20 Best Korean Movies To Watch If You’re a Beginner

Korean movies are popular not only in Korea but also all around the world. The reason why people like Korean movies is because they are realistic and they have a lot of meaning.

They make the best movies in the entire globe. Their films’ originality, intricacy, and capacity to cross a wide range of genres give them a distinctive identity.

Except for horror films, almost all American films have pleasant or “satisfying” endings. In contrast, Korean movies frequently have unexpected or ambiguous endings.

 While American films typically focus on the main plot, Korean films concentrate on character development.

1. Oldboy (2003)

Dae-Su, a noisy drinker, was taken hostage on a snowy in a strange hotel room with no windows on a night in 1988.

Oh, Dae-invisible Su’s captors keep him behind locks for an unknown reason, feeding him drugged to prevent suicide and only offering a tv to keep him happy.

After being held captive for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is finally free and confused.

Now, Oh Dae-Su is encouraged to find the perpetrators of the enigmatic kidnapping and exact his harsh, vengeful retribution on the tormentor by his ruthless captors.

But if they despised Oh Dae-Su so much, who would prevent him from dying quickly and painlessly?

Where to watch – Prime Video

2. My Sassy Girl (2001)

A 2001 South Korean love comedy, My Sassy Girl, starring Jun Ji-Hyun and Cha Tae-Hyun.

The movie tells the tale of a university professor who falls in love with a sassy girl who is his childhood friend.

The movie starts with an introduction of our protagonist, Shi Won (Jun Ji-Hyun), a college student majoring in music and living in the countryside of South Korea.

When she was young, her mother and father passed away; he remarried a woman from Seoul and moved there to pursue his architectural career.

Shi Won always felt like her stepmother treated her like one of her children, but she still doesn’t feel like part of the family because they’re so different.

She also has an older brother whom she’s never met because he’s studying abroad in America. One day he returns home for vacation with his American girlfriend Julie (Karen Mok), and the story continues in authentic Korean style.

Where to watch – Google Play

3. Woman of Fire (1971)

A woman is on a quest to find her true self and identity.

She starts as a child who her father abuses. She then becomes a wife who has to deal with an overbearing husband, and finally, she becomes a mother who has to take care of her children.

The film explores the different stages of womanhood through the experiences of this one woman.

It also highlights how difficult it can be for women in these different stages of their lives, especially when they are trying to balance their family life with their desires and ambitions.

Where to watch – Tubi

4.  Friend (2001)

Friend (2001) is a film written and directed by Andrew Niccol. It is set in a future where the earth’s population has reached unsustainable levels, and people can only live one day per year.

The world is divided into sectors, each controlled by a different company. One of these companies, which holds Sector 45, has developed an experimental drug called “The Friend.”

The film follows two friends living in Sector 45, trying to learn more about this drug and what it can do for them.

Where to watch – Netflix

5. The Housemaid (1960)

The Housemaid (1960) is a film about a Korean housemaid who becomes pregnant after being seduced by her employer and kills him.

The film opens with the main character, Eun-Yi (played by Kim Jin-Kyung), as she waits to be interviewed for her new job. It’s soon revealed that she is a Korean housemaid who has worked for the family of a man named Mr. Kang (played by Park Ki-young) for three years.

Eun-Yi is shown entering the Kang household, where she greets her employers and their son, Tae-Ju (played by Park Dong-hoon). She then prepares dinner with the other maids for Mr. Kang’s homecoming from work.

After dinner preparations are complete, Eun-Yi sleeps in one of the rooms designated for the housemaids while Tae Ju goes off to play baseball with his friends.

Where to watch – Amazon prime

6. Chilsu and Mansu (1988)

Chilsu and Mansu is a 1988 Soviet Korean film that tells the story of two Korean teenagers living in Moscow and dreaming of going to America.

The film starts with Chilsu, a 15-year-old boy living in Moscow for nine years, playing basketball with his friend in their apartment complex.

He returns home to find his mother packing their belongings because they have just received news that they are being deported back to Korea.

They are given 24 hours to leave and cannot take any personal items. Chilsu decides to stay in Moscow because he feels like he has a future there, while his mother wants him to return with her so he won’t be alone.

The next day, Chilsu’s mom drops him off at the airport, where she says goodbye and leaves before he boards the plane.

