The 2020 Oscar-winning movie Parasite brought South Korea to the international forefront as a country producing exceptional content beyond its renowned dramas. However, many may not be aware of the impressive Korean movies that existed well before Parasite’s recognition, featuring brilliant content and exceptional performances. Some of the must-see Korean thrillers include The Handmaiden, Hope, Silenced, The Age of Shadows, and Mother, among others. These films are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat and leave a lasting impression.
1. MIDNIGHT (2021) – AMAZON PRIME VIDEO, YOUTUBE, GOOGLE PLAY MOVIES, APPLE TV
This gripping and action-packed crime thriller follows the story of a deaf sign language counselor, Kim Kyung-mi (Jin Ki-Joo), who becomes embroiled in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with a notorious serial killer named Do-shik (Wi Ha-Joon). After witnessing Do-shik brutally stab a former Marine Corps officer’s younger sister, Kyung-mi becomes his new target. As she fights for survival, her deaf mother joins the chase to keep her safe, while the victim’s brother, Jong Tak, also seeks revenge against Do-shik. Meanwhile, the police are on the hunt for the elusive serial killer, adding to the tension and anticipation of the movie. With its fast-paced plot and engaging characters, this movie is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
2. TRAIN TO BUSAN – AMAZON PRIME VIDEO, MX PLAYER, YOUTUBE
Whether you prefer the Korean original or the dubbed Hindi version, this movie is a must-watch for all zombie movie enthusiasts. Starring Gong Yoo from Hallyu and Squid Game fame, along with other popular South Korean actors such as Ma Dong-Seok, Choi Woo-Shik, Jung Yu-mi, Jang Hyuk-jin, and Sohee, the story follows a group of passengers aboard a train bound for Busan who become trapped in the midst of a zombie outbreak. The surviving passengers band together in a desperate attempt to reach safety without being infected. This heart-wrenching and nerve-wracking survival thriller will have you on the edge of your seat as you witness the characters’ perilous journey.
3. I SAW THE DEVIL – AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
When two veteran actors, Choi Min-Sik from Oldboy and Lee Byung-hun from Joint Security Area, take center stage in a drama, you know you’re in for an intense and thrilling ride. In this revenge thriller, Choi Min-Sik portrays Jang Kyung-chul, a serial killer, while Lee Byung-hun plays Kim Soo-Hyun, a National Intelligence Service agent. Soo-hyun’s world is shattered when Kyung-chul brutally murders his fiancee, leading him to embark on a deadly mission to avenge her death. As you watch Soo-Hyun relentlessly pursue his target, delivering brutal blows along the way, you’ll be on the edge of your seat, unable to look away from the screen.
4. THE OUTLAWS – AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
The initial installment of the Crime City series stars Ma Dong-Seok, Yoon Kye-sang, Jo Jae-Yoon, and Choi Gwi-Hwa in significant roles, and is a gripping thriller that follows the story of a no-nonsense cop named Ma Seok-do (played by Dong-seok) from Seoul’s crime unit. In the midst of a turf war between local Korean and Chinese gangs, violence and tension escalate on the streets as each gang battles for supremacy over the territory. Seok-do is tasked with restoring peace and order, and goes all-in to catch the culprits. However, his efforts are complicated by the pursuit of a loan shark. As he struggles to perform his duties as a law enforcement officer, Seok-do finds himself caught in the crossfire between the warring gangs and the loan shark.
5. THE HOST (2006) – NETFLIX, MX PLAYER
Featuring an all-star cast including Song Kang-ho, Byung Hee-bong, Bae Doona, Park Hae-il, and Go Ah-sung, this film centers around a perplexing sea monster that emerges from the Han river. The creature is spawned after an American military pathologist orders his team to discard bottles of the chemical formaldehyde into the river, leading to multiple disappearances. When the beast captures a young girl, her family takes matters into their own hands and embarks on a perilous mission to rescue her, putting everything on the line in the process.
6. THE WAILING – AMAZON PRIME VIDEO, MX PLAYER
Prepare to be spooked by this supernatural thriller that takes you on a bone-chilling journey to a quiet village called Gokseong, where a mysterious infection has transformed the once peaceful inhabitants into bloodthirsty murderers. The story follows policeman Jong-goo, who has a disturbing encounter with a woman that prompts him to investigate a Japanese man believed to be the cause of the strange and gruesome deaths. With its eerie atmosphere and suspenseful plot, this movie is a must-see for horror enthusiasts looking for a scare.
7. BURNING – AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
Based on a short story titled “Barn Burning” by renowned Japanese author Haruki Murakami, this South Korean-Japanese thriller revolves around the relationship between two childhood friends, whose bond is jeopardized by the sudden appearance of a stranger. Jong-su, a deliveryman and aspiring writer, reunites with his childhood friend Hae-mi, who asks him to take care of her cat while she is away in South Africa. When Hae-mi returns, she introduces Jong-su to a mysterious man named Ben, played by Steven Yeun of “The Walking Dead” fame. As Ben keeps his personal life under wraps, Jong-su becomes increasingly suspicious of him. However, a drunken confession by Ben leads Jong-su down a path of violent destruction.
Let us know your favorite movies, from our picks in the comment section below.