korean romance movies

15 Korean Romance Movies That Will Make Your Heart Race

Love films about love?

Then you have to check out some of the romance flicks that Korea has to offer.

You may already be aware that Korean entertainment has a particular knack for the drama genre. This makes their romantic movies all the more impactful and unique.

For Korean learners, they can also serve as fantastic resources for learning more amorous and sentimental vocabulary.

So without further ado, here are 15 of the most popular Korean romance movies that will make you believe in that silly thing called love.

Contents

1. Always

Available on: Amazon Prime

Korean title: 오직 그대만 (Only You)

Genre: Romance, Action

Year: 2011

Jaded ex-boxer Chul-min now works as a parking lot attendant. His personality is a stark contrast to that of Jung-hwa, a young cheerful woman who is progressively losing her sight.

After a chance encounter, a hopeful relationship blooms between them, but how long will it last?

This is a heartfelt story that will surely rock your emotions, even if you’re normally standoffish about romance tales.

The two actors work wonderfully together in crafting a delicate but genuine bond that puts a spin on the saying “love is blind.”

2. Be With You

Available on: Amazon Prime

Korean title: 지금 만나러 갑니다 (I’m Coming to Meet You Now)

Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Year: 2018

On her deathbed, Soo-ah promises her husband Woo-jin that she’ll return to him and their son one year later when the weather becomes rainy.

After his wife passes away, Woo-jin becomes a single parent to a child who firmly believes in his mother’s homecoming. But miraculously, in exactly one year’s time, an amnesiac woman that’s undeniably Soo-ah strolls back into their lives.

How is this possible, and why does she hold no memories of her dearly beloved?

This is a Korean remake of a Japanese film based on a novel written by Takuji Ichikawa. It’s as melancholy and curious as it sounds, and I bet you’ll cry waterworks in sync with the significant rain scenes within the film.

3. The Classic

Available on: Amazon

Korean title: 클래식

Genre: Romance, Drama

Year: 2003

College student Ji-hye is undergoing a tumultuous romantic crisis. When she’s cleaning through her house, she stumbles upon old possessions belonging to her mother: a diary and a collection of letters.

What she unearths is a secret history of a love triangle that somehow resonates with Ji-hye’s own current reality.

An oldie but goldie, “The Classic” is a thrilling, time-skipping tale that features as much melodrama as you’d want in any love polygon.

I can attest to how memorable the film is–I’ve had its main theme song saved in my music library for over a decade.

I think you’ll also be particularly impressed by the capabilities of the main actress, Son Ye-jin, as she plays both student Ji-hye and a younger version of her mother.

4. Decision to Leave

Available on: Apple TV

Korean title: 헤어질 결심 (Decision to Break Up)

Genre: Romance, Thriller

Year: 2022

Jang Hae-jun is a diligent detective married to a wife he barely sees. He takes on a strange case involving the death of a man found at the bottom of a mountain.

His investigation leads him to the deceased man’s wife, a Chinese emigrant named Song Seo-rae. She seems to be hiding her own secrets, but despite the circumstances, Hae-jun finds himself desperately falling for her.

Want some misbegotten love in your gritty detective mystery movie? Here it is.

The relationship between the two leads is far from straightforward, so buckle in for a crazy ride (emphasized by the fact that the movie is directed by the revered Park Chan-wook).

I promise it’ll be worth it–the many domestic and international accolades the film received are robust proof of that!

5. The Handmaiden

Available on: Amazon Prime

Korean title: 아가씨 (Lady)

Genre: Romance, Thriller, Historical

Year: 2016

A con-man devises a plot to marry a Japanese noblewoman so that he may steal her hefty fortune. To boost his chances, he ropes in a young girl to act as the noblewoman’s maid and steadily persuade her into taking his hand in marriage.

However, the twisted plan doesn’t seem to be working as expected.

The film is actually an adaptation of  “Fingersmith”, a crime novel written by Sarah Waters.

However, instead of the novel’s backdrop of Victorian-era Britain, the movie takes place during Japanese colonial rule of Korea.

There are a lot of erotic and sensual scenes in this film, as well as some triggering content, so this one’s definitely for mature audiences.

6. Il Mare

Available on: Amazon Prime

Korean title: 시월애 (Time-transcending love)

Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Year: 2000

In the midst of leaving her seaside abode, Eun-joo leaves behind a dated letter in the mailbox for the next tenant.

This turns out to be architect student Sung-hyun, but there’s a slight problem–he’s supposed to be the very first tenant of the home, and furthermore, the date on the letter is apparently two years in the future.

He sends an inquiring letter back, and the two dawn on the realization that despite the fact that they’re not living in the same time and space, they’re still somehow able to communicate.

A warm and touching story that fully supports the idea that love is timeless. It was popular enough that it actually gained a 2006 American remake called “The Lake House”, starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.

7. A Moment to Remember

Available on: Netflix

Korean title: 내 머리 속의 지우개 (Eraser in my Head)

Genre: Romance, Melodrama

Year: 2004

Soo-jin and Chul-soo had a clumsy start to their relationship, but it nonetheless flourished over time and led to their happy marriage.

However, Soo-jin’s occasional lapse of memory seems to be much more serious than simple forgetfulness.

If you know anything about Alzheimer’s disease, it’s that it’s an unbearably cruel condition that breaks much more than the sufferer’s mental capacity.

The film’s depiction of this disease and its effects on such a young couple is difficult and heartbreaking to watch, but the love that resonates throughout will keep your teary eyes on the screen.

