Many Korean movie recommendations have been said over the years, especially after Parasite won Best Picture. But what if you’ve already seen Parasite? What if you’ve already seen Train to Busan? Along with the Gods? My Sassy Girl? You’re done with “classics”. You want something else.
Well, you’ve come to the right place. These are great movies that are probably classics to someone, but the average/casual viewer may not have heard of them. Below are the 15 movies that are still quite popular and well-done but hardly ever recommended by other websites, friends, etc.
Lee Chung (Hyun Bin) is the Prince of Joseon but has been taken hostage by the Qing Dynasty. He enjoys drinking, gambling, and being with women. His older brother Lee Young (Kim Joo Hyuk) is going to succeed the throne and bring Lee Chung to Joseon to experience it. Soon, Lee Chung faces monsters that run rampant in the night.
2. Sympathy for Lady Vengence
After thirteen years in prison for kidnapping and murdering Park Won Mo, Lee Geum Ja (Lee Young Ae) is released and tries to fix her life. She gets a job in a bakery, orders the manufacturing of a special weapon, reunites with her daughter, and she plots revenge against the real killer of Won Mo, Mr. Baek (Choi Min Sik). With the support of former inmates from prison, Geum Ja seeks redemption.
3. Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned
Soo Rin (Shin Eun Soo), a 6th-grade student, moved schools due to her stepfather’s job. In her new school, people think she is weird and avoid her after reading her blog. However, Sung Min (Kang Dong Won) befriends her and they fall in love. One day, Soo Rin, Sung Min, and his friends Tae Shik (Um Tae Goo) and Jae Wook (Jung Woo Jin) go to the mountains and find a cave under a tree with a mysterious egg. The boys disappear and Soo Rin and the police start looking for them. A few days later, Sung Min appears again as an adult.
4. The Housemaid
A piano composer (Kim Jin Kyu) has just moved into a two-story house with his wife (Joo Jung Ryo) and two children. When his pregnant wife becomes exhausted from working to support the family, he hires a housemaid (Lee Eun Shim) to help with the work around the house. The new housemaid behaves strangely, catches rats with her hands, spies on the composer, and seduces him.
5. Moonlit Winter
Yoon Hee (Kim Hee Ae) lives with her teenage daughter, Sae Bom (Kim So Hye). On a winter day, Yoon Hee receives a letter from Otaru, Japan. Sae Bom reads the letter and learns about her mother’s unspoken first love (Nakamura Yuko). Sae Bom sneakily proposes that they travel to Otaru, Japan together. Yoon Hee, believing that she might meet her first love again, feels her heart fluttering.
6. House of Hummingbird
In 1994, 14-year-old Eun Hee (Park Ji Hoo), is the youngest of three children, with a delinquent middle sister and an overachieving, violent older brother. Her family runs a rice cake store. Eun Hee dates a local boy and often gets in trouble with her best friend Ji Sook (Park Seo Yoon) until she becomes enamored by her new Chinese teacher, Young Ji (Kim Sae Byeok). As Eun Hee deals with growing up, the world has several major news events happening such as the world cup, the death of North Korean leader, Kim Il Sung, and the collapse of the Seongsu bridge.
7. I Saw the Devil
Kyung Chul (Choi Min Shik) is a psychopath who kills for fun. He has committed serial murders in diabolic ways that one can’t even imagine, and his victims range from young women to even children. The police have chased him for a long time but were unable to catch him. One day, Joo Yeon (Oh San Ha), the daughter of a retired police chief, becomes his target and is found dead. Her fiance, Soo Hyun (Lee Byung Hun), a secret agent, decides to track down the murderer himself and promises that he will do anything to take vengeance, even if it means becoming a monster himself.
8. Shoot My Heart
In a psychiatric hospital, Soo Myung (Yeo Jin Goo) has suffered from schizophrenia due to his guilt from his mother’s suicide. He meets Seung Min (Lee Min Ki) at the hospital. Seung Min has been forcibly hospitalized because of his wealthy family’s fight for the inheritance money. Seung Min constantly tries to escape and Soo Myung begins to follow.
9. Kim Ji-young, Born 1982
Kim Ji Young (Jung Yoo Mi) has one of the most common female names for people her age. She works at a PR agency, gets married, and has a daughter. Kim Ji Young eventually quits her job so she can raise her daughter. She leads an ordinary life until suddenly, she begins to talk like her mother, her older sister, and other people. She seems like she is possessed. What happened?
10. Castaway on the Moon
Kim Seung Keun (Jung Jae Young) jumps off a bridge in an attempt to take his own life. However, he ends up washed ashore on a small nearby island, alive. At first, Seung Keun looks for every way to get off the island, but after a few days, he starts to find comfort in his primitive surroundings. Meanwhile, a young reclusive woman named Kim Jung Yeon (Jung Ryeo Won) sits in her room, addicted to the website, “Cyworld”. She hasn’t left her apartment in three years and doesn’t plan to do so anytime soon. In the evenings, when Jung Yeon is finished with Cyworld, she dabbles in photographing the moon. During one of those evenings, she notices a “HELP” sign written into the sand of a nearby island and a strange man walking around.
Former boxer Chul Min (So Ji Sub) starts a new job as a parking lot attendant to change his life around. One night, a visually impaired young woman, Jung Hwa (Han Hyo Joo), walks into his booth to watch TV with him. Jung Hwa’s bright spirit and smile warmed Chul Min’s cold heart but their love and happiness may be short-lived.
12. The King and the Clown
In the 16th-century Joseon Dynasty, a pair of rural male actors, boisterous, manly Jang Seng (Kim Woo Sung) and quiet, feminine Gong Gil (Lee Joon Gi), travel to Seoul and join a struggling acting troupe. When their “disrespectful” show mocks the self-indulgent king, they are arrested but given the chance to live if they can make the king laugh. To everyone’s surprise, the king loves the show and makes the actors official court jesters, giving them extravagant food. However, the king’s attentiveness to Gong Gil makes it quickly apparent that humor isn’t the only thing motivating him. The king’s mistress, the country’s ministers, and Jang Seng soon realize, and jealousy and anger arise.
13. Secret Sunshine
After losing her husband, Shin Ae (Jeon Do Yeon), a single mother, relocates to her husband’s hometown Miryang (“Secret Sunshine”) for a new start. When tragedy strikes, Shin Ae undergoes an emotionally shattering journey that pits her against everything she’s known.
Ma Jo Goo (Lee Min Ki), a street magician, meets a miserable girl, Kang Yeo Ri (Son Ye Jin), during one of his performances, and she becomes the inspiration for his “horror magic show.” The show becomes wildly popular and he is now a successful magician with a model girlfriend. Yeo Ri begins working as an extra on the show but something keeps her from truly connecting with anyone.
Jo Goo’s attempt to include her during dinner gets her drunk and when he calls her the next morning, the phone disconnects with a weird noise. When Jo Goo finds her, she explains her history. Since surviving a car accident Yeo Ri has seen ghosts especially her best friend Joo Hee (Hwang Seung Eon). During the course of Jo Goo’s failed attempts to find Yeo Ri a boyfriend, they start to develop feelings for each other. Consumed with jealousy, Joo Hee becomes a threat.
15. Seoul Searching
Based on a true story during the 1980s, the Korean government created a summer camp for “gyopo”, foreign-born teenagers, where they could spend a summer in Seoul to learn about their homeland. However, the government simply could not keep up with the teenagers’ uncontrollable activities.
Have you seen any of these? Which one are you willing to try?