Korean Cinema

by ChristopherEdell | created - 28 Dec 2012 | updated - 01 Dec 2013 | Public

A list of all Korean films I have seen.

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1. Oldeuboi (2003)

R | 120 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

8.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
74 Metascore

After being kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in five days.

Director: Chan-wook Park | Stars: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang, Dae-han Ji

Votes: 406,999 | Gross: $0.71M

A bizarre story that excels in offering constant mystery and intrigue, this film contains many layers of complexity that a single viewing would leave one deprived of its beauty. Stylish and fresh, this films is one of a kind. A favorite of mine, not just in Korean cinema, but of all film in general.

2. Kim Bok-nam salinsageonui jeonmal (2010)

Not Rated | 115 min | Action, Crime, Drama

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A woman subject to mental, physical, and sexual abuse on a remote island seeks a way out.

Director: Cheol-soo Jang | Stars: Yeong-hie Seo, Seong-won Ji, Min-ho Hwang, Min Je

Votes: 10,290

The variation from typical protagonist momentum allows this story to reach different avenues of emotional impact. A beautifully executed piece that deserves far more praise than the accolades already received.

3. I Saw the Devil (2010)

Not Rated | 142 min | Action, Drama, Horror

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
67 Metascore

A secret agent exacts revenge on a serial killer through a series of captures and releases.

Director: Jee-woon Kim | Stars: Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, Joon-hyeok Lee, In-seo Kim

Votes: 83,064 | Gross: $0.13M

Dark, disturbing, violent, and a touch of sociopathic socializing peppered in to character motivations to boot. An amazing addition to Jee-woon Kim's existing directorial features.

4. Mother (2009)

R | 129 min | Action, Crime, Drama

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
79 Metascore

A mother desperately searches for the killer who framed her son for a girl's horrific murder.

Director: Joon-ho Bong | Stars: Hye-ja Kim, Bin Won, Goo Jin, Je-mun Yun

Votes: 32,457 | Gross: $0.55M

Hye-ja Kim's performance was fantastic. Rarely can actors portray characters so bereft and melancholic, yet exude such a beautiful grace that Hye-ja Kim has. Her performance elevated this film from marvelous story to work of art.

5. Memories of Murder (2003)

Not Rated | 132 min | Action, Crime, Drama

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
82 Metascore

In a small Korean province in 1986, three detectives struggle with the case of multiple young women being found raped and murdered by an unknown culprit.

Director: Joon-ho Bong | Stars: Kang-ho Song, Sang-kyung Kim, Roe-ha Kim, Jae-ho Song

Votes: 82,304 | Gross: $0.01M

A historic piece that revolves around Korea's first serial killer case, it does an exceptional job with its cinematography, creating a wonderfully moody feature. Highly recommended.

6. The Chaser (2008)

Not Rated | 125 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
64 Metascore

A cash-strapped pimp and former police detective draws upon the skills of his old job to track down his missing stable of prostitutes.

Director: Hong-jin Na | Stars: Yun-seok Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Yeong-hie Seo, Yoo-Jeong Kim

Votes: 43,361

The central serial killer theme takes a backseat to dynamic character development and the political struggle of a Korea's weakened legal system, shooting this story's overall identity far ahead of other counterparts from the West.

7. The Host (2006)

R | 120 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
85 Metascore

A monster emerges from Seoul's Han River and focuses its attention on attacking people. One victim's loving family does what it can to rescue her from its clutches.

Director: Joon-ho Bong | Stars: Kang-ho Song, Hee-Bong Byun, Hae-il Park, Doona Bae

Votes: 77,599 | Gross: $2.20M

A monster movie, with Korean cinema's uniqueness intact. A great introduction to international films for those who enjoy the creature treatment.

8. Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA (2000)

Not Rated | 110 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
58 Metascore

In the DMZ separating North and South Korea, two North Korean soldiers have been killed, supposedly by one South Korean soldier. But the 11 bullets found in the bodies, together with the 5 ... See full summary »

Director: Chan-wook Park | Stars: Yeong-ae Lee, Byung-hun Lee, Kang-ho Song, Tae-woo Kim

Votes: 21,110

Although definitely a flawed film, the 2nd Act was wonderfully executed, and is what lingers with you well after viewing. It begins as if it's going to be your typical military action flick, but quickly changes into a more humanistic piece, with humor, joy and sadness mixed in with great impact. For any Chan-Wook fan it's a must see considering it was his first major feature.

9. 3-Iron (2004)

R | 88 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
72 Metascore

A transient young man breaks into empty homes to partake of the vacationing residents' lives for a few days.

Director: Ki-duk Kim | Stars: Seung-yeon Lee, Hee Jae, Hyuk-ho Kwon, Jeong-ho Choi

Votes: 42,071 | Gross: $0.24M

Despite having a bizarre 3rd Act, which I've read lends to a for more metaphorical interpretation, the film achieves a certain charm that is original and leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. The fact that the two major character are never seen speaking (with two exceptions on one character's part) the movie has a rare elegance and uniquely conveys a sense of romance.

10. Geon-chook-hak-gae-ron (2012)

118 min | Drama, Romance

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

35-year-old architect Seung-Min receives a visit at his office from a woman. Seung-Min doesn't recognize the woman at first, but then realizes the woman is Seo-Yeon. Seo-Yeon is his first ... See full summary »

Director: Yong-Joo Lee | Stars: Tae-woong Eom, Ga-in Han, Je-hoon Lee, Suzy Bae

Votes: 2,292

Love stories are frequently lost on me, but there are some which sneak through the emotional cracks. Personally, they must go beyond the boy/girl archetypes to offer unique circumstances and well thought out character development. This film did exactly that.

11. In-lyu-myeol-mang-bo-go-seo (2012)

Not Rated | 115 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

5.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

The First Chapter of The Anthology Film- In A Brave New World, a mysterious virus brings the city to ruins and zombies flood the streets of Seoul. The Chapter 2, The Heavenly Creature, a ... See full summary »

Directors: Pil-sung Yim, Jee-woon Kim | Stars: Doona Bae, Joon-ho Bong, Ji-hee Jin, Yun-hie Jo

Votes: 2,795

12. My Sassy Girl (2001)

Not Rated | 123 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Based on a series of true stories posted by Ho-sik Kim on the Internet describing his relationship with his girlfriend. These were later transformed into a best-selling book and the movie ... See full summary »

Director: Jae-young Kwak | Stars: Tae-hyun Cha, Ji-hyun Jun, In-mun Kim, Wok-suk Song

Votes: 39,852

Despite its seemingly common plot-line, this variation on the theme is well complimented by the Korean structure. The acting left something to be desired in the humor department (when compared to American counterparts), but fortunately the story's originality shines through and makes it a fun watch.

13. Castaway on the Moon (2009)

116 min | Drama, Romance

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A failed suicide attempt leads a heartbroken man to live a life in the wilderness.

Director: Hae-jun Lee | Stars: Jae-yeong Jeong, Ryeowon Jung, Yeong-seo Park, Mi-kyeong Yang

Votes: 12,580 | Gross: $3.73M

I have an urge for black bean noodles.

14. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)

R | 129 min | Action, Crime, Drama

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
56 Metascore

A recently laid off factory worker kidnaps his former boss' friend's daughter, hoping to use the ransom money to pay for his sister's kidney transplant.

Director: Chan-wook Park | Stars: Kang-ho Song, Ha-kyun Shin, Doona Bae, Ji-Eun Lim

Votes: 51,353 | Gross: $0.05M

The first installment of Chan-Wook's Vengeance trilogy, now overshadowed by it's successor, Oldboy. Heavily criticized for its extreme violence upon release, it's now considered an important film that shows that Chan-Wook's intent (as seen with his later films) was far more complex than at first glance.