He arrives at Seoul airport, where his aunt picks him up from the airport and brings him home.

Where to watch – Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Peacock

7. Burning (2018)

Burning is a 2018 Lee’s South Korean mystery-thriller movie Chang-dong. It is based on the novel Burning, written by Haruki Murakami.

The movie is about a young Korean man called Jong-Su, who becomes involved with an older woman from his town, Hae-mi. They have a brief affair, and then Hae-mi disappears

without warning. Jong-SU’s best friend, Haemi, tells him she has gone to Africa to volunteer as an aid worker and will return in six months.

Jong-us can’t get over his obsession with Hae-mi and starts investigating her disappearance, which leads him into a dark world of crime and exploitation on the outskirts of Seoul.

Where to watch – Disney plus

8. Sunny (2011)

This Korean movie tells the story of a woman in prison for 15 years.

The movie begins with Sunny, a woman in prison for 15 years and now on parole.

She is taken to her new home, where she must stay for the next three months. The house is near the sea and Sunny loves it.

Her new boss, Jung-woo, takes her to work and introduces her to her co-workers. One day, she meets Jin-sung, a man who was imprisoned with her 15 years ago but had been released after ten years.

Together, they eat dinner and discuss their lives in prison and how they are now trying to live as ordinary people again.

Sunny’s boss Jung-woo falls in love with Sunny, but she rejects him because she doesn’t want to be hurt again by another man. He decides not to pursue his feelings any further, but he can’t stop thinking about Sunny.

Where to watch – Netflix

9.Train to Busan (2016)

A 2016 South Korean film called Train to Busan was a zombie horror film directed by Yeon Sang-ho.

The film’s narrative centers on a father and daughter among individuals traveling by rail from Seoul to Busan, where they hope to find refuge from the zombie apocalypse that has beset the country.

The movie starts with the protagonist, Seok-woo, living in Seoul and working as an office worker. He’s married and has a daughter named Soo-Ahn.

One day he gets fired from his job and moves with his family to Busan for better prospects.

On their way there, they encounter zombies, which force them onto a train heading for Busan instead of their car, which zombies have overrun.

The train becomes crowded with more people as it travels along its route, picking up survivors fleeing from other parts of Korea where there have been outbreaks of zombies.

Where to watch – Disney plus

10. The Man From Nowhere (2010)

The Man From Nowhere (2010) is a Korean movie directed by Lee Jeong-beom

It is about a man who saves a young girl from being kidnapped and then proceeds to help her find her mother.

The Man From Nowhere (2010) is not your typical Korean movie but has some distinct Korean drama moments. The film has an exciting plot and good acting.

Where to watch – FuboTV, Mubi, Mubi Amazon Channel, Rakuten Viki, Hi-YAH

11. The Handmaiden (2016)

The year 2016 South Korean erotica film The Handmaiden was a thriller film about a con artist and pickpocket who becomes the handmaiden to a Japanese heiress.

The Handmaiden is an erotic thriller set in 1930s Korea under Japanese occupation.

The film tells the story of Sook-hee, a pickpocket and con artist from the slums of Seoul, who is hired as a handmaid to Lady Hideko, an heiress living in isolation with her uncle in their sprawling country estate.

But Sook-hee isn’t just tasked with caring for Hideko–she’s also expected to report back to her master any information that she might learn about the family’s secrets. And so begins this subtle game of cat and mouse, where one wrong move could lead to death.

Where to watch – Netflix

12. Christmas in August (1998)

Christmas in August is a story of a family from Korea who moves to America.

The family’s father works hard and neglects his wife and children. He has a collision one day and is injured and loses his job. The mother has to work as a waitress at a restaurant to support her family.

The director of this movie is Lee Joon-Ik. He is one of the most famous directors in Korea, with many well-known films such as King and the Clown, The Throne, and Silenced, to name a few.

This movie was released on December 16th, 1998, two months before Christmas Day 1998.

Where to watch – Hooq Netflix, Hotstar

13. Peppermint Candy(1999)

Peppermint Candy is a Korean movie that revolves around the lives of a group of people in their twenties.

The story starts with the main character, Jeon Soo-jin, a writer who recently ended her relationship with her longtime partner.

She meets Jung Joon-young, an old friend from high school, and they become friends again. They share their experiences of moving on from past relationships and finding new love.

