With the success that Train To Busan (2016) and Okja (2017) had on global audiences, it is no surprise Netflix seems to be adding more Korean movies to their streaming list. But with so many out there it is easy to overlook those without a recognizable cast or that don’t often appear on your ‘recommended’ list. To remedy that, here are some Korean movies you might have not heard about but were good enough to please critics and audiences alike.
Cart, directed by Boo Ji-young (Sisters On The Road), focus on the events that led female contract employees from a large supermarket to go on a massive strike after learning they were being laid-off. The film was inspired by real-life events that took place in South Korea in 2007, and was included as one of the Top 10 Films of the Year at the 35th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards. The relatable characters and their willingness to not give up even in the most hopeless times is the perfect pick me up for those days when your faith in humanity needs to be restored.
The Wailing (2016)
If you’re a fan of horror and suspense, The Wailing (Na Hong-Jin), which has a 99 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is for you. Strange events start to unfold, including a mysterious death by an unknown disease, after the arrival of a Japanese man at a quiet village. The policeman, Kwak Do-won (The Attorney), investigating the case soon learns he might be dealing with supernatural forces. The director, Na Hong-jin (The Chaser), relies heavily on suspense and a killer soundtrack to make this film one of those you don’t want to watch in the dark.
Directed by Bong Joon-ho (Okja, Snowpiercer), Mother is a suspense/thriller that follows a widow (Kim Hye-ja) who desperately tries to find the true killer behind the murder her son is being accused of. This movie won numerous awards including Best Film and Best Actress at the Korean Association of Film Critics Awards and Director’s Cut Awards. Mother not only features amazing acting, but it will also keep you guessing until the very end.
Tunnel, based on So Jae-Won’s novel and directed by Kim Seong-hun (A Hard Day), follows the story of Jung-soo (Ha Jung-woo), who’s on his way home for his daughter’s birthday when a tunnel completely collapses leaving him trapped inside his car. Jung-soo is left with only two bottles of water and a birthday cake. Tunnel has a 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. This nail-biting suspense is not for the faint of heart as the rescue efforts become more complicated with each passing day, and Jung-soo struggles survive.
26 Years (2012)
26 Years (Jo Geun-hyeon), based on the webtoon by the same name, tells the fictional story of four people who are recruited to take revenge on the man responsible for the deaths of their loved ones during the Gwangju uprisings. This film was nominated for Best New Director and Best New Actor at the 2013 Baeksang Art Awards. This action-packed thriller will have you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole movie, and hopefully, leave you wanting to know more about the real events that inspired it.
That is the end of our list, but we would love to hear what other underrated or lesser known Korean movies should be on our radar!
Cover Image: Cart
Written by Dianelys Fuentes