15. Lady Vengeance (2005)

R | 115 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
75 Metascore

After a thirteen-year imprisonment for the kidnap and murder of a six-year-old boy, Guem-Ja Lee seeks vengeance on the man truly responsible for the boy's death. With the help of fellow ... See full summary »

Director: Chan-wook Park | Stars: Yeong-ae Lee, Min-sik Choi, Shi-hoo Kim, Yea-young Kwon

Votes: 59,429 | Gross: $0.21M

Although weakened in rating when compared to its predecessor, Oldboy, standing alone it is still a well thought out film adhering to the vengeance motif. Chan-Wook continues to impress.

16. Sseo-ni (2011)

124 min | Comedy, Drama

7.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Seven girls become good friends in high school, then events pull them apart for 25 years. When one of the friends lies dying in a hospital, she wishes to see each of them one last time.

Director: Hyeong-Cheol Kang | Stars: Ho-jeong Yu, Eun-kyung Shim, Hee-kyung Jin, Min-yeong Kim

Votes: 3,642

A fun, girl-power character study that definitely has its comedic moments.

17. I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK (2006)

Not Rated | 105 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A girl who thinks she is a combat cyborg checks into a mental hospital, where she encounters other psychotics. Eventually, she falls for a man who thinks he can steal people's souls.

Director: Chan-wook Park | Stars: Soo-jung Lim, Rain, Hie-jin Choi, Byeong-ok Kim

Votes: 19,865

18. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

R | 115 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
65 Metascore

A family is haunted by the tragedies of deaths within the family.

Director: Jee-woon Kim | Stars: Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum, Soo-jung Lim, Geun-young Moon

Votes: 47,047

19. Hansel and Gretel (2007)

TV-14 | 117 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

After meeting an mysterious girl on an dark stretch of road, a young salesman is invited to a beautiful house with bizarre secrets and no way to escape.

Director: Pil-sung Yim | Stars: Jeong-myeong Cheon, Eun Won-jae, Eun-kyung Shim, Ji-hee Jin

Votes: 3,683

20. Saam gaang yi (2004)

R | 125 min | Horror

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
66 Metascore

An Asian cross-cultural trilogy of horror films from accomplished indie directors.

Directors: Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike, Chan-wook Park | Stars: Bai Ling, Byung-hun Lee, Kyoko Hasegawa, Pauline Lau

Votes: 16,863 | Gross: $0.08M

21. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003)

R | 103 min | Drama, Romance

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
85 Metascore

A boy is raised by a Buddhist monk on an isolated floating temple where the years pass like the seasons.

Director: Ki-duk Kim | Stars: Ki-duk Kim, Yeong-su Oh, Jong-ho Kim, Young-min Kim

Votes: 67,332 | Gross: $2.38M

Despite having beautiful cinematography, the subject matter makes it a difficult recommendation. With the plot being a glimpse into the life of a monk, each chapter separated by many years in the attempt to show the seasons of the monk's life from child to old man, the slowness and minimal dialog bring the film to an act of meditation itself.

22. A Bittersweet Life (2005)

120 min | Action, Drama

7.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Things go wrong for a high ranking mobster when he doesn't proceed by his boss's orders.

Director: Jee-woon Kim | Stars: Byung-hun Lee, Min-a Shin, Yeong-cheol Kim, Jung-min Hwang

Votes: 28,613

An homage to American gangster films, with Scorsese references scattered throughout. If you're a fan of gang-related action flicks, this will certainly be enjoyable. But, if you're looking for an original story and great character development, continue your search.

23. The Man from Nowhere (2010)

R | 119 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A quiet pawnshop keeper with a violent past takes on a drug-and-organ trafficking ring in hope of saving the child who is his only friend.