8. My Sassy Girl

Available on: Netflix

Korean title: 엽기적인 그녀 (That Strange Girl)

Genre: Romance, Comedy

Year: 2001

When he saw a drunk young woman standing precariously near the train tracks, Tae-hyun thought it was only right to assist her away from the edge.

What he didn’t know was that the single interaction would introduce a world of humiliation and distress, courtesy of said girl herself.

This is another old classic that you definitely can’t miss out on. “My Sassy Girl” has a stellar reputation, having spawned a number of remakes and also being considered one of the prominent products that contributed to the Korean cultural wave.

It’s a terrifically fun watch that will make you both laugh and cringe at the poor male lead’s expense. If you enjoyed the film, I suggest you check out one or two of its many subsequent adaptations.

9. Soulmate

Available on: Viki

Korean title: 소울메이트

Genre: Romance, Drama

Year: 2023

Mi-so and Ha-eun met when they were kids, and a strong friendship was built thereafter. As the years pass, the two girls experience the joys and tumults of life, all while tenuously clinging to the resilient threads of their relationship.

Based on a 2016 Chinese film, “Soulmate” isn’t your typical romance movie. In fact, some may not even consider it one.

The story is strongly focused on other kinds of love as well as the liminal boundaries of friendship, which to me makes it a much more intriguing watch.

I would say overall the movie is a bittersweet watch, and you’re bound to feel all sorts of emotions for the struggling female leads who were surely destined for each other.

10. Sweet and Sour

Available on: Netflix

Korean title: 새콤달콤 (Sour and Sweet)

Genre: Romance, Comedy

Year: 2021

Jang-hyeok and Da-eun are pretty good together, but the couple’s love is tested when Jang-hyeok starts a new job in a different location and makes their relationship long-distance. At his workplace, he meets another girl who catches his eye.

The title of the movie sums up the contents quite well. As it covers the highs and lows of a romantic bond (in a mostly comedic fashion), I particularly appreciate the story because, unlike many romance movies, it’s not all about sunshine and rainbows.

It touches on realistic concerns and struggles of a modern-day relationship that’s strained by distance and disconnect.

11. 3-Iron

Available on: Amazon Prime

Korean title: 빈집 (Empty House)

Genre: Romance, Drama, Crime

Year: 2004

Drifter Tae-suk is an odd and strangely well-mannered home intruder. He stumbles upon a particularly impressive home that’s occupied by a husband and wife.

Tae-suk is quick to learn that the wife is in an abusive relationship, and thus starts a whirlwind of events that sweep the two away.

For those who read the title and are curious–yes, golf is a major theme in this movie. I was caught off guard by how artistic and poetic the film was, to the point it felt a bit wrong to just denote it as a romance movie.

It left me feeling a bit empty at the end (so its Korean title is quite fitting, I suppose) but I can definitely say it was a movie I’ll remember for a long while.

12. Tune in for Love

Available on: Netflix

Korean title: 유열의 음악앨범 (Yoo-yeol’s Music Album)

Genre: Romance, Drama

Year: 2016

Mi-soo and Hyun-woo meet in a bakery and develop feelings for each other, although the connection is cut short when Hyun-woo departs with little warning.

However, the future is full of little surprises as the two end up serendipitously meeting several times, although not always in the most ideal circumstances.

I’ll admit, I started this film expecting a lot of your standard melodrama and angst, but I was pleasantly surprised at how sweet the story was.

The characters had great chemistry, so the slow burn of their relationship inspires more sympathy than impatience.

13. 20th Century Girl

Available on: Netflix

Korean title: 20세기 소녀 (20th Century Girl)

Genre: Romance, Drama

Year: 2022

Being a true friend, schoolgirl Bo-ra agrees to stake out and observe Hyun-jin, a boy her best pal is utterly smitten with. However, she slowly begins to fall for the target of her investigation. Commence drama.

Ah yes, the age-old tale of a love triangle gone haywire. I’m not the most romantic person, and I’ve never played detective for a friend, but even I felt a lot of sympathy for our struggling lead as she juggles between being selfless or selfish.

This wholesome film will promise both smiles and tears.

14. 200 Pounds Beauty

Available on: Amazon Prime

Korean title: 미녀는 괴로워 (Beauty is pain)

Genre: Romance, Music, Comedy

Year: 2006

Han-na is an overweight girl blessed with the voice of an angel. She is the secret ghost singer of a lip-syncing pop star.

When Han-na develops a crush on a producer, she decides to undergo drastic plastic surgery to ostensibly gain a body that suits her talent.

This well-loved film covers your classic “not-to-hot” romance trope, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less uniquely endearing and empowering.

Also, fair warning to you: the film’s hit song is an earworm that is guaranteed to stick around in your head for a while.

15. Wish You: Your Melody From My Heart

Available on: Viki

Korean title: 위시 유 : 나의 마음속 너의 멜로디 (Wish You: Your Melody From My Heart)

Genre: Romance, Drama, Music

Year: 2021

Busking musician In-soo is talented and passionate at his craft. His fantastic abilities are noticed by Sang-yi, who works for a record company.

Sang-yi scouts out In-soo and onboards him to a project that may promise fame. This requires the two to inhabit the same living space as they work together.

However, their relationship doesn’t stay strictly professional for long.

This movie covers LGBTQ themes in a tender and wholesome manner. I found it to be a lovely watch that’s free of many hackneyed gimmicks.

If you enjoy the film and can’t get enough of the male leads’ sweet bond, you may also enjoy the drama series that shortly followed the movie release.

 

These films will introduce you to whole new worlds of entrancing love and shattering heartbreak.

So before you tune into any one of them, it’s best to emotionally prepare yourselves and have a full box of tissues next to you.

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