The 25 Best South Korean Movies to Watch Online

The 25 Best South Korean Movies to Watch Online

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With hallyu, or the Korean pop culture wave, taking the world by storm thanks to global media phenomena like Parasite and Squid Game, South Korea has become an even greater premier destination for art and entertainment. Korean cinema and television has always been a popular export from the country, but now the trademarks of its movies and shows have become eminently recognizable. Be it their emotionally powerful romances and melodramas, their oddball comedies, or their vicious and violent thrillers, Korean filmmakers have found their own expressive language that resonates across all demographics.

And with the sea of Korean content available to us today, some of their great films might be buried under the algorithms. So here we’ve selected 10 movies to help keep your hallyu fixation fresh.

25. The Witch: Part 1 – The Subversion (2018)

7.0

Country

South Korea

Director

Park Hoon-jung

Actors

Cho Min-soo, Choi Jung-woo, Choi Woo-shik, Chung Ye-jin

Moods

Action-packed, Gripping, Intense

The Witch hardly reinvents the thriller wheel. In fact, part of the fun in watching it is calling out the cliches. Cold-blooded villain? Check. Antihero who defies death? Check. Senseless, bloody killings for minutes on end? Check, check, check. The Witch has everything you’d expect from an action movie, and yet, the viewing experience is all the better for it. 

By trimming all the unnecessary fat and zeroing in on the action, director Park Hoon-jung delivers a no-nonsense, no-holds-barred film that could hold a candle to the John Wick franchise. Like those films, the movements here are sharp and the gore relentless. The only difference is that The Witch is led by a teenage girl—seemingly flimsy but deliciously deranged, Kim-Dami is magnetic in her breakout role as the titular witch Ja-yoon. It’s also a bit like Stranger Things in that sense, but comparisons aside, The Witch stands out as a razor-edged entry into the genre. 

24. Happy Together (1997)

7.0

Country

Argentina, Hong Kong, Japan

Director

Kar-Wai Wong, Wong Kar-wai

Actors

Chang Chen, Chen Chang, Gregory Dayton, Law Shu-Kei

Moods

Romantic, Slice-of-Life

Happy Together is a beautifully devastating tale about a gay couple, portrayed by Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Leslie Cheun, who struggle with maintaining romance and fidelity in their relationship. Despite their efforts, they find the emotional distance growing between them, especially as they leave their home of Hong Kong for Buenos Aires.

Filmed and set in the late 1990s, Happy Together explored the depths of queer love in a way most films hadn’t. 

Since its release, it has touched the souls of many and caused tears to be shed. It serves as a reminder that love isn’t perfect, but it’s always worth the effort.

23. The Call (2020)

7.1

Country

South Korea, United States of America

Director

Lee Chung-hyun

Actors

EL, Jeon Jong-seo, Jo Kyung-sook, Jun Jong-seo

A woman loses her phone on her way back to her countryside childhood home. Once there, she connects an old landline in hopes of finding her lost mobile, only to start receiving weird calls that seem to be from 20 years ago.

On the other side of the receiver is a girl who seems to be in danger. The Call is thrilling, sometimes scary, but also brilliantly shot, and its plot is so expertly woven. It’s a proper movie-night movie.

22. Always (2011)

7.2

Country

South Korea

Director

Song Il-gon

Actors

Cho Seong-ha, Goo Seung-hyun, Han Hyo-joo, Jin Goo

Moods

Depressing, Emotional, Intense

Always follows the story of Jeong-hwa and Cheol-min, both very different individuals who are gentle in their own way. The story starts off by demonstrating how different the leads are in terms of their personality and their outlook on life. The plot can be a little predictable and cliche in some moments, but Always is not a complicated movie—though in addition to being a romance, it also includes some surprising violence that may intensify your viewing experience. Still, Always is about the two leads’ struggle against fate as they try to survive their tough situations, with strong chemistry between the lead actors from start to finish.

21. Juror 8 (2019)

7.2

Country

South Korea

Director

Hong Seung-wan

Actors

Baek Soo-jang, Cha Mi-kyeong, Cho Soo-hyang, Choi Ri

Moods

Character-driven, Dramatic, Grown-up Comedy

Based on the first jury trial in South Korea, Juror 8 tells the story of eight ordinary citizens with different backgrounds who are summoned to be the jurors of a case that’s believed to be a murder. These characters who have no background or knowledge in law find themselves able to decide someone’s fate. Unlike 12 Angry Men, Juror 8 delivers a lot of cunning and humorous dialogue between the characters. It’s a good mix between comedy and mystery.

