Top 20 Best Korean Movies / Films of All Time (Up to 2017)
From time to time, K-Movie aka Korean films are increasingly in demand from movie lovers from all over the world. The indications are clear, the films from the Ginseng Country are often imported to various countries and able to record a huge box office income in the country. The variety of Korean films is so vast, not just about the theme of romance or teenagers. Now, more and more fantasy movie genre, action, horror, criminal, and neo-noir are getting in circulation.
Also read : Netflix 20 Best Korean Movies Right Now (2018)
In addition to having an exciting television show, South Korea is trying their best in producing the best movies with original stories. For Asia region itself, South Korea is a country with advanced film production in india and china where the film production always consistently try to make high quality cinematography works so that is internationally recognized.
Our list will discuss some of the films that are touted as the best Korean film of all time and have got positive reviews both in terms of story, acting and film-making techniques. This best Korean film information can be an insight enhancer for you especially for fans of quality movies and Korean culture enthusiasts.
Enjoy the list!
Starting of our list, we are kicking off with the most anticipated movie in 2017. One of Korea’s long-awaited movies is Real, featuring Kim Soo-hyun and Sulli and Sung Dong-il, Lee Sung-min, and Jo Woo-jin. Real tells of a city that briefly walks normally, but is actually controlled from a cruel underground world. Jang Tae-yeong is a reliable man in dealing with black business and able to handle various requests. But things began to change when he met a former detective reporter named No Yeom.
Also read : 20 Best Korean Dramas of All Time (Up To 2017)
It’s not just another mafia style movie with protagonist that turned good from bad, it’s more complicated and the revelation was quite satisfying for some audience *not for me*.
Let’s get started!
The Attorney (2014)
The 127-minute feature film was able to gain up to 82 billion won and become the second best-selling film in 2014. The Attorney was inspired from the 1981 Burim case, which is about the arrest of a number of students and teachers accused of being North Korean sympathizers by an authoritarian government. The film itself features the figure of Song Woo-suk, a tax law specialist lawyer. The only reason he wanted to become a lawyer was because of the money. Once upon a time, he saw many of the abuses, intimidation and frauds that occurred in Korean legal institutions. Woo-suk then decides to become a defender for those who are oppressed by the law.
Inside Men (2015)
Adapted from a webtoon, this political thriller gets R rating and is able to break some box office records when it was first released. Inside Men tells the story of Ahn Sang-goo, a political stooge who is a supporter of congressman Jang Pil-woo who is running as a presidential candidate. Pil-woo is backed by Lee Kang-hee who has the power of the press. But Sang-goo’s carelessness causes a secret record between Pil-woo and Kang-hee uncovered, making him severely punished. Sang-goo then wanted to take revenge for all the ill-treatment he receives, and on the other hand there is an ambitious prosecutor who investigates their relationship.
This is the kind of movie that are a bit long but the experience was worth it, the story was exponentially growth on you especially if you are interested in politics.
The Wailing (2016)
Korean horror film has a unique story plot and not so typical cinematography, just like this exceptional movie, The Wailing. Through this film we are invited to participate in “thinking” and trying to solve the criminal cases that have element of horror.
The story centers on a village where all the inhabitants know each other. However, there is a young incomer in this village who likes to be alone and mysterious. Shortly after the young man’s arrival, the villagers were struck by a strange epidemic.
The police claimed that the outbreak was caused by a wild mushroom, but the villagers suspected that the youths were the ones who caused the outbreak of the disease. A policeman who leads the investigation, Jong-goo, initially did not believe until one day his daughter acted strangely and experienced the disease. Inevitably Jong-goo reopened the case and suspected the young incomer.
My Sassy Girl (2001)
My Sassy Girl is often referred to as the best Korean romantic comedy in modern times. Directed by Kwak Jae-yong, the film is inspired by a series of online blog posts written by a young man named Kim Ho-sik, describing his relationship with a girl who has a ‘coquettish’ personality. The film presents Cha Tae-hyun as Kyun-woo, a student who is known as a tender heart and a bookworm, who is stuck in a romantic, silly and funny relationship. His cute girlfriend is played by Jyun Ji-Hyun. The film became Korea’s highest-earning romantic comedy at the time of its launch, and is also categorized as one of the greatest films ever made in Asia. It was so success with Asian market that Hollywood created their own version of this movie.
