10 Best Korean Movies of All Time | Epic Korean movies | Time to Hunt
Many of the greatest movies made in the last two decades have come from South Korea’s movie industry. With Parasite’s best picture win shed new light on the South Korean film scene, we figured it would be useful to have a guide for visitors to the best of South Korea’s cinematic production. Join us as we count down the top 10 Korean movies of all time.
Top 10 Best Korean Movies of All Time
1. I Saw the Devil – Best Korean Movies of All Time
It was released in 2011, Kim Jee-Woon’s I Saw The Devil asks a simple question: How far can you go to exact revenge? In this critically acclaimed crime thriller, the question is answered, and then some.
The film investigates how much a grieving man can cause himself to slip down an immoral path in order to get revenge for the murder. It is centered on the reign of serial killer Jang Kyung-Chul (Oldboy’s Choi Min-Sik) and Kim Soo-Hyun (Lee Byung-hun), the man hellbent on getting him to justice after his pregnant fiancée is brutally murdered.
By the end of this gritty and tragic film, it’s difficult to say if Soo-Hyun is right in his approach to justice, and much more difficult to distinguish between the story’s heroes and villains.
2. Parasite (2019) – Best Korean Movies of All Time
And there’s Parasite. What is there to say about this film that hasn’t already been said? It won several awards in early 2020, including Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards. This film is that sweet.
Bong Joon-ho borrowed elements and ideas from virtually all of his previous films for Parasite, including the close-knit relationship of the economically-depressed Kim family and how their closeness and lack of wealth contrasts with the well-off but remote Park family that they come to support.
We won’t go into too much depth about the movie’s storyline, but we would recommend that you should see it. You may believe that the film has been over-hyped, but this is one of those rare occasions when a film beats all standards.
3. Train to Busan (2016) – Best Korean Movies of All Time
The ideal combination of horror and active engagement? Perhaps. Train to Busan is a thrilling zombie film that has everything you might expect from the genre. Train to Busan benefits immensely from memorable characters, inventive set pieces, and spectacular stunt work.
The zombies are performed in an especially offensive and entertaining way. Train to Busan: Peninsula, the recently released sequel, does not surprise me as much, so stick with the original and you will have a wonderful time.
4. My Sassy Girl – Best Korean Movies of All Time
My Sassy Girl, a dramatic romantic comedy starring Tae-Hyun Cha, Ji-Hyun Jun, and In-mun Kim, is set in Seoul, South Korea. The film is based on a collection of true stories that were published as best-selling novels. When a young man saves an inebriated girl who is standing painfully next to a train in a metro station, he feels responsible for her even as she manages to get him into trouble.
5. The Host (2006) – Best Korean Movies of All Time
Long before introducing the audience to Parasite, Snowpiercer, and even the criminally underrated Okja, Bong Joon-ho was busy with films like Memories Of Murder (more on that later) and the 2006 monster film The Host.
The Host, which touches on many of the same topics as Parasite, revolves around Park Gang-du (Parasite’s Song Kang-ho) and his family after his daughter is brutally kidnapped and eaten by a monster who lives in the nearby Han River.
What follows is one of the most innovative takes on the monster movie genre in decades, earning the film’s director critical acclaim and serving as a springboard for larger-scale films later in his career.
6. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring
Ki-Duk Kim, Yeong-su Oh, and Jong-ho Kim star in the romantic drama Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring, which is set in the Korean wilderness. The story is told by the eyes of a Buddhist monk who raises a young boy on a floating temple and teaches him the concepts of wisdom and compassion.
When a teenage girl arrives at the temple needing medical assistance, the boy falls in love with her and leads him out into a new world for which he is utterly unprepared.
7. OLDBOY | PARK CHAN-WOOK | 2003
Oldboy attracted an International audience to Korean thrillers and is regarded as one of the genre’s best groundbreaking movies. The second installment of Park Chan-wook’s Vengence Trilogy’ is a bloodcurdling vengeance symphony.
An exotic revenge drama with the Oedipus complex, incest, and a glimmer of hope for empathy and humanity combined with skin-crawling off-screen brutality will leave you disgusted, fearful, and horrified. What begins as a vivid dream descends into a perdition horror of kafkaesque aesthetics.
An intoxicated, arrogant man is imprisoned for fourteen years before being released without warning and given a mobile phone, money, and expensive clothing. He navigates a futile life in search of a reason, which ultimately turns into tracking down the guy who did it to him, Lee Woo-jin, and exacting revenge.
Park Chan-wook portrays all characters with a grey brush and a touch of remorse, but he never takes the moral high ground in the process. Though vengeance is at the core of the film, an equally fascinating subplot follows the origins of Lee Woo-conception jin’s of revenge as a means of redemption, born out of shame and cathartic emotions.
The All-Time Greatest Psychological Thrillers
8. THE BOW | KIM KI-DUK | 2005
Kim Ki-Duk’s The Bow’ is an enigmatic and mysterious character portrait of a 16-year-old girl who has spent a decade on the boat and an elderly man with a multipurpose bow who wants to marry her when she reaches the age of 17. The girl has been away from civilization for a decade, which has significant psychological implications, as shown by her character’s uncertainty.
When a young college student boards their tugboat, the quiet, predictable life, and bond of confidence crack. When the girl internalizes her right of choice, the crack widens. Kim Ki-Duk never reveals the motivation or attempts to settle the conflicts; instead, he uses silence and calming music to focus on the characters’ emotional quandaries.
9. BURNING | LEE CHANG-DONG | 2018
“Burning” is a breathtaking, oblique, enigmatic riddle story riddled with unexpected twists and turns. It’s a well-crafted film, with subdued cinematography and complete command of its prose, as shown by the strong characterization and well-earned climax that you won’t see coming from 500 miles away.
The most impressive aspect of “Burning” is the controlled and restrained storytelling, which uses limited exposition and relies on visual cues to convey the characters’ airtight suspense. Anger, sorrow, rage, love, and jealousy are never articulated expressly. Rather, they are internalized in awkward silences, which are heightened by Kim Da-won’s ranking.
10. THE WAILING | NA HONG-JIN | 2016
Na Hong-jin deftly combines various genres, creating a supernatural horror featuring a satanic cult and an ancient folk story. “The Wailing” is like a massive beast that is not apparent, but its terrifying, ominous nature of supernatural energy can be sensed through the eerie quiet as if you are about to be gulped by a rain of fear.
Set in a remote mountain town in South Korea, villagers face their worst nightmare: the unexplained killing of villagers with no suspect. Na Hong-jin allowed the central plot to evolve organically over time while keeping its viewers occupied by establishing the perplexing trap of horror, served with a splash of doleful humor. This horror masterpiece is unquestionably one of the best Korean movies of the century.