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7 Best Korean Movies to Watch During the Second Wave

Any list of the best Korean movies would be incomplete without masterpieces by Bong Joon Ho and Park Chan Wook, but if you’ve seen them all like I have and are hungry for more great Korean movies, here are some lesser known gems that I immensely enjoyed this fall.

Korean entertainment is experiencing a golden age that can’t be pigeonholed into any one or two genres. The list below is a testament to the wide range of categories where Korean filmmakers are thriving, and the international audience is lucky to be able to stream such high quality movies during the second wave of pandemic staying at home.

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Here are 7 of the best Korean movies I saw this fall plus a few that I regret wasting time on.


1. The King

Best Korean Movies
Grand Bell Award, Best Original Screenplay Han Jae-rim

This movie was recommended to me as the Korean Wolf of Wall Street, and it’s a great description for the movie. The King is all in on wealth, power, corruption, and debauchery, and the unfolding story will likely leave you infuriated but mesmerized. While imaginatively exploring serious historical events in Korean politics, there is plenty of humor to keep you entertained while educating you on the power dynamics that make Korean prosecutors possibly the most dangerous people in Korea.

I usually stick to the free options on Netflix and Prime Video, but this one was well worth the 2.99 on Prime Video.


2. Coin Locker Girl

Best Korean Movies
Baeksang Award Winner, Best Director Han Jun-hee

“A stylish, confident directorial debut for screenwriter Han Jun-hee, this glowering crime thriller set in Incheon’s Chinatown district is mightily powered by the combustible performances of its two leads, major star Kim Hye-soo as a deadlier-than-the-male female mobster and rising ingénue Kim Ko-eun as an orphan she has reared to do her dirty work but who finally turns against her adopted mother,” –Hollywood Reporter.

Get ready for some gruesome scenes…

Free to stream on Prime Video.


3. Little Forest

Best Korean Movies
Korean Association of Film Critics Awards, Best Film

*Foodie Must Watch!*

This little gem by South Korean director Yim Soon-rye will have you yearning for the simple life you never knew you wanted. An endearing and understated celebration of authentic Korean food, friendship, and family, Little Forest is about a young woman (Aegi ssi, for Mr. Sunshine fans!) who moves back to her childhood farming village and discovers the things that truly make her happy.

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You’ll be inspired by the amazing farm to table cooking scenes and wondering why you aren’t drying your own persimmons.

Free to stream on Prime Video.


4. Always

Best Korean Movies

You’ll be reminded of An Affair to Remember in this intensely sentimental movie. From the orphan and the blind girl to her puppy and the sick turtle, this movie is the whole shebang, but it works! Director Song Il-gon’s intent here is not to avoid the clichés of sentimentality but to embrace them boldly in this powerful story of how far we’re willing to go for love. No critical acclaim for Always, but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless.

Free to stream on Prime Video.


5. World of Us

Best Korean Movies
National Assembly of Korea Awards, Best Film

Korean kids know how to bully! World of Us is a soft hued delicate look at the sometimes brutal world of children. I was fully invested in the euphoric highs and devastating lows felt by the youngsters in this beautifully restrained film.

Free to stream on Prime Video.


6. Monster Boy

Best Korean Movies
Korean Association of Film Critics Awards, Best New Actor Yeo Jin-goo

For his second film, Jang Joon-hwan aims to explore and expand the concepts of family and parenthood in the framework of a classic Korean revenge thriller. Get ready for twists and turns with some unexpected tenderness among hardened killers.

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Free to stream on Prime Video.


7. Jeronimo

Best Korean Movies

Documentaries rarely make me cry. This one did! Joseph Juhn, a fellow NY lawyer, traveled to Cuba to find a thriving but small community of Koreans with heart-breaking roots in Cuba. Korean diaspora is everywhere!

Free to stream on Prime Video.


Bonus

Here are some critically acclaimed movies I regret watching. You might like them but I wish I could have my 8 hours back!

? Miss Baek

? The Royal Tailor

? House of Hummingbird

? Masquerade


Click for more great recommendations on the best Korean dramas and films to watch from home…

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