Battleship Island (2017)
The film received wide coverage following Song Joong-ki’s casting in the peak of his career. The cast is also high level actor and actress, such as Hwang Jung-min, So Ji-sub, and Lee Jung-hyun. Set in the period of Japanese occupation, the film photographed the efforts of prisoners to escape from labor camps on Hashima Island, where they were forced to work there. Carrying a giant budget of 21 million US dollars, the film was released on July 26, 2017 is expected to explode at the box office.
It was splendid experience, the movie was a pleasant from start to the end, cinematography wise it’s also very good, the plot is also thick with resource material.
The Admiral: Roaring Currents (2014)
the movie that currently occupies the top spot as the best-selling Korean film of all time is The Admiral: Roaring Currents. Film director Kim Han-min’s film also became the first successful Korean film to penetrate the profit of more than 100 million US dollars. The film depicts the story of the Battle of Myeongnyang, which is thought to have taken place in 1597, which became the greatest achievement of the legendary Rear Admiral Joseon, Yi Sun-sin. Under his command, the remaining 12 ships advanced to the battle arena and heroically attacked the Japanese fleet of 330 ships.
The film is very famous in South Korea, because of the accuracy of the story, and the figure of the Admiral itself, but perhaps for an international audience, this story can be a rather typical story. Good movie tho ..
The war themed film was released in 2003 and is based on the true story of Unit 684, although its description is extrapolated because the details of events were never known to public. The story, after North Korean forces conducted an attempted murder of South Korean President Park Chung-hee, South Korea took revenge by forming a team of 31 inmates waiting for their death penalty. Their goal is to kill Kim Il-sung, leader of North Korea at that time. The team was named Unit 684. But their mission was suddenly canceled and frustration began to crawl them. What will the members of Unit 684 do next?
Explosion of feeling in a strange situation and rather doesn’t involve pity or sad situation is the magic that this movie is perfectly presenting for the audience.
The King (2016)
Featuring a duet of top actors Jo In-sung and Jung Woo-sung, Han Jae-rim’s movie tells a man named Tae-soo who was born from a poor family. He then decided to become a prosecutor because he realized that power is the most important thing in life. After graduating from law college, Tae-soo can only work as an ordinary office employee. But fate leads him to join the rich and powerful prosecutor group, which will change his life, like really change his life.
I am quite invested in how political change can impact one people life and maybe huge amount of people, this movie in a way give us audience a glimpse into the pit dark condition of reality about today’s politic.
The Last Princess (2013)
The film features Son Ye-jin as Princess Deokhye, the last daughter of the Joseon Dynasty. Under Japanese occupation, she was held hostage in Japan since the age of 13 years old. She then married a Japanese nobleman at the age of 19. But Deokhye never forgets her native country. An officer from the Korean rebel group was assigned to take Princess Deokhye home. and there the story start.
I was astonished by the quality of acting and the effort of the film-maker to create an ambiance that resemble the condition at that time. Perfect set and perfect acting, what else can we ask for !?
The film was so triumphant in the 49th Grand Bell event by sweeping 15 awards, ranging from Best Movie, Best Director, to Best Actor. The film tells of King Gwanghae, the 15th ruler of the Joseon Dynasty known as a conspirator figure. He sent Heo Gyun’s defense minister to find someone who resembled him as a ‘double’ to avoid the constant threat of murder. Heo Gyun finally finds Ha-sun, a lowly acrobatic player who is very similar to the king. And Ha-sun’s funny story of portraying the king of Gwanghae also begins when the king is suddenly poisoned by someone.
The story line is quite straight but that’s the charm of the movie. The impact came when the audience thought the story will be plain boring.
Miracle in Cell No. 7 (2013)
This is the best father-son movie I’ve ever seen.
The story of Lee Yong Goo, a man with mental retardation, lives with Ye Seung, his 6-year-old daughter. They must be separated because of the papa was forced into jail, after being accused of killing a child.
In addition to it’s ending that will make tear flooding from your eyes, this Korean film is also one that successfully make your stomach hurt due to several comedic ingredients on the side of the main plot store. Especially when the scene was about Yong Goo’s life in prison cell number 7 along with 5 other prisoners.
Not only taking the the box office by the storm, this film also managed to win many awards from various film appreciation events. The veteran features Hwang Jung-min as a detective named Seo Do-cheol. He is so idealistic and uncompromising when dealing with crime cases. One time Do-cheol handled a big case involving a millionaire named Jo Tae-oh (Yo Ah-in). He is a member of a very strong conglomerate family in Korea. Various conspiracies do, but Do-cheol and his team keep trying without giving up to uncover all the rottenness. But Tae-oh is very slick because he has wealth and connections.
