35 Best Korean Movies For A Soporific Afternoon, Ranked

South Korean cinema is well recognised for its on-screen, no-holds-barred, gruesome violence, which would rank among the most disturbing films. Here, we present you with the best Korean movies of all time.

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35 Best Korean Movies For A Soporific Afternoon, Ranked
Certified Korean Movies 

South Korean cinema is well recognised for its on-screen, no-holds-barred, gruesome violence, which would rank among the most disturbing films. With Parasite's historic Best Picture win at the 2020 Oscars, South Korea has established itself as a formidable opponent in the debate over which countries are currently creating the best films. Here, we present you with the best Korean movies of all time.

#35 Hope (2013)


"Hope," a terrible film about a beautiful family, is based on the infamously tragic Nayoung Case, which shocked the country in 2008. When their 8-year-old daughter So-won is beaten, raped, and left to die, their peaceful lives are shattered. So-won survives the inhumane treatment, but she and her family are left with psychological and emotional scars.

#34 PIETÀ (2012)


Is it possible for you to escape the horrors of your past? Is there still hope for you if you're an immoral person or a victim of circumstance? Ki-Duk Kim's films frequently provide minor but substantial remarks on human nature.

Kim tells the story of a cruel loan shark who is cold-hearted, harsh, and ruthless in his dealings with his debtors. He doesn't offer them more time nor does he kill them; instead, he cripples them. He makes their lives unbearably difficult. He is frigid because he has no sorrow or compassion for his victim.

#33 The Way Home (2002)

The Way Home 

The plot of 'The Way Home' is well-known, and there are going to be sentimental elements in it. When they spend the summer together in her rural South Korean town, a lovely, quiet grandma, who is oblivious of contemporary technologies such as electricity, drainage, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, wins over her pampered grandson.

Because of the economic downturn, grandmother's daughter has decided to leave Sang-woo for the summer until she can find work in a metropolis. The story has been accomplished with such tenderness and affection for the characters by writer and director Jeong-Hyang Lee that it 'feels' fresh and new. He avoids all clichés and genre conventions in order to build a story around a character whose trajectory is dictated by their internalised feelings rather than the ideological and societal divides between the protagonists.

#32 Thirst (2009)


Park Chan-Wook adds a novel twist to a common trope in popular culture: vampires with high cheekbones that siphon off blood and have lengthened teeth to latch on the carotid artery. Even if the notion of vampires' existence has a similar fate to fairy tales, his jazzed-up and evolved vampire narrative feels relatable.

Park Chan-Wook's "Thirst" is filled with a plethora of original ideas and painstaking characterization, and he becomes nasty and disturbing at times, which is typical of him. His ideas might be cynical at times, which can make you uncomfortable. Park Chan manages to give the characters emotional depth by layering them. He creates a moral battleground between two diametrically opposed souls who are linked by estranged feelings.

#31 The Host (2006)

The Host 

'The Host,' directed by Bong Joon-ho, is a subtle but caustic critique of public panic, health-care bureaucracy, consumerism, and pollution, rather than a horror picture about a slimy tentacle monster spewing dread across the Han River shoreline.

The drama surrounding the dysfunctional family serves as a connecting tissue, allowing the screenplay to address the concerns under the guise of a monster movie without weighing it down. Bong Joon-greatest ho's feat is pulling off a moment of comedy in the midst of the saddest sequence, which he does with panache in The Host. Try not to chuckle when the family is grieving the loss of their sweet adolescent daughter.

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#30 Lady Vengence (2005)

Lady Vengence

Lee Geum-Ja has been in prison for the past 13 years for a murder she did not commit. She's dreamed about exacting vengeance on those who have harmed her, including the cop who compelled her to confess and a dubious teacher with whom she has a tumultuous relationship. She pairs up with a group of quirky friends she met while in prison to clear her record and find the daughter she was forced to leave behind after her release.

#29 I Saw The Devil (2010)

I Saw The Devil

Kyung-Chul, a cab driver, comes upon a terrified female motorist trapped in a broken-down vehicle on a dark road. He comes to a halt, but not to assist her. When the woman's head is found in a nearby river, her distraught fiancé, Kim Soo-Hyeon, a skilled secret agent, becomes obsessed with finding her killer. Things start to get complicated once he meets Kyung-Chul. Kim lets the murderer walk free after viciously beating him, and a bizarre game of cat and mouse ensues.

#28 IL Mare (2000)

Il Mare 

Two disturbed persons are linked by letters found in the mailbox at Il Mare, the name of the Lake House while being separated by a temporal time warp. The concept may seem absurd, but the way individuals negotiate their personal space and cure one other via a fantasy exchange of letters, without falling to genre conventions, has more to do with instinct and the passion of love than the plot itself. In 2006, Hollywood couldn't resist the film's allure and adapted it as 'The Lake House,' starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.

