Everyone is well aware of the long-standing popularity of Korean pop music and Korean dramas. Most of us are aware of South Korea and K-pop’s immense popularity, and Korean horror films only add to this.
While Korean romantic films and television shows are renowned for their magical depiction of unconditional love, South Korean horror films have earned a reputation for their gripping storylines and thrilling sequences.
Several interesting themes of damnation and survival go beyond the standard “horror” trope to elevate Korean films of this genre above the norm. Some examples of such films that are loaded with these elements are Bedevilled (2010) and The Call (2020).
One’s Company, Two’s A Crowd: Korean Horror Films That Are Not To Be Missed
Korean horror films are some of the best out there, and they offer not only suspense but also excellent moral lessons, so add a few of the best to your watchlist and share them with your friends.
1. The Witch: Part 2. The Other One (2022)
The Witch: Part 2. The Other One is the sequel to one of Korea’s most successful science fiction action horror films, The Witch: Part 1. A Subversion. The Park Hoong-jung-directed film stars Shin Si-ah, Sung Yoo-bin, Jo Min-su, and Park Eun-bin. An Ark escapee befriends siblings Kyung Hee and Dae Gil. Kyung Hee makes tremendous efforts to protect the girl from the people who are looking for her. When they find her, everyone is at risk.
2. Alive (2020)
Il Cho’s Alive tells the story of a zombie attack on Seoul and stars Yoo Ah-in, Park Shin Hye, and Jeon Bae-Soo. Oh Joon-woo, a video gamer, is trapped in a deserted apartment building with nothing but ramen and water. Being cut off from his loved ones, his survival instincts are his only option.
3. The Closet (2020)
The Closet, a Kim Kwang-bin film with Haa Jung-woo, Yool Heo, and Kim Nam-gil among its cast, centers on an architect who is distraught over the deaths of his wife and his daughter’s sudden disappearance. When a mysterious man named Kyung-Hoon tells him to find her in the closet, things take a sinister turn.
4. The Call (2020)
Based on the British and Puerto Rican supernatural thriller The Caller, Lee Chung-hyun’s The Call stars Park Shin Hye, Jeon Jong-seo, and Kim Sung-ryung and tells the story of Seo-yeon, a woman who returns to her childhood home and has a conversation with a woman who claims to be haunted. The fact that Seo-Yon has traced the call back 20 years to the same house only adds to the mystery.
5. The Wrath (2018)
The Wrath is a remake of the 1986 Korean horror film Woman’s Wail, which stars Choi Hong-il, Seo Yeong-hie, and Lee Kyu-sung. It is set during the Joseon Dynasty and centers on the deaths of the three sons of high-ranking official Lee Kyung-jin on the day of their wedding. Being pregnant with the third son’s child, a woman investigates the mysterious deaths. Soon, she discovers a wicked house ghost.
6. The Witch Part 1: The Subversion (2018)
The story follows Ja-yoon, a high school student who appears content when she is with her best friend but otherwise leads a miserable life. Park Hoon-Jung directed the film, which also features actors Kim Da-mi, Kim Byeong-OK, and Choi Woo-sik. In her search for answers, Ja-yoon’s amnesia turns her life upside down.
7. Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018)
Jung Bum-shik’s film features an ensemble cast including Wi Haa-joon, Park Sung-hoon, and Lee Seung-wook and centers on a horror show production team that travels to a notorious asylum rumored to be the site of paranormal activity. Due to the numerous failed attempts by other people, the team believes it can make a lot of money by streaming the events live. Fate, however, has other plans for them.
8. The Wailing (2016)
Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing stars Kwak Do-won, Hwang Jung-min, and Jun Kunimura and tells the story of a village that contracts a strange disease after the arrival of an anonymous Japanese man. After promising the villagers that he would uncover the cause of the epidemic, police officer Jong Goo finds himself embroiled in the case. The Korean Film Council’s KOBIS database shows that this horror film, which premiered at Cannes, made more than USD 50 million (INR 4,134 million approx.).
9. Train To Busan (2016)
Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan, starring Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, and Ma Dong-seok, is one of South Korea’s all-time box office hits. it tells the story of a workaholic father, Seok-woo, and his daughter, Soo-an, who take a bullet train to Busan. Seok-woo and the other passengers must fight for their lives as they make their way to the front of the train because the train soon becomes infested with zombies.
10. Whispering Corridors (1998)
Whispering Corridors is a 1998 South Korean horror film starring Lee Mi-yeon, Kim Gyu-ri, and Choi Se-yeon and directed by Park Ki-hyung. The film takes place at an all-girls high school where a string of unsolved murders and other unexplained events have occurred. The film explores the power dynamics in the classroom and the oppressive nature of the traditional school structure.
11. I Saw The Devil (2010)
The South Korean psychological thriller I Saw The Devil stars Lee Byung-hun and Choi Min-sik and is directed by Kim Jee-won. Popularity led to a remake of Ek Villain. The film follows Kim Soo-hyun, a secret agent who hunts Kyung-chul, a serial killer who killed his fiancee. Rather than prosecuting Kyung-chul, Kim seeks revenge.
12. Thirst (2009)
Song Kang-ho, Kim Ok-bin, and Kim Hae-sook star in Park Chan-wook’s chilling film Thirst, which tells the story of a Catholic priest, Sang-hyun, who takes part in a medical experiment to find a cure for a deadly virus. The experiment backfires, though, and Sang-hyun winds up as a vampire. Trying to satisfy his bloodlust, Sang-hyun develops a dangerous relationship with a married woman.
13. The Red Shoes (2005)
Korea’s Kim Yong-gyun directed the 2005 horror film The Red Shoes. The plot revolves around Sun Jae, a young ballerina who dreams of becoming the lead dancer in her ballet troupe, and stars Kim Hye-su, Seong Su-kim, and Yeon-ah Park. Her dancing improves after she finds red shoes in a dusty attic and wears them. It turns out the shoes are cursed and expensive. Sun Jae kills or goes insane to escape the shoes’ horror. The movie is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Red Shoes”.
14. The Mimic (2017)
Featuring Yum Jung-ah and Park Hyuk-kwon and directed by Huh Jung, The Mimic follows a family that moves to a remote mountain village to escape city life. They realize something is wrong in the village when their daughter, Hee-yeon, disappears. The narrative is based on the Korean folktale of the “Jangsan Tiger,” a beast that imitates human voices to entice prey. The film explores loss, grief, and family through horror, drama, and mystery.
15. Death Bell (2008)
Nam Gyu-ri, Lee Beom-soo, and Kim Bum star in Death Bell, a South Korean horror thriller film directed by Chang and released in 2008. The film takes place in an elite high school, where a sadistic killer traps a select group of students in a series of increasingly difficult riddles.