The Host (2006)
The Host had occupied the top position as the best-selling Korean films of all time when it was released in 2006. This monster-themed film was named the Best Movie in the Blue Dragon Film Awards and Asian Film Awards. On the Han River that flows in the heart of Seoul, hiding a beast that is not realized by the public. At that time, in 2000, people were busy with World Cup preparations, presidential elections, and their personal lives. Until at one time the monster began to appear and stir the entire city. In an instant, the beautiful Han River turns into a waters full of blood.
Well, the CGI was one of the best in the long list of South Korean film, the story was also quite original and intermezzo-ing between character in the movies. To wrap it simply, it’s not just about the monster – it’s about the moment in life.
Train To Busan (2016)
Train to Busan proves that Korean Movie Industry does not only hinge on K-Drama alone to become popular in the world, Korean horror-thriller genre can be in demand by people all over the world. The film tells of the zombie involving the main character, Seok-Woo who plans to go to Busan with his daughter, Su-An, by riding on KTX (South Korean hyper fast train).
One of the train passengers was infected and turned into a zombie. Since then, most of the train passengers have become zombies. Seok-Woo must protect his daughter and himself in the midst of passenger train that has become a zombie. Not to mention the station was already infected by this zombie outbreak. They have to survive to get to Busan, the only place that is free from zombie virus infection.
Operation Chromite is a war drama film that also features Hollywood action star Liam Neeson. Inspired by the real event, the Battle of Inchon, the film tells the story US General Douglas MacArthur and eight South Korean soldiers under Captain Jang Hak-soo’s secret mission, X-Ray. This operation must succeed in order to conduct Incheon Landing Operations.
The spirit of the story is hugely preserve throughout the run time, it’s hard not to milk away such huge star and put the spotlight on him, but NO. This movie took care of the plot of story in a manner of respecting the event without straying too far from the history. I love how the impact of Liam Neeson is keep in perpendicular to the story line.
I Saw The Devil (2010)
I Saw The Devil is a movie by Kim Ji-woon and starring veteran actor Choi Min-sik and Lee Byung-hun. The film is filled with brutal scenes and super sadistic reel that led to the process of censorship had to cut many scenes in order to be granted the censorship and can be aired in the cinema in several countries. For those unfamiliar with the horror genre that is filled with gore scenes, you should not have to force yourself to watch this movie.
Themed retaliation, the premise of I Saw The Devil might sound pretty standard. But in the hands of Kim Ji Woon, I Saw The Devil changed from a gore film that was brutal and full of blood, into a sadistic movie with a stylish artistic touch. The dog-cat scene, but in a sadistic version that definitely makes you hard to sit-sweet when you watch this masterpiece.
Old Boy (2003)
This infamous super impactful work is one of two South Korean movies that made it into the Top 250 IMDb list. It was super good that the film was adapted by Hollywood film production to be remake. Well, though it was less successful anyway.
The film original title is Oldeuboi, it tells the story about a man who was confined in a stuffy room for 15 years, without knowing why. later he eventually was released. Dae-Su’s struggle to find out who’s behind his time behind the stuffy room and his plan to take revenge, brings the full story plot twist that makes you feel every emotion out there. Superb movie !
Ode to My Father (2014)
This Korean film took a background during the Korean war which technically has not ended until now. The film tells of a boy who was separated from his father and his sister when they were going to flee from their homes by boarding a US warship. Deok-soo, the boy, then grows up and becomes the backbone of the family, sticking to his promise to his father shortly before his separation, to always take care of his sister and mother.
For the sake of promise, for the sake of his mother, as well as his two younger siblings, Deok-soo must pass many struggle in his life. This film is one of the best family drama films. The ending ? Get ready, prepare another tissue to wipe the tears..
New World (2013)
New World 2013 is about a police investigation into the Korean crime organization “Goldmoon”. To be able to reveal about the various illegal business practices that exist in the Korean company, the police managed to penetrate a spy into the organization.
In uncovering such illegal practices the police also created a project called “New World” to investigate the Korean corporation “Gold Moon”. The interesting thing about this Korean mafia movie is from the end of the story which is super duper unexpected. For those who are interested with mafia type movies can consider to watch this very excellent crafted movie. The story plot is super perfect for me, the twist left no stone unturned.