Top 10 Korean Movies that will send chills down your Spine!
Korean Movies are usually enthralling when we look at the world cinema in parts. From time to time, the Korean films have been increasing the enthusiasm of people by making the finest films in the world. With clearer indications, there is a list of films from the Ginseng country that would keep you downright alert where people from other countries started importing them to create box office records as well. The Korean films are not only vast but they also cover a wide range of themes and the recent Okja is the one among which depicts the versatility of the film industry. Whatever genre that you usually search for, be it action, horror, neo-noir, criminal or fantasy; you will always find an interesting film in the same.
That being said, here’s a list of Top 10 Korean Movies that you might not want to miss. Have a look!
#1 Oldboy (2003): Oldboy is a South Korean movie, released back in 2003. The film has taken the world by storm because of the theme it contained. Tagged as the neo-noir thriller, it is directed by the infamous Park Chan Wook, who made the film based on the Manga written by Nobuaki Minegishi. Unlike most of the films which are independent, Oldbody is actually the second film in the Trilogy based on Vengeance followed by Sympathy for Lady Vengeance and preceded by Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. The film details about the story of Oh Dae-Su, an imprisoner who gets locked in the cell. Amusingly, this cell represents a hotel room where he stays for 15 years without knowing who captivated him and what his motives are. However, when he was released; he finds himself trapped between violence and conspiracy which leads to his quest for revenge. Over the period, romance comes into the picture when he falls in love with a sushi chef. The film has managed to win many awards and even received praise from the Gore King, Quentin Tarantino at the Grand Prix, Cannes Film Festival; 2004. It has received amazing rating and reviews across the world. Roger Ebert, the famous critic also stated that Oldboy is just more than a powerful film not just because of the story but because of the depth, it represents. It is listed as the best film around the 2000s by many publications, as well.
#2 Train to Busan (2016): Another film that came into limelight recently, is the action thriller which got released in 2016. This South Korean movie deals with the zombie apocalypse and is mostly filled with a truckload of intense action. Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, this film entirely takes place on a train to the Busan, as the title speaks. Suddenly, a zombie apocalypse takes place in the country and the safety of the passengers started getting compromised. The film initially started getting premiered in the Midnight Screenings of the Cannes Film Festival, on 13th of May. However, it took few months for it to set the record as the first Korean film to have the 10 million goers. The film also serves as a major reunion for Jung Yu-mi and Gong Yoo; who played the leads in the famous film, The Crucible, 2011. The movie also had an animated prequel, titled as Seoul Station; directed by Yeon. The film has grossed around $93.1 million, throughout the years and has indeed become the major grossing Korean film in Malaysia, Singapore, Hongkong etc.
#3 Samaritan Girl (2004): Samaritan Girl is again, a South Korean film that got directed and written by Kim Ki-Duk. The film revolves around two teenage girls who try to earn money so that they can take a trip to Europe. Yeo-jin and Jae-Yeong are the two girls out of which the latter tries to prostitute herself for the money while the former acts as the pimp, who sets clients for her and who stays on guard to protect her from the police. However, in a situation, Yeo-jin gets distracted from playing the guard and as a result, Jae-Yeong is on the verge of getting caught at the motel with a client. To escape from the police, she climbs out of the window and gets injured. After her death, Yeo-jin starts blaming herself and to ease her conscience, she starts returning all the money they have earned during the prostitution. After a while, her father, a policeman discovers the truth and gets devastated on following her and confronting the clients. At a period, he ends up brutally killing the client as well. As the movie prolongs; both of them together take a trip where they sense that something is wrong with each of them. Towards the end, the law catches up to the father and he retires in the trust believing that he has made her strong to live without him.
