Thursday, December 2, 2010

Best South Korean Movies

I'm an avid fan of Korean movies and dramas. I've watched a lot of different genres. I think that this will be of great help to those who want to find interesting Korean movies. I'll give you a list of my top 10 favorite korean movies. The synopses and photos are from and wikipedia. After the synopses will be my insights. Rest assured that there will be no spoilers here.

1. 클래식 The Classic 

Ji-hae and Soo-kyoung are friends attending the same university and both have a crush on Sang-min who is in their drama club. The more clamorous and outgoing of the two, Soo-kyoung, asks Ji-hae to do her a favor - write a love letter to Sang-min. Ji-hae pours out her own feelings for him on paper, but sadly in her friend's name. Touched by the letter, Sang-min is attracted to Soo-kyoung, and Ji-hae, feeling uncomfortable and even guilty, tries to avoid him. And yet by coincidence or by fate she keeps running into him.

This is my all time favorite Korean love story. The plot is great and has a good plant and pay-off. The casts are superb and the soundtrack of this film still lingers on my ears. I watched the movie alone and cried. 

2. 공동경비구역 JSA

A firefight occurs at the “Bridge of No Return” in the DMZ (De-Militarized Zone), and two North Korean soldiers are killed. The North claims that the incident was a flagrant attack by the South Koreans, while the South claims that one of their soldiers was kidnapped. In order to solve the dispute, the NNSC (Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission) dispatches half-Korean half-Swiss Army Intelligence Bureau officer, Major Sophie E. Jean. With no cooperation from either side, the case appears to be unsolvable. However, Major Jean discovers that the number of bullets fired from the pistols and the number found at the scene differ by one, and she begins to dig deeper into the backgrounds of the soldiers involved. Subsequently she finds out about an encounter previous to the firefight when North Korean soldiers saved a South Korean soldier from a mine. The story unravels to reveal a friendship developing among the soldiers.

I highly recommend this movie. One does not have to know Korean history to appreciate the story.  Watch how a South Korean and a North Korean meet in the middle of their territory's border to build friendship. At the end, one doesn't have to choose to whose side to take to. After seeing it, one will be neutral.

3. 올드보이 Old Boy

One day in 1988, an ordinary man named OH Dae-su, who lives with his wife and adorable daughter, is kidnapped and later wakes up to find himself in a private makeshift prison. Dae-su makes numerous attempts to escape and to commit suicide, but they all end up in failure. All the while Dae-su asks himself what made a man hate him so much enough to imprison him without any reason. While suffering from his debacle, Dae-su becomes shocked when he watches the news and hears that his beloved wife was brutally murdered. At this very moment, Dae-su swears to take revenge on the man who destroyed his happy life.
Fifteen years have passed and Dae-su is released with a wallet filled with money and a mobile phone. An unknown man calls Dae-su and asks him to figure out why he was imprisoned...

For me,  the plot is planned and wonderfully revealed towards the end. I am surprised and found it disturbing realizing how people can be foolishly manipulated.

4.  태극기 휘날리며 Tae Guk Gi

In 1950, in South Korea, shoe-shiner Jin-tae Lee and his 18-year-old old student brother, Jin-seok Lee, form a poor but happy family with their mother, Jin-tae's fiancé Young-shin Kim, and her young sisters. Jin-tae and his mother are tough workers, who sacrifice themselves to send Jin-seok to the university. When North Korea invades the South, the family escapes to a relative's house in the country, but along their journey, Jin-seok is forced to join the army to fight in the front, and Jin-tae enlists too to protect his young brother. The commander promises Jin-tae that if he gets a medal he would release his brother, and Jin-tae becomes the braver soldier in the company. Along the bloody war between brothers, the relationship of Jin-seok with his older brother deteriorates leading to a dramatic and tragic end.

 I watched this film in a theatre and I got dizzy watching the action scenes for it was shot handheld. Other than that, it has a good plot and is worth-watching.

 5. 살인의추억  Memories of Murder

In 1986, in the province of Gyunggi, South Korea, a young and beautiful woman is found dead, raped and tied and gagged with her underwear. Detective Park Doo-Man and Detective Cho Yong-koo, two brutal and stupid local detectives without any technique, investigate the murder using brutality and torturing the suspects, without any practical result. The Detective Seo Tae-Yoon from Seuol comes to the country to help the investigations and is convinced that a serial-killer is killing the women. When a third woman is found dead in the same "modus-operandi", the detectives find leads of the assassin.

