Netflix and Thrill: The 15 Most Exciting Korean Movies on Netflix
Order a pizza.
Stay at home, in your warm pajamas. Leave all that club partying for others.
Tonight, it will be just you… and all those Korean movies on Netflix.
Netflix is home to an impressive array of Korean films. In fact, it’s even created a few Korean-language Netflix originals that you can’t find anywhere else!
So cuddle up with your blanket, pizza and popcorn—and press “play.”
Netflix and Thrill: The 15 Most Exciting Korean Movies on Netflix
Imagine a violent military coup in North Korea.
That very possibility is contemplated in this action-thriller headlined by Jung Woo-sung, playing the role of Eom Chul-woo—a top North Korean security officer who finds himself protecting “Number One.”
Amidst the chaos of violent explosions, comrade Eom is dedicated to stopping bullets for the country’s leader. With rogue North Korean hardliners hot on their tail, he sneaks the injured leader into the South. There he meets his security counterpart, Kwak Chul-woo.
Not only do the two guys share the same family name, they also realize that they need to work together on a critical mission if the world is to avoid a deadly nuclear war. This hold-on-to-your-seats, heart-stopping movie will get your adrenaline levels to DEFCON 1.
“High Society” details an ambitious couple’s journey to the top of South Korea’s social rankings. She’s a deputy curator for one of the country’s richest families, and he’s an economics professor with an eye for the big prize.
The premise is fertile ground for backroom dealings, deceptive negotiations and not-so-innocent moves to gain the upper hand. It’s a grandmaster chess match between the couple and people who harbor their own personal agendas. If you already find yourself biased against rich folks, this movie will make your prejudice feel justified!
Regardless of what your beliefs about the upper class are, “High Society” will seduce you with its stellar cinematography.
“26 Years” is the length of time five people have waited to exact revenge.
In May 1980, in the city of Gwangju, South Korea, soldiers were ordered to open fire on protesting civilians, resulting in hundreds of deaths. The event, known in Korean history books as the “Gwangju Massacre,” is a dark episode in the country’s tumultuous march to democracy.
Taking inspiration from this historical incident, “26 Years” is set in 2006, 26 years after the massacre. Five relatives of those who died have banded together to take revenge on the country’s former president, the man said to be ultimately responsible for the death of their loved ones.
They’ve patiently bided their time and cleverly positioned themselves to perform the perfect assassination. The team, composed of an Olympic sharp shooter, a police officer, a gangster, a bribing businessman and a head of a private security firm, is now within shooting distance of the heavily guarded former head of state.
Will their plot succeed? Will they finally avenge the deaths of their loved ones? Watch to find out.
The war that broke out in the Korean peninsula in the 1950s caused a massive dispersion of Korean immigrants into all corners of the world.
The year is 1986. Teenagers of Korean descent find themselves at the Gimpo airport. They hail from all over the globe: the United States, England, Mexico, Germany, etc. These teens are the children of those who escaped the military conflict of decades past. They’re in Korea on a government-funded summer camp that would help the youngsters trace their heritage and connect their ethnic roots.
The group boards buses and goes to a camp outside of Seoul—where most of the soul searching takes place.
The film is about the usual antics teens get into when left to their own devices: ego trips, binge drinking, rebellion, accidental self-discovery and falling in and out of love. Add to this the fact that these teenagers are going through life straddling two very distinct cultures.
The movie does have its comedic moments, but its most potent element is the moving sincerity each character brings. If you’re an immigrant trying to assimilate to your adopted country, the stories here will definitely resonate with you. And if you’re a student of the Korean language, find comfort in knowing that you’re not alone.
You can even use the movie to build or brush up on your basic Korean. The phrases and expressions in the dialogues are very manageable and would be ideal for language beginners.
If you’re watching to learn Korean, you’ll love learning with FluentU!
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
FluentU’s enhanced video player comes with interactive captions: Click any word for an instant definition and native pronunciation.
Videos are conveniently organized into lessons, so you can easily work towards a particular objective, topic or skill. FluentU also offers progress-tracking tools and video suggestions based on what you’ve already watched.
Access the full FluentU video library on your web browser or, better yet, learn on the go when you download the app at the iTunes or Google Play store!
FluentU also has a Korean YouTube channel.