Director: Jeong-beom Lee | Stars: Bin Won, Sae-ron Kim, Tae-hoon Kim, Hee-won Kim

Votes: 49,564 | Gross: $0.01M

A fun film, although nowhere near as complex in character or storyline when compared to many of the other stellar Korean films abound.

24. Thirst (2009)

R | 133 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
73 Metascore

Through a failed medical experiment, a priest is stricken with vampirism and is forced to abandon his ascetic ways.

Director: Chan-wook Park | Stars: Kang-ho Song, Ok-bin Kim, Hae-suk Kim, Ha-kyun Shin

Votes: 34,432 | Gross: $0.30M

An interesting take on the vampire tale. I desperately wanted Chan-wook Park to reinvent the mythology, but felt that it was just another instance in the endless surplus of the genre. Regardless, Chan-wook Park does a good job as always.

25. Geomi sup (2004)

R | 112 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

6.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A recently widowed TV producer is drawn to an isolated cabin in a mysterious woods.

Director: Il-gon Song | Stars: Woo-seong Kam, Jung Suh, Kyung-hun Kang, Hyun-sung Jang

Votes: 1,864

26. Jigureul jikyeora! (2003)

Unrated | 118 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
70 Metascore

Byeong-gu believes that the world is on the verge of an alien invasion, and sets out to save the world.

Director: Joon-hwan Jang | Stars: Ha-kyun Shin, Yun-shik Baek, Jeong-min Hwang, Jae-yong Lee

Votes: 6,791 | Gross: $0.01M

27. A Moment to Remember (2004)

117 min | Drama, Romance

8.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A Korean love story about a young couple's enduring love, which is tested when 27 year old Sun-jin is diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer's disease.

Director: John H. Lee | Stars: Woo-sung Jung, Ye-jin Son, Jong-hak Baek, Sun-jin Lee

Votes: 17,820

Everything below this point are unseen films on my TODO list.

28. Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)

R | 140 min | Action, Drama, War

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
64 Metascore

A drama about the fate of brothers forced to fight in the Korean War.

Director: Je-kyu Kang | Stars: Dong-gun Jang, Bin Won, Eun-ju Lee, Hyeong-jin Kong

Votes: 33,970 | Gross: $1.11M

29. Oasis (2002)

133 min | Drama, Romance

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
79 Metascore

An irresponsible and childish ex-con befriends a girl with cerebral palsy and develops a progressively stronger bond with her.

Director: Chang-dong Lee | Stars: Kyung-gu Sol, So-ri Moon, Nae-sang Ahn, Seung-wan Ryoo

Votes: 6,014

30. Welkkeom tu Dongmakgol (2005)

Not Rated | 133 min | Comedy, Drama, War

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Soldiers from both sides of the Korean divide live among villagers who know nothing of the war.

Director: Kwang-Hyun Park | Stars: Jae-yeong Jeong, Ha-kyun Shin, Hye-jeong Kang, Ha-ryong Lim

Votes: 5,566

31. Bakha satang (1999)

129 min | Drama

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Consists of five phases of a man's life about why he committed suicide in the end.

Director: Chang-dong Lee | Stars: Kyung-gu Sol, Yeo-jin Kim, Jung Suh, So-ri Moon

Votes: 5,794

32. Do-ga-ni (2011)

125 min | Action, Crime, Drama

8.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Based on real events, this film depicts the story of a school for the hearing-impaired where young deaf students were sexually assaulted by the faculty members over a long period of time.

Director: Dong-hyuk Hwang | Stars: Yoo Gong, Yu-mi Jung, Hyeon-soo Kim, Kim Jee-Young

Votes: 6,268

33. Ddongpari (2008)

Not Rated | 130 min | Crime, Drama

7.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A bitter loan shark strikes a friendship with a troubled schoolgirl as he faces his own troubled past with his abusive father.

