the autobiography of a South Korean veteran named Ahn Jung-hyo, who fought in the Vietnam war. The Vietnam war is as important to the Koreans as the Korean war. This is because South Korea deployed many of its soldiers to fight for America against the Vietnamese.

This has also left a bitter taste in the mouth for many Koreans as the then South Korean military dictator, Park Chung-Hee used the favour to extract support from the USA against North Korea. 

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The movie portrays the bitterness of the Vietnamese war, the bloodshed of the Korean soldiers, the fiery battlefields, the traumas undergone by the soldiers and how it affected them even after they were back home. The movie was shot in 1992, a few years after the end of the Vietnam war.  

In Love and The War

Director: Geon-yong Park | Age Rating: All Age Groups |  Release Date: 27th April 2011 | Duration: 2hrs 15 min

Sometimes it’s nice to give the stress and seriousness a break and watch a war movie with a little bit of romance in it. “In Love and The War” (roughly translated from the Korean title) is a light hearted war movie that has a bit of comedy and romance mixed with the seriousness of war.

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This fictitious story starts with a group of North Korean troops who enter a South Korean village amidst the Korean war. While we watch the interactions between the villagers and the troops, we discover that the commander of the North Korean troops is looking for a girl from the village he met and knew before the war.

The movie follows his hunt while there is a war waging in the background.

Welcome To Dongmakgol

Director: Kwang-hyun Park | Age Rating: 15+ |  Release Date: 2nd February 2007 | Duration: 2h 13m

A lot of war movies focus on the battles, plans, the soldiers and of course all the hardware. While it is certainly important to learn about the stories and hardships undergone by the people actually fighting the battle, not many movies talk about the civilians and their lives. 

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Welcome To Dongmakgol is quite refreshing that way as it follows the lives of the people in a sweet little village in the mountainous regions of Korea. What is surprising is that the people of the village are so oblivious to what is going on in the rest of the country that they are surprised to see armed South and North Korean troops land in their village. 

The rest of the movie is about how people and humanity can overcome even the worst wars when the military troops decide they want to protect the village from destruction by the war. 

The Front Line

Director: Hun Jang | Age Rating: 15+ |  Release Date: 20th July 2011 | Duration: 2hr 13min

“The Front Line” opens your eyes to the realities of the soldiers fighting it. What are they fighting for? Why are they fighting? Is the other army really their enemy? Would they stop and walk away if they had a choice? These are the reflections of the soldiers who really don’t want to be involved in the war but do so because that’s the way things are and they don’t really have a choice.

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The Front Line is based at a time when the Korean war was drawing to a close in the early 1950’s and each country was trying to gain control of the hills along the 38th parallel. 

Pork Chop Hill

Pork Chop Hill is one of the best Korean war movies that will keep you engaged for a good time. The plot of the movie is pretty simple with Lt. Joe and his team are trying to recapture the Pork Chop Hill from the Chinese Communist forces.

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This war movie tries to send a message of who the true leaders are and how they should be. The movie is all about blood, gory, as well as victory with a great hit of drama that will hold you back while you watch the movie. It’s directed by Lewis Milestone and was released in 1959.

The Pork Chop Hill movie is a symbol for both the positive and the negative that you have to decide at the end. This movie will definitely interest you if you’re into war movies. 


Sunny is an amazing Korean movie about the Vietnam war to watch. The movie has a unique perspective that will get you hooked to the movie. Sunny is the protagonist of the movie which was her stage name as a singer. She’s set to find her husband. 

The protagonist explores Korean socio-cultural impacts and parts of modernisation during her journey. She faces a lot of adventure and tough sites in the middle of her journey to find her husband. You’ll notice how rich Korean culture is as the movie unfurls. 

It’s one of the most interesting Korean war movies that I’ve ever watched and I recommend everyone to watch it. 


This Korean war movie was a great watch with comedy, drama and war scenes overlapping with each other. They use pranks and humour to cope with the horrendous war situations. It’s one of the best Korean movies that you’ll ever watch because of how the plot is executed. 

The movie is focussed on 3 army surgeons who stitch in casualties during the war time. The movie was released in 1970 and is famous till date. Mash is directed by Robert Altman.

The Bridges at Toko-Ri

The Bridges at Toko-Ri is one of the best Korean war movies to enjoy about the Korean War. The story is about Lt. Harry Brubaker who takes the risk to fly over North Korea with his rescue crew’s support. It’s a horrendous bombing mission that holds you back as you watch the movie. 

The ending of this war builds a lot of tension as to what’s gonna happen, will the lieutenant and his team be successful or not? It’s a great movie to learn about the Korean war. The movie exhibits the value of courage over failure. 

If you belong to South Korea you’ll definitely have a sense of patriotic feeling at the end of the movie. 

What are some best Korean war movies on Netflix?

There are so many great Korean War movies on Netflix, it’s hard to know where to start! One of my favorite ones on Netflix is the The Unfinished Swan – This heartwarming movie tells the story of two friends during the Korean War – one American and one South Korean – who must protect each other from danger.

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