EditorialsExploring the Best of Korean Cinema: 10 Must-See Films

Exploring the Best of Korean Cinema: 10 Must-See Films

Written by Matt Nelson & Likewise Pix | May 30, 2024

The world of Korean cinema is a treasure trove of compelling stories, breathtaking visuals, and groundbreaking narratives. From heartfelt dramas to jaw-dropping thrillers, South Korea's film industry offers a diverse array of films that captivate audiences worldwide. Here, we explore ten of the most exceptional Korean movies that you simply cannot miss.

Korean Movies Collection
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1. Past Lives

Past Lives
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Past Lives tells the poignant story of Nora and Hae Sung, two childhood friends who reunite in New York for a week filled with deep reflections on destiny, love, and life choices. This 2023 release, with an average rating of 4.3, masterfully explores the emotional gravity of reconnecting with someone who shaped your formative years.

2. Memories of Murder

Memories of Murder
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Directed by Bong Joon-ho, Memories of Murder follows two detectives attempting to solve South Korea’s first series of rape and murder cases in the late 1980s. This gripping 2003 thriller, based on real events, boasts an average rating of 4.2 and meticulously depicts the frustrations and challenges of the investigation.Read more

3. Parasite

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Bong Joon-ho strikes again with the critically acclaimed Parasite, a 2019 film exploring the intricate dynamics between the struggling Ki-taek family and the affluent Park family. With an average rating of 4.1, this Oscar-winning masterpiece offers profound social commentary wrapped in suspense and dark humor.Read more

4. Train to Busan

Train to Busan
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Zombies on a high-speed train? That’s the premise of the intense 2016 film Train to Busan. As a zombie virus ravages Korea, passengers on the KTX train to Busan must fight for their lives. With an average rating of 4.0, this action-packed thriller keeps audiences on the edge of their seats.Read more

5. The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden
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The Handmaiden, set in 1930s Korea, presents a tantalizing tale of deception and seduction. Directed by Park Chan-wook, this 2016 film follows a swindler and a woman posing as a handmaiden to con a Japanese heiress. With an average rating of 4.0, it’s a visually stunning and intricately plotted masterpiece.Read more

6. Burning

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Burning, a 2018 drama with an average rating of 3.9, delves into themes of jealousy and obsession. An aspiring writer, disheartened upon seeing his high school friend return from Africa with another man, embarks on a quest that spirals into unsettling territory. Director Lee Chang-dong crafts a slow-burn narrative filled with tension and ambiguity.Read more

7. A Taxi Driver

A Taxi Driver
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A Taxi Driver, based on true events, takes us to May 1980, with taxi driver Man-seob unknowingly assisting a German journalist covering the Gwangju Uprising. This 2017 film, directed by Jang Hoon, features a powerful performance by Song Kang-ho and has an average rating of 3.9.Read more

8. The Host

The Host
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Bong Joon-ho’s 2006 monster movie, The Host, combines horror, drama, and political commentary. A mutated creature emerges from the Han River, capturing a teenage girl and prompting her family’s desperate search. With an average rating of 3.6, it’s a thrilling ride that deeply resonates with audiences.Read more

9. Rampant

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Step into ancient Korea with the 2018 historical action flick Rampant. The film follows Prince Lee Cheung as he returns home to battle an army of bloodthirsty monsters amidst political turmoil. Despite its average rating of 3.4, the movie offers a unique mix of swordplay and horror.Read more

10. Carter

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The 2022 action-packed thriller Carter takes audiences on a relentless chase as its protagonist, with no memories and a mysterious vice in his head, navigates through a deadly pandemic. With an average rating of 3.0, this adrenaline-fueled experience is not to be missed.Read more

In conclusion, Korean cinema offers a remarkable blend of genres and storytelling styles that appeal to a global audience. Whether you're in the mood for heart-wrenching drama, spine-chilling horror, or thrilling action, the films on this list provide an excellent starting point for exploring the rich tapestry of Korean film.

Discover these films and more through Likewise, your gateway to exceptional entertainment from around the world.