Top 10 Korean Movies of All Time – Must Watch!

Top 10 Korean Movies of All Time - Must Watch!

If you’re a fan of captivating narratives, stunning visuals, and emotional tales like me, then you’re in for a treat. Today, I’m discussing the vibrant world of Korean cinema. Korea has produced some truly remarkable films that have captured hearts globally.

So, grab your popcorn and get comfortable, as I’m about to present you with the top 10 Korean movies of all time (in my humble opinion).

Must-Watch Korean Movies

10. The Handmaiden (2016)

Directed by Park Chan-wook, this movie is renowned for its stunning visuals, intricate plot, and compelling portrayal of romance and deception. Set in the 1930s during the Japanese occupation of Korea, it tells the story of a young woman hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but with a secret agenda.

The film’s production design, costumes, and cinematography are exceptional, and it has received widespread critical acclaim.

  • Box Office: $38.6 million (Worldwide)
  • Genre: Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • Audience Score: 91%

Where to Watch: Prime Video and SBS On Demand

9. Oldboy (2003)

A masterpiece by Park Chan-wook, Oldboy is part of the Vengeance Trilogy and is celebrated for its intense storyline, dramatic cinematography, and the deep psychological depth of its characters.

It involves a man imprisoned in a cell for 15 years without knowing the reason, only to be released and given five days to find the cause of his imprisonment. Its twist ending and action sequences are iconic, making it a pivotal film in Korean cinema history.

  • Box Office: $17.1 million (Worldwide)
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery
  • Audience Score: 94%

Where to Watch: Netflix, Apple TV, and Prime Video

8. Memories of Murder (2003)

Directed by Bong Joon-ho, this film is based on the true story of Korea’s first serial murders in rural Gyeonggi Province and the ensuing investigation. Known for its suspenseful narrative, superb acting, and the way it captures the essence of South Korea in the 1980s, it’s a critical examination of police inefficiency and obsession. The movie has garnered international acclaim for its direction, screenplay, and cinematography.

  • Box Office: $1.2 million (Worldwide)
  • Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
  • Audience Score: 92%

Where to Watch: Netflix, Tubi, and VUDU

7. Mother (2009)

Another gem by Bong Joon-ho, Mother is a gripping thriller about a mother’s unconditional love for her son, who is accused of murder. The film explores themes of family, justice, and sacrifice with nuance and depth. Its storytelling, performances, and cinematography have been highly praised.

  • Box Office: $17.1 million (Worldwide)
  • Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
  • Audience Score: 89%

Where to Watch: Prime Video and Netflix

For those subscribed to Netflix, it offers the convenience of simultaneous viewing, allowing multiple family members to enjoy the captivating narrative together.

6. Parasite (2019)

Directed by Bong Joon-ho, Parasite made history by becoming the first South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes and the Academy Award for Best Picture.

It’s a darkly comedic and suspenseful tale of two families, one wealthy and one poor, whose lives become intertwined in unexpected ways, offering a sharp critique of class inequality. Its unique story, direction, and performances have earned it worldwide acclaim.

  • Box Office: $263 million (Worldwide)
  • Genre: Drama, Thriller
  • Audience Score: 90%

Where to Watch: Netflix and Hulu

5. The Wailing (2016)

This supernatural horror film directed by Na Hong-jin is set in a small village where a mysterious illness starts spreading after a stranger arrives. Known for its atmospheric tension, complex narrative, and shocking twists, it delves into themes of faith, family, and the unknown.

  • Box Office: $51.3 million (Worldwide)
  • Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
  • Audience Score: 82%

Where to Watch: Netflix and Shudder

4. Poetry (2010)

Directed by Lee Chang-dong, Poetry is about an elderly woman who, while grappling with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, takes up poetry, leading to a profound exploration of existence and beauty amidst the discovery of a heinous crime.

It’s celebrated for its sensitive storytelling, exceptional performance by the lead actress, and its beautiful, contemplative approach to life’s challenges.

  • Box Office: $1.3 million (Domestic)
  • Genre: Drama
  • Audience Score: 86%

Where to Watch: Kanopy, Fandor, and Netflix

3. Burning (2018)

Also by Lee Chang-dong, Burning is a mesmerizing psychological drama based on a story by Haruki Murakami. It follows a young man who becomes involved with a mysterious woman and her enigmatic friend, leading to a complex narrative of desire, obsession, and social inequality. Its slow-burn storytelling, stunning cinematography, and ambiguous narrative have been widely acclaimed.

  • Box Office: $6.8 million (Worldwide)
  • Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
  • Audience Score: 80%

Where to Watch: Kanopy, Shudder, and AMC+

2. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Directed by Kim Jee-woon, this psychological horror film is based on a Korean folk tale and tells the story of two sisters who return home after spending time in a psychiatric hospital, only to face disturbing events. Known for its atmospheric horror, intricate plot, and emotional depth, it has become a cult classic.

With its chilling ambiance and gripping narrative, it’s no wonder why this film is a must-watch on the best streaming services for horror movies.

  • Box Office: $1 million (Worldwide)
  • Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
  • Audience Score: 83%

Where to Watch: Kanopy

1. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (2003)

Directed by Kim Ki-duk, this film is a poetic meditation on the human condition, set in a remote monastery floating on a lake through the seasons.

It follows the life of a Buddhist monk from childhood to old age, exploring themes of love, suffering, and redemption through stunning visuals and minimalistic storytelling. Its serene beauty and philosophical depth have made it a standout in Korean cinema.

  • Box Office: $9.53 million (Worldwide)
  • Genre: Drama, Romance
  • Audience Score: 93%

Where to Watch: Prime Video and SBS On Demand


The films highlighted in this guide represent just a fraction of what Korean cinema has to offer. Directors like Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook, Lee Chang-dong, and Kim Ki-duk have not only defined the contours of Korean cinema but have also positioned it firmly on the global stage, challenging and expanding the boundaries of genre, narrative, and visual storytelling.

So, next time you can’t decide which titles to choose for your movie night, I recommend you revisit this article and give a chance to some of these gems. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

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