The channel takes the best clips on the internet and transforms them into Korean grammar, vocabulary and cultural lessons.
A perfect example is the following video, which dissects the trailer of the movie “Cheese in the Trap” to teach you everyday Korean expressions:
If learning Korean through engaging videos is your thing, you’re going to love FluentU’s Korean YouTube channel. Subscribe to it today and hit the notification bell so that you don’t miss out on any of the new content!
“Forever the Moment”
“Forever the Moment” is a fictionalized account of the South Korea’s women’s handball team whose performance at the 2004 Athens Olympics whipped a proud nation into a frenzy.
This is an inspiring underdog story that you’ll love to watch over and over. The national team begins as a loose collection of over-the-hill former players, working moms and inexperienced teens. Against all odds, these women reach the handball Olympic finals!
Of course, as these sports movies go, the road to glory is paved with conflict, friction and loss. There’s a painful loss to a high school men’s team, the loss of a hard-nosed coach and then there’s the loss of time with family. There’s comedy, drama and tragedy.
And yes, there’s a training montage, which is set to get your adrenaline going. That alone will get you so inspired you might just get off the couch and jog in the middle of the night.
“The President’s Barber”
How many people woke up this morning thinking, “I’m going to run a sharp blade on the neck of the most powerful man in this country. And nobody, even the Secret Service, can do anything about it?”
Well, that’s certainly the position Seong Han-mo is in. It’s South Korea in the 60s, and owing to his barbershop being near the Blue House (Korea’s version of the White House), he has been tapped to be President Park Chung-hee’s personal barber, handling hair-related presidential regimens.
Han-mo isn’t well-versed in the exigencies of politics, nor is he even acutely aware of the tumultuous times he’s living in. Anybody with that much access and proximity to power would certainly ride his pseudo-celebrity status. But for Han-mo, a simple trim done well is all there is. He’s more interested in raising a family than the political bickerings of the President’s men.
Will he stay the doe-eyed barber when all is said and done? Find out.
Keep in mind, this movie will be so much more powerful if you already have a working knowledge of what South Korea was like in the 60s and 70s.
“Illang: The Wolf Brigade”
The two Koreas have announced plans to reunite in response to geopolitical developments in the region. But not everybody is happy with the plan, and a wave of protests and demonstrations have gripped Korea.
A group of anti-reunification fighters called “The Sect,” which is essentially a terrorist organization, is busy arming suicide bombers and causing further unrest. In response, the government creates the “Special Unit” to crush the movement.
The Wolf Brigade is thought to have come from within the ranks of the Special Unit. They’re steel-clad police officers whose helmets have glowing red eyes, making them look like enraged wolves.
This dark, grungy futuristic thriller was actually once a Japanese manga and has been adapted to the Korean context.
Are you an action movie buff? Here, this one’s for you! It has surreal action sequences, including a scene at Namsan Tower, one of South Korea’s main tourist draws. If you also want high cinematography and loads of melodrama, this movie has those boxes ticked, as well.
This movie follows a classic plot: Kill the hero’s family and, oh boy, will he come after you!
“Revenger” takes place on Sura Island, where death row inmates are sent to fend for themselves. There’s only one rule on Sura: survive. Anything—absolutely anything—goes.
Carlos Kun, our antagonist, is on this isolated paradise for criminals. Yool, an ex-detective who sends himself to Sura to set a date with Kun, is the hero of this whole enterprise.
Yool is played by Bruce Khan, a gripping martial artist who’s won fans of the action genre for his performance in this film. There are breathtaking fight sequences on this one, and Bruce Khan is so masterful, it’s hard to imagine the role played by anybody else.
“Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned”
A 13-year-old girl named Su-rin moves to a remote island and befriends a local boy named Sung-min. They become close and spend a lot of time together. One day, they discover a cave with two other boys and decide to venture inside.
In the cave, they find a magical egg that’s rumored to turn children into adults. Su-rin doesn’t want to touch it, but the boys do. When they all try to leave the cave, the three boys mysteriously disappear, leaving Su-rin all alone. Later, a 30-year-old man shows up and tells Su-rin that he’s her long lost friend, Sung-min.
Imagine if the movie “Big” starring Tom Hanks had more drama and sci-fi, less romance and silliness. That’s “Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned!”