I had goosebumps after seeing the ending of the film. 
6. 쉬리 (Swiri) 
The story revolves around the tensions between North & South Korea. The plot involves a woman who is trained by the North Korean army to be a ruthless assassin. Her name is Hee (Park Eun-Suk) and she is a one woman killing machine. She conducts many operations against South Korea and then disappears. Some time later, the assassinations start again and two agents of the South Korean Secret Service are assigned to the case. They are Ryu (Han Suck-yu) and Lee (Song Kang-ho) and they immediately suspect that Hee is operational once more. A plan is underway lead by Hee's commanding officer, Park (Choi Min-Sik) to steal a new energy source which has been developed by South Korea called CTX. Basically this is a very powerful explosive which is sensitive to light and heat. Ryu & Lee believe Hee is also involved but they have no proof. This leads to some excellent action sequences and an exciting finale in a major stadium. There are also some good twists along the way.

Shiri is a big blockbuster action film from South Korea which blitzed the box office there on its release in 1999, breaking records set by Titanic.This is the first Korean movie I've watched. It was shown in our class and my love for Korean films started. 

7. 엽기적인 그녀 My Sassy Girl 

As the film opens we are introduced to Kyun-woo, a kind-hearted but at times naive college student who seems to keep getting into trouble. On his way home one night he encounters a beautiful but completely smashed young woman who causes a scene in the subway, calls him "honey", and then passes out. With the eyes of the other subway passengers upon him, he has little choice but to take responsibility for her. Thus begins his relationship with the at-times charming, at-times violent damsel who steals his heart.
Much of the film is structured around the bizarre antics of Kyun-woo's newfound girlfriend. After she passes out yet again, Kyun-woo looks at her blissful face and promises to himself that he will save her, and right whatever it is that troubles her. This proves to be much more of a challenge than he expects.
As we all know, Korean movies often times has tragic endings. This movie is not one of those. It is a feel good movie which will make you laugh, cry, laugh and fall in love.

8. 내 머리 속의 지우개 A Moment to Remeber

A career woman Soo-jin who has everything and was born with a silver spoon in her mouth gets dumped by her already-married boyfriend. She tries to get over him and forget. One day she bumps into a poor carpenter, Cheol-soo whose only goal in life is to become an architect, and she becomes attracted to him. They finally fall in love and get happily married. Now that she thinks she found the right one, she has to face the undeniable fact that she has a disease which is erasing her memories…

I haven't seen "My Amnesia Girl" but I think some of the scenes were inspired from this movie. 
9. 시월애 Il Mare

After Eun-jo (Jeon Ji-hyeon) ends her tenancy of Il Mare, a posh house on a lake, she writes to the new tenant asking for her correspondence to be forwarded. When the tenant replies, Eun-jo discovers that his letter is dated 1997, two years before she contacted him, and that he is the original owner of the property. Il Mare was released in South Korea within a few months of Ditto, another film to explore the themes of national identity and love across time.

This is the second Korean film I watched after seeing Swiri. Some scenes in the movie made me confuse. This is one of the best tear jerker films I've watched.

10. 데이지 Daisy

 The plot follows Hye Young (Jeon Ji Hyun), a rather naive Korean girl who lives in Amsterdam , spending her life working in her grandfather’s antique shop and doing portraits for tourists. One day, she begins receiving flowers at exactly the same time from a secret admirer, who she believes to be a mystery man from her past who once built her a nice little bridge. One day she meets Jeong Woo, who unbeknownst to her is actually an Interpol agent tracking Asian criminals in the Netherlands .
With Hye Young assuming that Jeong Woo is responsible for the flowers, the two fall very slowly into a chaste romantic relationship. retrieved from
This is a love story within an action film.

I hope I've helped those who are seeking on what Korean films to watch. You can also post your favorite korean films as well. Thanks much!!!

Meanwhile, here's a list of link to help you find other Korean films. You may also watch at this sites for free!!! - Watch Korean Movies for free - Watch Asian Drama Online


  1. TaeGUkGi's so far the best for me.
    ive been an avid subscriber of

  2. 私はこのフィルムが好きです! OLD BOY is a must see. Haven't heard SWIRI, I will try watch it

  3. Please upload more korean movies....

    I like korean movies...

  4. Great lists of korean movies. Here's my own k-movie lists. Would you mine checking them out?

  5. wow thanks for this great list i'll download all of this..hope i could find a cool stuff from the props and costume they wore in the movies like that cool moustache backpack in one of the comedy movie.


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