#4 3-Iron (2004): 3-Iron is a South Korean film, that has been directed by Kim Ki-Duk. The film speaks about the relationship between the abused housewife and the young drifter. What makes it interesting is that movie doesn’t contain any dialogues between the two leads and everything, and therefore everything is exerted with emotions. The title has been taken from the gold club, that has been used prominently in this film. Tae Suk is a lone driver who goes around the motorbike, to tape the menus over the doors of people and when the menus are not removed from the doors, he breaks into the apartments. He lives in the apartments while the owners are away, mending their appliances and washing their clothes. However, when he broke into a large home once; he stays unaware of being watched by Sun-Hwa, the abused housewife. After making a subtle eye contact with her, he leaves only to return. Later, he gets to know that her husband has been abusing her and therefore, tries to catch his attention by playing golf. Towards the end, he injures her husband with the golf balls and elopes with her.
#5 My Sassy Girl (2001): As the name says, My Sassy Girl is a South Korean Romcom directed by the infamous Kwak Jae Young, and is released in 2001. This film has been so successful in South Korea and has been the highest grosser of the year. It stars Cha Tae Hyun and Jun Ji Hyun as the leads and even when the film got released in East Asia, it has become a bigger hit throughout the year even in countries including China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other parts of South Asia, as well. To a point, people even started drawing a comparison to Titanic and the American remake has been made by Yann Samuell in 2008, starring Elisha Cuthbert and Jesse Bradford. Coming to the plot, the film actually depicts a story of Gyeon Woo, an Engineering student and “the Girl” who doesn’t have a name in any of the movies. According to Gyeon-Woo; he never can catch a romantic break until one day; while he was having dinner and drinks with his friends; he gets interrupted by his mother who asks him to meet a date while visiting his aunt. Here, he meets the girl and later when she starts giving his her cruel treatment, he realizes that is her way of showing attention. After hanging out for a day, they walk together to her home in the rain and then she demands him to meet her drinker father. The movie follows with Gyeon Woo doing a lot of things to pass the time in order to prove himself and even writes about his dating experiences with the girl on the internet that the buzz gives him a chance to turn his story into a film, by one of the producers.
#6 Joint Security Area: Joint Security Area is a South Korean thriller film that got released in 2000; starring Song Kang-ho, Lee Young-ae; Lee Byung-Hun. It is intentionally based on the DMZ novel, written by Park Sang Yeon; directed by Park Chan Wook. The film has been shot in the locations of South Korean where it concerns circumstances, surrounding a fatal incident with the DMZ, the border which separates South Korea and North Korea. It has been the highest grosser in the history of the Korean film at the time and it has won the Best Film award at the Blue Dragon Film Awards, 2000 and the Grand Bell Awards, 2001. The two North Korean soldiers, however, are killed in DMZ, at the border house of North Korea before Lee Soo Hyeok, the Sergeant. A South Korean soldier on the border duties and he attempts to go back to the other side. The troops on the south rescue him as the gunfire erupts and after two days, the relationship between South Korea and North Korea is based on the dedicated investigation, conducted by Sophie E. Jean, a Swiss Army Major; on the half of Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission. Lee Soo Hyeok, the sergeant has confessed to shootings; Sophie has investigated why South Korea and North Korea have contradicted different events where he states that he has been kidnapped and knocked out while he relieves himself and getting tied up in the border house where he frees himself after shooting three soldiers out of which, two people left. The Oh Kyeong Pil, North Korean Sergeant survivor stating that the Soo Hyeok barges into the border house where you have shot everyone before retreating where Kyeong Pil returns fire.
#7 Breathless (2008): Breathless is a South Korean film, directed by Yang Ik June in 2008. The story revolves around the loan sharking and the child abuse. Sang Hoon, a loan shark wants to make a friendship with the troubled girl, Yeon Hee; as he faces his own past with a troubled and abusive father. Breathless has won the 2009 Grand Prize at the Tokyo Filmex, the Silver Screen Award at the Singapore International Film Festival 2009, the Tiger Prize at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, 2009; the Best New Actor and the Best New Actress; at the 30th Blue Dragon Awards. Even with 100,000 admissions in South Korea. Sang Hoon is a violent gangster and is extremely foul-mouthed, where you work for an illegal money lending organization run by Man Shik, the loan shark, and the longtime friend. He is seen attacking the protestors who disrupt the construction work along with other people of the organization. Sang Hoon, has Hyung-in, a nephew whom he admires. His sister also cares about the nephew, inviting him to the dinner. Even with both of these being on the less friendly terms; he avoids her. It is also revealed that while he was a kid, his father once had a feud with the mother and accidentally stabbed his sister. The plot follows.