#27 New World (2013)

New World

The sophisticated gangster drama 'New World,' directed by Park Hoon-Jung, is an intense character study of the Korean Crime syndicate's inner workings, which begins to break apart after the Chairman's death in a staged car accident. When a helpless Ja-sung, an impassive undercover detective who entered the syndicate eight years ago, fails to find a way out, his devotion is called into question. The storey develops on the Shakespearean landscape of betrayal and shifting loyalties as it navigates through the disintegrating empire.

#26 The Brotherhood Of War (2004)

The Brotherhood Of War

Jin-Tae has always been concerned about his younger brother, Jin-Seok, even shining shoes to help support his college education. Jin-Tae decides to defend his younger brother as the Korean War erupts and both brothers are enlisted. Jin-Tae strikes a deal with his commander: he'll take the most dangerous missions if it means keeping Jin-Seok safe from war. Jin-Tae grows up to be a war hero, with a developing bloodlust that surprises his younger brother.

#25 Oldboy (2003)


Dae-Su is an unpleasant drinker who has been bailed out of jail yet again by a friend. He is, however, kidnapped off the street and wakes up in a cell, where he will spend the next 15 years, drugged unconscious when human contact is unavoidable and with just the television for companionship the rest of the time. Then, after being unexpectedly released, he is urged to track down his tormentor in a stunning conclusion.

#24 The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008)

The Good, The Bad, The Weird

An encounter on a train in 1930s Manchuria sets off an epic quest for a treasure map, culminating in a marathon chase for the loot. Do-won, aka "The Good," is a bounty hunter on the hunt for Chang-yee, aka "The Bad," a seductive hit guy aiming to steal a military official's map. When the unscrupulous Tae-goo obtains the map for himself, however, he throws a wrench in both of their schemes.

#23 The Bow (2005)

The Bow 

'The Bow,' directed by Kim Ki-Duk, is an enigmatic and ambiguous character study of a 16-year-old girl who has spent a decade aboard a boat. The girl is under the supervision of an elderly man with a multifunctional bow, who intends to marry her when she reaches the age of seventeen. She's been isolated from civilization for a decade, which has major psychological ramifications, as evidenced by the character's actions.

#22 The World Of Us (2016)

The World Of Us

Yoon Ga-Eun investigates the fundamental and extrinsic stresses that modern Korean youngsters confront without resorting to theatrics or event manipulation. Sun, an elementary school girl and social outcast, befriends a transfer student called Jia over a summer vacation in the film. When the new semester begins, Sun and Jia's new friendship is put to the test as they face bullying and internal issues. Will they be able to break through their barriers?

#21 A Tale Of Two Stories (2003)

A Tale Of Two Stories

Su-mi, a Korean teen, reunites with her loving sister, Su-Yeon, after being institutionalized in a mental facility, and the two return to their country home. The girls' widower father has remarried, and his new wife, Eun-Joo, is immediately despised by the siblings. Strange incidents afflict the house as Su-mi and Su-Yeon struggle to resume their normal lives, leading to unexpected disclosures and a terrible conclusion.

#20 Oasis (2002)


Hong Jong-du is released with no money and nowhere to go after serving time for killing a man in a hit-and-run vehicle accident. His family has turned their backs on him. He encounters Han Gong-Ju, his victim's adult daughter while attempting to make apologies. Her heartless family has abandoned her in a shabby apartment because she is wheelchair-bound owing to cerebral palsy. The recklessly impetuous Jong-du is drawn to Gong-innate Ju's sensitivity, and the two begin an unlikely relationship.

#19 Oki's Movie (2010)

Oki's Movie 

The love triangle was given a frustratingly unorganized but thrilling narrative twist by Hong Sang-soo. It's a self-referential metadrama with subtle humor and awkward droll throughout. In the shattered story that depicts the awkward and painful turmoil of love, ambiguities, ironies, and the gulf between men's and women's experiences emerge. It follows a neurotic, insecure young filmmaker named Jingu, a mature but questionable professor named Song, and a fellow student named Oki as they become entangled in an uncomfortable but sensual relationship.

#18 House Of Hummingbird (2019)

House Of Hummingbird

"House of Hummingbird" is a coming-of-age novel about lonely and awkward adolescents trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be during a period of upheaval in their personal lives as well as in the wider world. Based on that description alone, there's a good likelihood that many of you are recalling a variety of films that match those characteristics, albeit strangely at times. This one, on the other hand, is one of the good ones—a nuanced and fascinating take on a familiar issue bolstered tremendously by writer/director Bora Kim and young lead actress Ji-hu Park's contributions.

