Top Korean Movies of the Last Decade

Friday, March 5, 2010 at 5:37 pm

I love South Korean cinema, and that’s why I’ve put together this list of the top Korean movies of the last decade. If you’re an adventurous moviegoer, give one or more of these a try. You’ll find them nothing like what’s being produced by Hollywood, and the stories will often leave you anticipating repeat viewings. You can also rent Korean movies from Netflix, and the small commission we receive will help us keep bringing you more posts like this.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) – A deaf-mute (Shin Ha-kyun) tries to raise money for his sister’s kidney transplant by kidnapping the daughter of a businessman (Song Kang-ho). Things turn sour, leaving the businessman aching for revenge. Directed by Park Chan-wook, this was the first film in his acclaimed Vengeance Trilogy.

Oldboy (2003) – The second film in Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy, Oldboy tells the tale of Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-sik), a businessman and father who’s abducted by mysterious forces and imprisoned in a hotel room for the next fifteen years. He’s suddenly released and told that he’ll be killed unless he can learn the identity of his abductor. Along the way, he meets and falls in love with a young sushi chef (Kang Hye-jeong).

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) – The third and final installment in the stunning Vengeance Trilogy, this film tells the story of Lee Geum-ja (Lee Young Ae), a woman imprisoned for a murder she didn’t commit. Released at the film’s beginning, she picks up the pieces of her life and methodically plots her revenge against the man (Choi Min-sik) who actually committed the crime.

Oasis (2002) – After serving a three-year prison sentence for involuntary manslaughter–a crime his older brother actually committed–a man tries to make amends with the family of the deceased. They throw him out, but not before he becomes captivated with the dead man’s daughter, a young woman stricken with cerebral palsy.

Secret Sunshine (2007) – The tragic story of a woman who loses both her child and husband, and the man who supports her through these dark times. Starring Song Kang-ho and Jeon Do-yeon (who won Best Actress at Cannes).

Mother (2009) – After her son is arrested for murder on the flimsiest of charges, an elderly mother goes searching for the real killer. Since she doesn’t spend all her time on golf courses, she actually gets somewhere with her investigation. Directed by Bong Joon-ho.

Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004) – Two brothers fight in the Korean War and eventually end up on opposite sides of the battlefield. An epic story of courage, love, and honor. Starring Won Bin and Jang Dong-gun.

The King and the Clown (2005) – A 16th century Korean king (Jeong Jin Yeong) falls in love with an effeminate court clown (Lee Jun Ki), but the king is prone to murderous outbursts, and his top concubine is willing to eliminate anyone who competes for his affections.

Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005) – One of the highest-grossing South Korean films of all time, the movie is set during the Korean War. As chance would have it, forces from North and South Korea (plus an American pilot) find themselves in an isolated village. The village is so remote, in fact, that they’re completely unaware of the war raging around them.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring (2003) – A Buddhist monk resides in a monastery floating on a placid lake. As the film quietly progresses, the seasons of the man’s life are depicted. Roger Ebert counts this meditative film among the greatest ever made.

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If you enjoyed this list of the top Korean movies of the last decade, you’ll also want to read these posts:

This entry was posted on Friday, March 5th, 2010 at 5:37 pm and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

36 Responses to “Top Korean Movies of the Last Decade”

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May 29, 2010


my sassy girl
a millionaires first love
lured of wolf
how to keep my love
are best movies for me..

June 13, 2010


What, no Shiri?

Easily one of the best korean films.

My wife is a gangster also spawned a whole boatload of sequels, although the first is the best.

How can you not mention those!

June 23, 2010


Other movies worth mentioning

My Sassy Girl
The Host
Memories of Murder
A Tale of Two Sisters
A Bittersweet Life
The Good, The Bad and The Weird
I’m a Cyborg, but That’s Ok
Peppermint Candy

October 12, 2010


wow thanks for the list i love korean movies 🙂

October 18, 2010


the list of my favourite korean movies are
millionare’s 1st love
the classic
they are really stunning and touching!!!!

November 2, 2010


I can’t believe nobody included [The] Chaser (2008) starring Yun-seok Kim! This was the first Korean film I ever saw… so maybe I’m just biased towards it, but it is right up there with Oldboy and The Host in my book. If you have not seen it and you liked Oldboy and/or Shiri then you MUST watch it!

November 8, 2010


So far on your list I’ve only watched Welcome to Dongmakgol, and it is one of the best movies I’ve seen. Maybe I’ll try the other ones you’ve mentioned.

November 19, 2010

Omi ^^

What about “Duelist”(2005) starring Kang Dong Won???!!! That was my first korean movie and I still find it as the best movie ever!!! ^^

February 15, 2011


a bloody aria
bloody ties
The Scarlet Letter
Oishii Man
a dirty carnival
a brand new life
the road to sampo
barking dogs never bite
why did you come to my house
my song is…
the past unearthed series (4? movements) – documentaries
life track
treeless mountain
‘president’s last bang
bittersweet life
turning gate
save the green planet
the KAFA films collection is a good start

these are just some more i watched or re-watched recently (all are, i think, from last decade). not all are the best, but still memorable. certainly i love 3-iron, tho.

tons of great Korean cinema

much of it is disturbing tho, so be prepared

February 15, 2011


Thanks for the list, djmasturbeat. Looks like I’ve got some new films to purchase.

March 10, 2011


Wow thanks a lot for sharing the list of some of the best Korean movies ..I am an Indian from south India ..I love Korean serials ,movies.. yes of course! I need subtitles…but
I can relate many words to my language that is Tamil..will check your site regularly

March 10, 2011


Thanks for the kind words, Sandhya. Glad you liked the list, and I hope you enjoy the movies.

March 25, 2011


My sassy girl….A millionaire’s first love..He was cool etc are best korean movies.

April 9, 2011


I’ve watched many more korean movies/serials etc. none of the movies or serials was bored. But what I need is that the korean movies or serials should be translated into english and I want update of new korean movies/serials. Please anybody is hearing my appeal.


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