Whether you like to curl up on your couch and watch an easy-going thriller or a full blown horror flick, Halloween is the perfect time to do it. Korean movies are able to deliver some serious psychological thrillers and grotesque gore that will linger in your mind for days to come. If you’re new to Korean cinema, here’s a list of some popular ones that you should start with.
Note: List is in no particular order.
Yoo Ah In stars as Joon Woo, a gamer who spends most of his days streaming for his followers online. One day, there is breaking news that a disease is spreading rapidly where people are eating other people. Joon Woo fights to survive in his home and also meets Yoo Bin (Park Shin Hye) who helps him survive by sending him food.
This film takes you on a journey through the eyes of Joon Woo and it does a very good job of showing what life would be like if there was a zombie apocalypse for a lot of people today. It’s a good thriller without being too scary or grotesque, which is perfect for those of you with a weak stomach. There’s also the added privilege of seeing Yoo Ah In and Park Shin Hye together in a movie and they are great as co-stars! It’s a definite must-watch for this Halloween season.
2. “A Tale of Two Sisters”
After their mother passes away, Soo Mi (Im Soo Jung) and Soo Yeon (Moon Geun Young) have no choice but to live with their stepmother (Yum Jung Ah). Soo Mi returns from a mental institution and reunites with her sister, but they are tormented by their stepmother and find it difficult to live under her care. Thinking about their father and not wanting to make him unhappy, they decide to put up with their horrific stepmother. As they continue to live their lives under her roof, we see a lot of strange occurrences in the house that are connected to a dark history.
This movie was critically acclaimed in Korea as it became the highest-grossing Korean horror film at the time. It was also shown in theaters in the States, which is a very big deal as it paved the way for a lot of other Korean films to be released internationally. The story itself doesn’t seem that scary at first, but the psychological depth it takes viewers on and seeing all that the sisters go through is tormenting. Not to mention Im Soo Jung and Moon Geun Young are spectacular and are able to carry the scary tone of the movie from beginning to end.
A classic thriller, “Phone” stars Ha Ji Won as Ji Won, a reporter who is looking into a particular controversial topic to expose. As she investigates, she receives a series of terrifying phone calls that are relentless. On top of this, there are several mysterious deaths surrounding her that are linked to these mysterious phone calls.
If you’re into Korean classics and Korean horror films, then this film is one you can’t miss. It’s a supernatural horror film and a very nerve-wracking one. This cursed phone that Ji Won can’t seem to get rid of doesn’t seem like it would be that scary, but it is. There are a series of events that transpire as a result of it. There are many elements that are disturbing and hard to forget, especially Kim Yoo Mi‘s character Ho Jung and her jealous rage.
4. “The Host”
“The Host” is written and directed by Academy Award winner Bong Joon Ho. It’s a 2006 horror film that takes place in Seoul. A mysterious creature living in the Han River, right in the middle of the city, continues to grow until it starts to consume people. The river turns into a sea of blood from all the people it kills as people frantically try to figure out how to get rid of it.
“The Host” won several awards including Best Film at the Asian Film Awards and the Blue Dragon Film Awards. It’s no surprise really as it was written by the great Bong Joon Ho. This movie will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. You’ll be screaming and sweating from not wanting anyone to get eaten by the monster. It’s both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time!
5. “Whispering Corridors”
Hur Eun Young (Lee Mi Yeon) is a teacher at an all girls high school. There are rumors circulating amongst the students that a former student named Jin Ju, who died, is still attending the school. Students start to get scared as their fellow students begin to disappear.
Any scary setting that takes place in a Korean school is bound to send chills down your spine. Especially when the ghost involves a little school girl. There’s something bone-chilling about seeing a supposed dead girl lurking in the halls of a school. It’s more than enough to guarantee a good scare. You’ll definitely find yourself looking over your shoulder a lot after watching this movie!
6. “Train to Busan”
Seok Woo (Gong Yoo) is a fund manager in Seoul and is separated from his wife. The two have a daughter named Soo An, but she lives with Seok Woo. On the night before her birthday, Soo An begs her father to go see her mom in Busan. He finally caves and decides to take her via train. What they don’t know is that on this train, there is a passenger who has been bitten and infected by zombies. It becomes a train ride where they have to fight for survival.
It’s hard to do a scary movie list without mentioning “Train to Busan.” This movie does good job of being both horrific and touching at the same time, which is hard to do when it comes to scary movies. You get really invested in not only the main lead but other people on the train that are trapped as a result of zombies. There are more than enough moments where your heart will drop when a zombie gets too close to another person. It’s a must-watch if you’re into zombies and thrillers!
Start watching “Train to Busan”:
Jin Seok (Kang Ha Neul) lives with his family and is dealing with some health issues that he is taking medication for. His older brother, Yoo Seok (Kim Moo Yeol) disappears one day and returns home several weeks later. Jin Seok notices some odd behavior from his brother and starts to believe that his older brother is not who he thought he was.
“Forgotten” is a psychological thriller that will have you continually on the edge of your seat. You’ll want to keep watching just to see what happens at the end. The way in which Yoo Seok is portrayed is so disturbing and haunting that it will totally mess with your head. It’s a film that will be engrained into your memory long after you watch it.
8. “I Saw the Devil”
Soo Hyun (Lee Byung Hun) works for the National Intelligence Service. His wife, Joo Yun (Oh San Ha) is brutally murdered and decapitated by a man named Kyung Chul (Choi Min Sik). Soo Hyun is distraught from seeing that his wife was so viciously murdered and takes it upon himself to get vengeance on the killer.
This is definitely a twisted movie. “I Saw The Devil” is a critically-acclaimed action thriller that premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. When you think you know what’s going to happen, this movie will go against your expectations. Lee Byung Hun and Choi Min Sik are perfect together as their characters are both pretty darn horrific. They do a lot of awful things that you are guaranteed to never forget. The movie can get very graphic and grotesque, so it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.
Ma Jo Goo (Lee Min Ki) is a magician who is constantly trying to find new acts for his performances, while Kang Yeo Ri (Son Ye Jin) has the ability to see ghosts. So when Jo Goo first lays eyes on Yeo Ri, who gives off some creepy vibes, he knows he has to have her involved in his show. The two have a strictly business relationship at first, but they begin to realize that they need each other more than they know.
If you’re looking to watch something that isn’t super freaky and is more light this Halloween season, then this movie is perfect. It’s not common to have the horror and rom-com genre meshed into one flick, but “Spellbound” does it perfectly. Not to mention, Lee Min Ki and Son Ye Jin are super cute together and their chemistry is undeniable!
Start watching “Spellbound”:
Hey Soompiers, which of these freaky flicks is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!
binahearts is a Soompi writer whose ultimate biases are Song Joong Ki and BIGBANG. She is also the author of “K-POP A To Z: The Definitive K-Pop Encyclopedia.” Make sure you follow binahearts on Instagram as she journeys through her latest Korean crazes!
Currently watching: “How Do You Play?” and “Record of Youth”
All-time favorite dramas: “Secret Garden,” “Goblin,” “Because This Is My First Life,” “Star In My Heart”
Looking forward to: Won Bin‘s return to the small screen
How does this article make you feel?