#17 The Day He Arrives (2011)

The Day He Arrives 

Hang Sang-soo is well-known for weaving personal experience into a fictitious plot to create an intimate meta-narrative. "The Day He Arrives" has the potential to be his most sincere existential slacker comedy yet. Seong-jun, a sloppy filmmaker with four films under his belt, is on the verge of getting thrown out. He's in Seoul to meet up with his critic pal Young-ho.

They spend numerous seemingly repeated days in a bar, much like Groundhog Day, except that each day brings new developments and energy shifts. They run into Young-teacher ho's buddy, a bar owner, and an actor who has been offered a role in Seong-Jun's film. Their interactions are fairly banal, as one may anticipate from Hang's movies.

#16 Right Now, Wrong Then (2015)

Right Now, Wrong Then

Hong Sang-soo, a South Korean director, raises the emotional stakes of this cinematic romance by doubling the drama. It's the story of Ham Chunsu, a well-known art-house filmmaker who has a day to kill before presenting his new film at a festival in Suwon. He meets Heejung, a young artist who is awestruck by his fame and invites him to her studio while visiting a shrine. He takes an interest in her work there, and eventually professes his desire to her during the course of a shambling evening of drinking.

#15 Painted Fire (2002)

Painted Fire 

It all starts with a Korean artist's suspicions about a Japanese art collector who admires his work. The narrative then shifts back to his father's early years. He began as a wanderer with a passion for drawing, and he has a talent for replicating other people's art, but he is encouraged to pursue his own style. This is a terrible process for him, and he frequently acts out, getting drunk and rude to those who care about him and want to help him.

These events take place against the backdrop of Korea's battle for reform, which is stuck between China and Japan (the country was conquered by Japan in 1910, which is outside the film's timeline).

#14 Parasite (2019)


Bong Joon-intelligent ho's and compelling comedy/thriller became one of the most talked-about films of the year, setting a new standard for the impact that a South Korean picture can have on American moviegoers. The film is chock-full of social satire, exhilarating scenes, and meaty language that merits a thorough 'Parasite' movie study.

Although 'Parasite' is not Bong Joon-best ho's work, it is an incredibly engaging film from the start. It's a commercial potboiler with a social and class undercurrent that seamlessly transitions between Shakespearean melodrama and Hitchcockian suspense.

#13 Take Care Of My Cat (2001)

Take Care Of My Cat 

Hae-Joo is a greedy, self-centered, and ambitious individual who seeks satisfaction through material possessions. Her buddies aren't going to be able to fit into her future plans. She casts a sneering glance at them. It has to do with their inability to find stable work. Ji-young, who wants to study textile design overseas, is particularly disdainful of her. Ji-parents young's are deceased, and the family's financial situation prevents her from continuing her education.

Ji-young is rudely reminded of it by Hae-Joo. Tae-hee is the most mature and kind-hearted of them all. She is employed by her parents. Because of her large family, she finds living at home claustrophobic. Ohn-jo and Bi-Ryu, identical twins, are pleased with their life in a tiny village. They are unconcerned about their plight and have no plans for the future.

To connect the four-story arcs, Jae-Eun frames the plot around three reunions to demonstrate the spreading breach in their connection that is beyond repair. He also utilizes a little cat that Ji-young finds in an alleyway and passes from friend to friend.

#12 Train To Busan (2016)

Train To Busan

In a train destined for Busan, survival is a matter of life and death. Seok-woo, a divorced dad, is constantly preoccupied with business, leaving him no time to spend with his daughter Su-an. He offers to take her on a train to Busan to see her mother. As the train departs, a strange virus spreads from an afflicted girl, and people begin to turn into zombies. Will Seok-woo and Su-an survive the ordeal? TRAIN TO BUSAN is filmmaker Yeon Sang-Ho's first feature film, and his edgy animation has earned him acclaim at Cannes.

#11 Microhabitat (2017)


Miso, the protagonist of Jeon Go-Woon's debut Microhabitat, prefers her vices – alcohol and cigarettes – to having a roof over her head. This is a unique and unexpected decision. But, contrary to my original impression that Miso's choice in the film was emotional, the film is written with such conviction and a fresh and persuasive perspective that Miso's choice in the film appears potent and sensible. Miso's detached attitude about life and priorities will make you reflect on your own existence.

Miso goes couch-surfing throughout Seoul as the rent goes up and cigarettes and booze become too expensive. She brings an egg tray as a present for each friend she sees. Jeon Go-Woon contrasts the culture and economics of Korean metropolitan life with the economy of the impoverished. She does it without any sneering or pity in her eyes. Miso is fascinating because she barters her trade for essentials and helps her pals along the way so that she does not go into debt with her friends, who are most likely in debt themselves.

#10 Mother (2009)


A mother is traditionally regarded as a sign of unwavering devotion, capable of sacrificing everything for her kid without hesitation. 'Mother,' directed by Bong Joon-ho, attempts to traverse a mother's emotional problem and comprehend the reality of unconditional love.