20. I Saw the Devil (2010)

7.2

Country

Korea, South Korea

Director

Jee-Woon Kim, Kim Jee-woon

Actors

Byung-hun Lee, Cheon Ho-jin, Choi Jin-ho, Choi Min-sik

Moods

Thrilling

I Saw the Devil is a South Korean psychological thriller/horror film. IT IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART!!! It has a lot of blood and gore that could make even the strongest stomachs turn. A young woman is kidnapped from her car while waiting for a tow truck and the kidnapper murders her far from her car and scatters her body parts around. Her fiancé, a secret service agent of the National Intelligence Service, sets out to track down her murders and extract his revenge. If you’re looking for a thrill ride, look no further- but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

19. Microhabitat (2017)

7.4

Country

South Korea

Director

Female director, Jeon Go-woon

Actors

Ahn Jae-hong, Cho Soo-hyang, Choi Deok-moon, Esom

Moods

Character-driven, Depressing, Dramatic

Miso may be living day to day on her meager earnings as a cleaner, but she is decidedly content. She insists that all she needs to get by are cigarettes, whiskey, and time with her boyfriend, so when a spike in rent and prices invites her to reassess her priorities, she doesn’t budge. Instead of forgoing these luxuries, she gives up her tiny place and couch surfs with her old bandmates. What follows is a reunion of sorts, where darkly humorous epiphanies are had on both ends about adulthood, responsibilities, and what it really means to be happy in an increasingly indifferent, profit-oriented world.  

Microhabitat treads on very grave themes, and the images it conjures can be unsettling. But it is also surprisingly light on its feet, displaying sharp satire and sweet empathy for its unyielding protagonist. Miso is portrayed with a smartness and softness that evades rational judgment, and this endearment makes the story, especially the ending, all the more painfulul, poignant, and impactful.

18. The Wailing (2016)

7.5

Country

Korea, South Korea, United States of America

Director

Hong-jin Na, Na Hong-jin

Actors

Bae Yong-geun, Cho Han-cheul, Chun Woo-hee, Do-won Kwak

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Dramatic, Mind-blowing

In rural Korea a policeman starts to investigate peculiar and violent events that most of the people in his village attribute to the arrival of a new Japanese resident. As the occurrences keep multiplying, and different perspectives in the film are shown, you start to lose touch with reality in the face of what can only be described as genius film-making. As critic Jada Yuan puts it, the film operates on a level “that makes most American cinema seem clunky and unimaginative”. For this reason, and while The Wailing is a true horror flick with a great premise, it’s also more than just that: it boosts a mind-boggling, interesting plot that will have you thinking about it long after the credits roll. Protip: grab the person next to you and make them watch this movie with you so you can have someone to discuss it with after!

17. Twinsters (2015)

7.5

Country

France, Korea, South Korea

Director

Female director, Ryan Miyamoto

Actors

Anaïs Bordier, Kanoa Goo, Samantha Futerman

Moods

True-story-based

Twinsters is a documentary about a young Asian American actress, Samantha Futerman (also co-director), who is contacted over the internet by a young French-Asian woman, Anaïs Bordier, who has been shown a video of Samantha on the internet — and cannot believe their remarkably similar physical appearance. After initial perplexity and uncertainty, Samantha and Anaïs are soon embroiled in excited correspondence and travel to meet one another in their respective countries — eventually confirming via DNA testing that they are in fact long-lost twin sisters given up for adoption 25 years earlier in South Korea. A remarkable true story with a wonderfully beating heart, Twinsters does a lovely job of not just spelling out the amazing story of the sisters’ unlikely connection, but also finding and exploring the growing love and affection between both the two girls, as well as their extended families and groups of friends. A truly touching and humanistic film-viewing experience.

16. The World of Us (2016)

7.6

Country

South Korea

Director

Female director, Yoon Ga-eun

Actors

Choi Soo-in, Jang Hye-jin, Seol Hye-in

Moods

Discussion-sparking, Lighthearted, Lovely

The World of Us is a vibrant, colourful movie that follows the story of Lee Sun, a shy and sweet fifth grader who meets Ji Ah, a new girl in town. The movie is innocent, light and relatable, centered around two new friends playing in the summertime. But behind its vibrant colors, there is a very realistic commentary on how children can grow up to realise they are not of equal wealth and social status. The World of Us is not only about the fun of childhood, but also shows its bitterness. It perfectly captures the feeling of being left out by the ones who are supposed to be our friends. The movie shows that children can feel pain and jealousy toward others too, and it encapsulates the highs and lows of being young in the best way possible.

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