Director: Ik-joon Yang | Stars: Kkobbi Kim, Hwan Lee, Ik-joon Yang, Jeong-soon Park

Votes: 4,012

34. Joheunnom nabbeunnom isanghannom (2008)

R | 130 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
69 Metascore

The story of two outlaws and a bounty hunter in 1940s Manchuria and their rivalry to possess a treasure map while being pursued by the Japanese army and Chinese bandits.

Director: Jee-woon Kim | Stars: Kang-ho Song, Byung-hun Lee, Woo-sung Jung, Je-mun Yun

Votes: 28,681 | Gross: $0.13M

35. Shi gan (2006)

Not Rated | 97 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
73 Metascore

To save her relationship, a woman puts herself through extensive plastic surgery.

Director: Ki-duk Kim | Stars: Jung-woo Ha, Ji-Yeon Park, Jun-yeong Jang, Gyu-Woon Jung

Votes: 10,480 | Gross: $0.01M

36. Nae yeojachingureul sogae habnida (2004)

123 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The heart-warming romance story between Kyungjin and Myungwoo. Even though he has passed away, he will be always with Kyungwoo forever.

Director: Jae-young Kwak | Stars: Ji-hyun Jun, Hyuk Jang, Su-ro Kim, Ki-woo Lee

Votes: 5,872

37. Simpan (1999)

26 min | Short, Drama

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Two different families claim the body of a woman killed in a catastrophe.

Director: Chan-wook Park | Stars: Hak-rak Choi, Ju-bong Gi, In-bae Ko, Sun-mi Myeong

Votes: 812

38. Geuddae geusaramdeul (2005)

102 min | Comedy, Drama, History

7.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  
68 Metascore

A look at the life of President Park Chung-hee and the events leading up to his assassination.

Director: Sang-soo Im | Stars: Suk-kyu Han, Yun-shik Baek, Jae-ho Song, Eung-soo Kim

Votes: 1,155 | Gross: $0.01M

39. Swiri (1999)

R | 125 min | Action, Crime, Drama

6.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
50 Metascore

South Korean agents Ryu and Lee are tracking a female assassin from North Korea who has mysteriously disappeared. With new killings and the theft of a deadly bomb, time is running out to catch her.

Director: Je-kyu Kang | Stars: Suk-kyu Han, Min-sik Choi, Yunjin Kim, Kang-ho Song

Votes: 7,270 | Gross: $0.10M

40. Paranmanjang (2011)

30 min | Short, Fantasy

6.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A fisherman becomes entangled in his line when he catches something unexpected.

Directors: Chan-kyong Park, Chan-wook Park | Stars: Jung-hyun Lee, Kwang-rok Oh

Votes: 771

41. Geoul sokeuro (2003)

Not Rated | 113 min | Action, Crime, Fantasy

6.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

An ex-cop, now working as a security guard in a shopping mall, tries to uncover the secret behind a series of mysterious deaths linked to mirrors.

Director: Sung-ho Kim | Stars: Ji-tae Yu, Myung-min Kim, Hye-na Kim, Ju-bong Gi

Votes: 2,775

42. Yeon-ga-si (2012)

Not Rated | 109 min | Drama, Thriller

6.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Jae-hyuk is an ordinary man in his 40s. He works as a medical supplies salesman and is hassled by doctors all day. His brother Jae-pil is a detective that is not all that interested in ... See full summary »

Director: Jeong-woo Park | Stars: Myung-min Kim, Jung-hee Moon, Dong-wan Kim, Ha-nui Lee

Votes: 1,414

43. Gabal (2005)

106 min | Drama, Horror

5.5
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

In Seoul, Su-Hyeon is terminal with leukemia, and bald due the treatment of chemotherapy. Her sister Ji-Hyeon buys a long-haired wig, but she does not disclose the truth about Su-Hyeon's ... See full summary »

Director: Shin-yeon Won | Stars: Min-seo Chae, Jung-sung Lee, Kyeong-bin Rah, Hyeon-jin Sa

Votes: 1,070