Bong Joon builds a heartbreaking mystery thriller around the murder of a teenage girl, with a moderately intellectual guy as the prime suspect. His mother embarks on a haphazard search to uncover the true perpetrator. It drags her into a maze of lies and moral turpitude. Kim Hye-Ja brilliantly immerses herself in this role, delivering a subtle performance that will be remembered for a long time.

#9 Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring (2004)

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring

It's tough to write about a film with a plot that is intuitive, visceral, and expansive. How can you write about something that so closely resembles life and explores it against the backdrop of the seasons changing?

A little Buddhist monastery, a world unto itself, is introduced to us on a raft floating in the middle of a mountain pond. A repeating circle of life has an aging monk preparing to pass on his wisdom to a young monk. Life develops against the backdrop of four seasons. As time has come to a halt, encapsulating the emotions of existing and perpetually flourishing.

#8 The Handmaiden (2016)

The Handmaiden 

"The Handmaiden" is a love story, revenge thriller, and puzzle film set in Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1930s directed by Park Chan-Wook. It's voluptuously gorgeous, openly sexual, weird at times, and horribly violent. Its sheer existence seems unfathomable at times. Despite this, all of the film's various components are put together with such care, and the characters are written and portrayed with such psychological sensitivity, that you never get the impression that the writer-director is rubbing the audience's nose in excessive amounts of one kind or another.

#7 Burning (2018)


"Burning" is a beautiful, enigmatic, ambiguous riddle story full of unexpected twists and turns. It's a well-made film with subdued cinematography and complete control over its script, as evidenced by the strong characterization.

The most impressive aspect of "Burning" is the restrained and controlled narration, which relies on visual cues to depict the tight tension between the characters. Anger, grief, fury, love, and envy are never stated clearly. Instead, they're absorbed in awkward silences, which are heightened by Kim Da-disturbing won's score.

#6 The King And The Clown (2005)

The King and The Clown 

The King and the Clown is a tragicomedy set in the past. It's a subtly nuanced examination of sexuality, love, envy, and lunacy set against the backdrop of 15th-century Korean socio-cultural components during King Yeonsan's reign. The rich plot, compelling monologues, and dramatic tropes combine to create a tragic conundrum that bears striking resemblance to Shakespearean tragedy.

Adapted from a stage play by Lee Joon-Ik and Choi Seok-hwan, deconstructs the interpersonal and intrapersonal interactions of two ill-fated traveling clowns who become entangled in a web of compassion, generosity, and longing for a nice life.

#5 The Wailing (2016)

The Wailing 

Set in a remote mountain town in South Korea, village residents are confronted with their worst nightmare: the mystery murder of village residents with no suspect. Na Hong-jin allowed the basic plot to evolve naturally over time while keeping the audience occupied by creating a perplexing horror trap with a touch of doleful humor. This horror masterpiece is without a doubt one of the best Korean films of the century.

#4 On the Beach at Night Alone (2017)

On The Beach At Night Alone 

Sang-soo Hong's film On the Beach at Night Alone finds him working in a more intimate vein while maintaining the singular sensibilities that have driven much of his celebrated previous work. Young-hee is a jaded actress in Korea who is stressed out by her romance with a married man. On the beach, she wonders if he misses her as much as she misses him.

#3 Peppermint Candy (1999)

Peppermint Candy 

Following a man's suicide, time traverses back to reveal six chapters of his life on why he committed suicide. 'Peppermint Candy,' by Lee Chang-dong, is an unflinching and methodical portrayal of a man set against Korea's ever-changing and volatile geopolitical context. In Peppermint Candy, the story is told via the five stages of the protagonist's life. It is written in reverse chronological sequence, beginning with his suicide on the bridge and ending with his college days. It delves into the mind of Young Ho after he mistakenly shoots an innocent girl during the 1980s Gwangju tragedy.

#2 Memories Of Murder (2003)

Memories Of Murder 

"Memories of Murder" is a remarkable achievement in character study and building unsettling tension throughout the film, richly detailed and nerve-wracking. Every scene has a sense of horror lurking in it because of the muted color cinematography and the wide emptiness of the fields in the rain. The ritualistic serial killing of women in a small South Korean town brings together two useless local cops and a calm and rational Seoul cop to solve the crime.

#1 Poetry (2010)


The finest Korean films of the twentieth century Lee Chang-dong is without a doubt one of today's most talented screenwriters and directors. Even if he had the tiniest plot that could be summarised in a single sentence, the intricate and nuanced drama he contains would necessitate numerous viewings to fully appreciate. "Poetry" is the best of the bunch. An underlying subject of Lee's gloomy "Poetry" is contemplating remorse and grief and articulating it to vent out while facing existential crises. Although this is Lee's most accessible work, it is rich in emotional and psychological dimensions.

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