#8 Mother! (2009): Mother! has been one of the prominent South Korean films which stood out as the best release in the year 2009. Directed by the infamous Bong Joon Ho, it stars Won Bin and Kim Hye Ja. The plot of the movie revolves around a widow who lives alone with the son, who sells medical herbs in a smaller town of South Korea. This woman is known for conducting the acupuncture in the town without any license along with her son. The son is shy, but, however, is extremely prone to the people who tease his intellectual disability. She dotes on him and abuses him for hanging often out with Jin-the with a locality. While the situations are going this way, a school girl gets discovered from the dead rooftop on the town and this incident shocks all the residents and pressurizes the police to identify the killer for them. By finding the circumstantial evidence, Do Joon is found to be related to the crime scene and thus, gets arrested. The defense attorney is indeed unreliable and the police trick the innocent Do Joon to confess, leaving him for a long-term sentence. But the underlying question is why would the victim display the dead body on the rooftop for everyone to watch? The unconvinced and the horrified mother doesn’t believe that Do Joon can actually murder and thus gets involved in unleashing the details of the victim, the murder and the background in order to prove the innocence of her son. In the process, she uncovers many details about the girl’s life, in alignment with Jin tae, sympathetic towards the plight leading to unsettlement in the town.
#9 Lady Vengeance (2005): Lady Vengeance is a psychological thriller, filmed in 2005, in South Korea. The movie is directed by Park Chan Wook and is indeed the third installment in the Trilogy of ‘The Vengeance’ followed by the Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) and the Oldboy (2003). The movie stars Lee Young-ae playing the role of Lee Geum-Ja, as women from the prison who serves the murder sentence that she hasn’t committed. The film narrates the revenge story of her in the search of the real murderer. The film has been nominated for the Golden Lion Best Film at the 62nd Venice International Film Festival, 2005. It also won the Best Film award at the 26th Blue Dragon Film Awards, 2005. The film also had the U.S Premiere at the New York Film Festival, 2005. When it comes to the plot, Christian musical waits for the tofu block outside the prison where Lee Geum Ja who is getting released from the prison. Convicted of murdering a 5-year-old kid after kidnapping him, Geum Jaa has been punished for murdering Won-mo, around 13 years earlier. The incident has taken the national limelight because of Geum Ja’s young appearance, the angelic outlook, and the eager confession of the crime. She has become an inspiration for the prisoners during her time of incarceration and her spiritual transformation in the prison which has successfully earned her, an early release. Geum Ja exhibits the kind behavior in the prison in order to intricate her revenge plans. She calls in favors and stars working in the pastry shop while she goes on her revenge plans.
#10 The King of Pigs (2011): The King of Pigs is a Korean animated film which is based on the manga, have written by Yeon Sang-ho. It has won around three awards at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival and also got screened in the Fortnight section at the Cannes Film Festival, 2012. One main trait of the film is that all the events of the film are actually based on the actual events which happened and got depicted in the minute details. After the business going bankrupt, Kyung Min kills his wife out of his anger, in an impulsive tone. To hide his anger, he seeks help from this former schoolmate Jon Suk, who actually works as a ghostwriter for an autobiography but has the dreams of writing his own novel. For the first time that they have met in the 15 years, Jong Suk and Kyung Min have hidden the current situation and tries to have a conversation about the middle school days. At the school, all the students were classified by the grades and the wealth and both of them were at the bottom, and are called ‘pigs’. When they are called pigs, they became angry as they couldn’t find the dogs. Then the king of pigs, Kim Chil appears and the plot follows.
That being said, the Korean movies are known better for the storytelling and you should definitely go through these given your film enthusiasm.