The story follows Soo-jin’s best friend, Kim Yeon-Joo, as she moves in with her new boyfriend, Jinwoo.

Yeon-Joo’s relationship quickly becomes abusive, and she eventually returns to her ex after Jinwoo becomes violent towards her for no reason.

Yeon-Joo tries to make it work but eventually gets fed up with Jinwoo’s controlling behavior and leaves him for good.

Where to watch – Netflix, Hotstar, Hooq

14. A Taxi Driver(2018)

This film is about a taxi driver who tries to save his daughter from the dangers of city life.

The film introduces Han Gang-Soo (Yoo Ah-In), an ex-cop-turned-taxi driver who takes care of his daughter Soo-Jin (Kim Tae-Hee) while trying to make ends meet in Seoul.

His daughter has been expelled from school for fighting, and he must now find her a new one that will take her in. He then meets Jin-Ho (Kim Hyeon-Kyeong), who offers him a way out by giving him money to pay for Soo Jin’s tuition at a private school.

Gang-Soo takes on this offer but soon finds out that Jin Ho has ulterior motives for wanting. The director and writer of the movie are Jang Hoon.

Where to watch – Paramount Plus, Spectrum TV, The Roku Channel

15. Parasite (2019)

Parasite (2019)is a scary movie that tells the tale of a family trying to survive the zombie apocalypse.

The movie starts with the father, Seok-woo, at his desk when a call comes in from his daughter, Ji-young.

She informs him she and their mother have been attacked by zombies trapped in their apartment.

Where to watch – Disney Plus

16.  Mother (2018)

He also wrote mother, a 2018 South Korean drama film, and Bong Joon-ho. The film stars Kim Hye-Ja, Do Kyungsoo, Jeon Jong Seo, and Choi Woo-shik.

Mother is a story of a mother who risks her life to save her son from the cold hands of death.

Where to watch – Hulu, Disney Plus, ESPN Plus

17. I Saw the Devil (2010)

The movie is about a detective who has to hunt down a serial killer.

The movie starts with the protagonist, Soo-Hyun, in a car accident on his way to meet his girlfriend. He wakes up in the hospital and finds out that she has died.

The film then flashes back six months ago, when he meets her at the start of their relationship. After that, it goes back to the present day, and Soo-Hyun tries to find out who killed her.

Throughout the film, he realizes that more than one person is responsible for her death, and he becomes obsessed with finding them all and killing them.

Where to watch – Hulu, Disney Plus, ESPN Plus

18. Along with the gods – The two worlds (2017)

It is a South Korean movie based on the webtoon of the same name.

The movie starts with an image of a man about to be hanged for his sins. He pleads for forgiveness and promises to change his ways if given another chance.

He then wakes up from what he thought was a nightmare, but it turns out that it wasn’t just a dream at all as he finds himself in front of the gates of hell after dying from being hanged.

He then meets three guardians who tell him they will help him find his way back to earth and reincarnate as one of three humans: an average person, a nobleman, or an elite warrior.

This movie has been well-received by audiences and critics alike for its exciting plot and cinematography. Still, some parts could be more transparent because they could be explained more rationally.

Where to watch – Freevee, Plex – Free Movies & TV, The Roku Channel, Prime Video, Vudu or Apple TV

19. Minari (2020)

Minari is a Korean movie that tells the story of a girl who has to grow up quickly to take care of her family.

Minari is a Korean movie that tells the story of a girl who has to grow up quickly to take care of her family.

The film starts with Minari, an 11-year-old girl, waking up and looking for her mom. It turns out that her father and mother have abandoned her. She has no choice but to live alone in their home until she is 17.

The movie portrays Minari as an innocent child unsure of how to handle adulthood and responsibility. She is also a strong woman who can hold on until the end without giving up hope for herself or others.

Where to watch – Paramount Plus, The Roku Channel, Spectrum TV, Showtime Anytime, SHOWTIME, Redbox

20. A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

The film is about two sisters who are not close to each other.

They are so different that they have entirely different lifestyles. One sister is a successful and ambitious executive, while the other is a housewife with no ambition.

The story starts when the eldest sister has a car accident and loses consciousness.

The youngest sister then takes care of her, and they start to learn more about each other, their relationship, and their past.

Where to watch – Netflix

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