The Korean movie industry has been consistently growing over the past few years and it continues to enjoy tremendous popularity. That’s mainly thanks to incredible plots and crazy action sequences, which are quite unique in universal cinema.
Korean flicks have already made a huge impact on audiences in East Asia, who are proud of their culture and always eager to see more of their life depicted on the big screen. The industry incorporates all sorts of genres, from comedy to tragedy and romance. However, action thrillers are usually what earn the big bucks. Even so, this wide variety has given fans the freedom to watch their favorite genre with ease, whether in theatres or on streaming services.
As it usually goes, not all Korean movies make for a memorable viewing experience, but select few have managed to win the hearts of movie buffs from all corners of the world. If you’d like to jump on the bandwagon, we’ve gathered the top 7 Korean movies you can watch in 2019 below.
Whether you’re completely new to Korean cinema or are looking to spice up your watch list, you can’t go wrong with any of these picks.
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7. Train to Busan
A memorable zombie apocalypse thriller, Train to Busan somehow manages to make all the tropes of the genre feel fresh, leaving fans mesmerized and wanting more. Released in 2016, the movie takes place as passengers struggle to survive on the train ride of a lifetime after the zombie virus suddenly starts spreading around. Needless to say, things don’t go as smoothly as one may hope.
The cast features Gong Yoo, Kim Su-an, and Jung Yu-mi, among others. Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, Train to Busan is a terrific combo of riveting action and thoughtful social commentary, making it one of the most thought-provoking action flicks around. Probably why the movie enjoyed a very successful box office run, both in South Korea and internationally.
6. The Long Way Home
The Long Way Home is one of the movies that have garnered fans not only all across Asia, but in plenty of other markets as well. After its release, the movie had a good reception from fans, enjoying critical acclaim as well. It was shot between September 5, 2014 and January 4, 2015 in the Yangju, Gyeonggi province in South Korea.
The cast includes Sol Kyung Gu, Jung In Gi, Lee Kyung Young, and Jung Suk Won, among other famous Korean actors. The plot is based on the Korean War in 1953, when South and North Korean soldiers were engaged in battle. However, as things progress, soldiers from opposite sides start to work together in order to survive. If you love war movies, make sure to check this one out!
5. The Throne
The Throne is directed by Lee Joon-ik and follows the life of Crown Prince Sado. He is heir to the throne, but is deemed unfit for the kingship. As a result, his father sentences him to death and locks him in a rice chest for eight days. A tragic historical drama, the movie was selected as the South Korean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 88th Academy Awards.
The cast includes Song-Ka-Ho as King Yeongjo, Yoo Ah-in as Sado, Moon Geun-Young as Sado’s wife, Kim Hae-Sook as Queen Inwon, and Jeon Hye-jin as Youngbin Lee. If you enjoy history and period flicks, you should definitely give this one a watch.
Assassination is one the greatest Korean movies of all time thanks to its captivating plot. The movie is set in the 1930’s, when Korea was under Japanese occupation. This turned many Koreans into resistant activists, forcing them to run away from Japanese authorities and hide in China.
In 1933, a plan is put together by the activists to assassinate the Japanese army commander. The role is given to sniper Gianna Jun, because of her strong desire to see Korea as an independent country. Lee Jung-Lae is the agent from internal government, who plans and gives orders to Gianna Jun’s group. The contract killer for this assassination group is Ha Jung –Woo.
Filming started in August 2014 in Shanghai and was finished in January in Korea. Assassination is currently the eighth-highest-grossing movie in Korean film history, which should be reason enough for it to catch your eye.
Veteran is directed by Ryoo Seung-Wan, one of most talented Korean filmmakers to emerge in recent years. The movie is about a detective (Hwang Jung-Min) who pursues a man born into an incredibly rich family, who runs a large conglomeration. Too bad he’s also involved in some not-so-legal activity behind the scenes.
Filming for Veteran kicked off on March 16, 2014 and was completed on June 30, 2014 in Cheongju, in South Korea. The cast includes Hwang Jung-min as detective Seo Do-Cheol, Yoo Ah-In as Jo Tae-Oh, Oh Dal-Su as Team Leader Oh, and Jeong Man-Sik as Manager Jeon. Packed with edge-of-your-seat action sequences, Veteran is a treat for any thriller fan.
2. The Wailing
A commercial and critical success, The Wailing (Gokseong) is directed by Na Hong-jin, also known for The Chaser (2008) and Yellow Sea (2010). These two movies enabled him to establish a name for himself in the Korean industry and introduced him to international audiences as well.
The Waiting is a supernatural mystery which takes place in a village where a detective (Kwak Do-won) and a shaman (Hwang Jung-min) team up to investigate a series of unexplained killings and illnesses. Atmospheric and unsettling, this one is not recommended for the faint of heart.
1. Gangnam Blues
When it comes to action flicks, it doesn’t get better than this. Gangnam Blues is a noir film by Yoo Ha, similar to the 2006 hit A Dirty Carnival. It hit screens back in 2015 and, so far, the reception has been insane. The movie features two extremely popular Korean actors, Lee Min-ho and Kim Rae-won, which definitely contributed to the movie’s success.
The plot of Gangnam Blues involves a pair of childhood friends who become enemies after they are attacked by thugs. They enter a dangerous world and become entangled in the battle between political powers and criminal organizations.
The movie is set in the ‘70s, during the real estate development of Seoul’s Gangnam district. Clocking at 135 minutes, Gangnam Blues is a bona fide saga, showcasing everything great that Korean cinema has to offer.