10 Korean Movies For Beginners | TheReviewGeek Recommends

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10 Korean Movies For Beginners

While it is easy to just pick the latest K-drama streaming on OTT platforms, for beginners who want to get started with the best Korean movies, it can be quite a challenge. Like any movie industry, South Korea had its phases with melodramatic action movies or fun rom-com in the 80s and 90s. The last two decades in terms of K-movies can be described by horror, thrillers and action with the occasional comedy and satire. 

But if you have never watched a Korean film and are not sure where to begin, we’ve got you on that front. We’ve made a list of some of the most popular and iconic Korean movies released in recent years, varying in genres and popular actors. From adrenaline-filled action to cult-like films, get ready for a ride. 

Well, here is a list of 10 Korean movies for beginners to get started with.


the thieves

The Thieves (2012)

Get ready for a thrilling comedy heist that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Join a group of charismatic thieves as they plan the ultimate heist, filled with twists, humour, and unexpected alliances. Macau Park ropes in a group of small-time thieves to steal the legendary diamond, Tear of the Sun.

But the thieves are too busy trying to one-up each other while the owner of the diamond has no intention of sitting back and letting them steal his prized possession. A rollercoaster ride full of action, comedy and witty banter, it will leave you laughing and rooting for the thieves till the very end.


Il Mare (2000)

Get ready for an angst-filled tale of fate and love. Il Mare takes you on a magical journey where time and space transcend. Considered the blueprint for time-travelling romance, follow the heartfelt correspondence between two individuals living in different eras, bound by a mysterious mailbox.

Eun-joo starts falling for Sung-hyun when they accidentally swap letters. The only catch is that she is from the year 1999 while he is receiving her letters back in 1997. Experience the bittersweet romance that unfolds, leaving you with a sense of longing as they try to meet despite existing in different timelines.


parasite

Parasite (2019)

Brace yourself for an award-winning masterpiece that defies genres and explores the stark realities of class division. Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite weaves a gripping tale of a lower-class family infiltrating the lives of a wealthy household. The rich Parks seem to have struck gold when their faulty servants are replaced by new, loyal and hardworking servants.

But unbeknownst to them, the new attendants all come from the same family and do not attribute their placement in the Park’s household to luck but to created opportunities. With brilliant storytelling and thought-provoking social commentary, this film takes you on a thrilling and unpredictable journey.


Along With The Gods: The Two Worlds (2017) 

Embark on an epic adventure through the afterlife in this emotionally-charged fantasy film. Join a group of guardian angels as they guide a deceased soul through a series of trials to determine their own fate.

In a world where reincarnation is no easy feat, firefighter Ja-hong must go through 7 trials, supported by only 3 guardians to prove that he was a good man and worthy of reincarnation. But as it keeps getting more complicated, Gang-rim, the main guardian suspects that someone is trying to sabotage Ja-hong.


Train To Busan (2016)

Hold on tight for a pulse-pounding zombie thriller that will have you at the edge of your seat from start to finish. Board the train to Busan where passengers are stuck in the midst of a terrifying zombie outbreak. Seok-woo and his estranged daughter Su-an are simply interested in travelling to Busan to see her mother when a zombie attack has them changing plans.

As the passengers start allying to ward off the hordes, cracks start appearing with each station the train passes. With intense action sequences, this zombie movie stands out for its emotional depth, as viewers start rooting for the survivors who keep getting picked off one by one.


Oldboy (2003)

Prepare yourself for an intense and twisted revenge tale that will leave you questioning the limits of human morality. Follow the journey of a man seeking vengeance after being mysteriously imprisoned for 15 years. After Oh Dae-su is stolen from his home and imprisoned without any explanation, the man does his best to get out and find answers.

After 15 years, he miraculously escapes and his journey to finding the truth seems too easy. Is he really free or has he walked into a trap? Directed by Park Chan-wook, Oldboy takes you on a dark and mesmerizing exploration of obsession, violence, and the consequences of unchecked desires.


Burning (2018)

Delve into a slow-burning psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end. Based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, Burning follows a young man who becomes entangled in a complex love triangle. After Jong-su reconnects with Hae-mi, a childhood friend, he falls for her carefree-spirited nature.

Unfortunately, this also attracts the attention of the mysterious Ben who starts dating Hae-mi. His weird hobby of supposedly burning greenhouses has Jong-su obsessing over him as Ben keeps getting under his skin every time they meet.


The Admiral: Roaring Currents (2014)

Get ready for an epic historical naval battle that showcases the indomitable spirit of a legendary Korean admiral. Set during the Imjin War, The Admiral: Roaring Currents immerses you in a breathtaking display of strategy and courage as Admiral Yi Sun-sin leads his outnumbered fleet against a formidable Japanese armada.

With stunning visuals and gripping action, this film captures the essence of heroism and national pride, making it the biggest box office hit to date in the Korean movie industry.


A Taxi Driver (2017)

Buckle up for a thrilling ride through the streets of Gwangju as this satirical movie unravels one of the biggest recent uprisings in the country. Set in 1980, Man-seob is a simple man with one goal in his life, to earn well as a taxi driver in Seoul and look after his young daughter.

When German journalist Peter promises him months’ worth of pay for a round trip to Gwangju, the driver eagerly agrees. While Man-seob thinks of it as an easy feat, he soon regrets it as they are caught in the middle of the student protests filling the streets.


20th Century Girl (2022)

Netflix has released its fair share of original Korean movies but this angsty and romantic tale just might earn a cult status in the next few years. Portrayed as a coming-of-age story of a couple of high schoolers, we have best friends Bo-ra and Yeon-du’s friendship being tested as a new boy enters the fray.

With Yeon-du set to miss a school year due to heart surgery, Bo-ra promises to keep her up to date on her crush, Baek Hyun-jin. But as Bo-ra starts keeping tabs on him, she falls for his friend, Poong Woon-ho. With nostalgic visuals, complex characters, and a melancholic storyline, this film explores themes of friendship, adolescence, and young love.

Read More: 10 K-dramas For Beginners | TheReviewGeek Recommends


So there we have it, our list of 10 Korean movies for beginners.

With so many amazing Korean films being made year after year, it is no surprise that there are many iconic ones that did not make this short list. If you have any favourites we missed, let us know in the comments below.

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