If you want to enjoy a Korean classic, check out “Master.” It’s currently ranking as the 38th-highest-grossing Korean movie of all time, and it’s a fantastic action-thriller.
In “Master,” a crime investigation team chases the company Won Network, which has been committing fraud. You’ll follow two main characters: Kim Jae-Myung is the leader of the crime investigation team, and President Jin is the leader of Won Network who has taken on a new identity now that his fraud has come out.
You’ll become emotionally attached to both men, sort of like if you watched “Catch Me if You Can.” You don’t want to root for President Jin, but somehow, you get sucked in!
If you like a good crime movie, you have to watch “The Prison!”
Song Yoo-gun is a former detective who lands in prison for a hit-and-run. Once he arrives in prison, he discovers the center isn’t run by the guards as it should be. Instead, it’s run by the inmates, headed up by evil genius Ik-ho.
At night, Ik-ho leads the prisoners in a series of crimes. They all have the perfect alibi: They’re locked up in prison, so there’s no way they could have committed these crimes! Song Yoo-gun joins this brigade of criminals, but going along with the pack comes with its drawbacks.
Lee Suk-bong and Lee Joo-bong are two vastly different adult brothers who don’t understand each other. In fact, they aren’t even very interested in each other’s lives. But they’re forced back together when the visit their hometown for their father’s funeral.
While in their hometown, they accidentally hit a woman named Aurora with a car. They’ve never met Aurora before, but as they get to know her, they realize she holds secret information about their family’s past they never knew about.
“The Bros” offers a nice balance of drama and comedy. Who doesn’t love a movie about family members reuniting and moving past their differences?
“How to Steal a Dog”
“How to Steal a Dog” is a feel-good film that you could watch with your children or the kids you’re babysitting. However, adults will love it on their own, too.
In the film, a father abandons his family when his company goes bankrupt, and they lose everything. The mother and two children once lived a luxurious lifestyle, but now they reside in a van.
One day, the 10-year-old daughter, Ji-so, sees a flyer for a missing dog—offering a $500 reward to the person who finds it. As a 10-year-old, Ji-so naively thinks that $500 is enough to fix all her family’s problems. Finally, they could have a house again! So she develops the (not-so) perfect plan: steal a rich person’s dog, then pretend to find it and return it for a cash reward.
“How to Steal a Dog” is the perfect balance of cute, funny and emotional.
Too many of us have taken a job that we thought would be the perfect stepping stone to our dream career, only to realize that’s not the case. For Jung-woo, his dream career is to be a movie director. The stepping stone: working as a pornographic film director.
Fast forward 10 years, and Jung-woo is still making adult films. However, he’s also working on writing his pet project, a script for a movie called “An Officer and a Nurse.”
Eun-soo is a former child star who’s trying to get back into acting. She coincidentally ends up being Jung-woo’s roommate before she knows what he does for a living. Conflict and humorous misunderstandings occur, and as the two pursue their dreams, they fall in love.
But what will happen once it comes out that Eun-soo, a child actor who’s rising to fame once again, works and lives with an adult film director?
“Red Carpet” is a fun, unique romantic comedy that’s great to watch with a group of friends over a bowl of popcorn.
“Luck-Key” follows the lives of two vastly different Korean men. Jae-sung is a failing actor whose life is falling apart, so he becomes suicidal. Hyung-wook is an assassin who’s built a fortune by killing targets.
One day, Jae-sung and Hyung-wook visit the same sauna. Hyung-wook slips on a bar of soap and hits his head, landing himself in the hospital. Jae-sung notices that Hyung-wook seems pretty rich and successful, so while Hyung-wook’s knocked out, he swaps their locker keys so he can gain access to Hyung-wook’s wallet and keys.
When Hyung-wook wakes up in the hospital, his memory is gone. But he has Jae-sung’s key, so he assumes that he is Jae-sung.
Jae-sung has access to a fancy new lifestyle, unaware that he’s moving into the home of an assassin. Hyung-wook is thrown into the life of a beginning actor and finds a passion for the art.
Of course, both men can’t stay happy and oblivious forever. Their new lives will provide you with plenty of laughs… and a few moments that will have your heart racing!
There you go! Fifteen Korean movies are waiting for you on Netflix, so binge away, my friend.
There’s something for everybody. The big question: Which film should you watch first?