Best of South Korea: Drama Movies

by d_smojver | created - 29 Nov 2012 | updated - 1 week ago | Public

South Koreans have several great social drama (most of them directed by Lee Chang-dong) and art drama (most of them directed by Kim Ki-duk)! Besides that, they have pretty good history drama: The King and the Clown, Masquerade, Untold Scandal, A Frozen Flower... There are also family drama, crime drama, sport drama and other types of drama on my list.

Kim Ki-duk is the director with the most titles here, which is reasonable, because that's his main genre and he is one of the greatest Korean and Asian filmmakers.

My other lists:

Best of South Korea: Action/Adventure Movies

Best of South Korea: Anime

Best of South Korea: Comedies

Best of South Korea: Crime Movies/Thrillers

ck]Best of South Korea: Horror Movies ck]

Best of South Korea: Romance Movies

Best of South Korea: War/Military Movies

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

R | 103 min | Drama, Romance

85 Metascore

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

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

Votes: 84,413 | Gross: $2.38M

2. Parasite (2019)

R | 132 min | Drama, Thriller

96 Metascore

Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.

Director: Bong Joon Ho | Stars: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-sik

Votes: 837,123 | Gross: $53.37M

3. The Handmaiden (2016)

Not Rated | 145 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller

84 Metascore

A woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but secretly she is involved in a plot to defraud her.

Director: Park Chan-wook | Stars: Kim Min-hee, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong, Moon So-ri

Votes: 154,378 | Gross: $2.01M

4. Mother (2009)

R | 129 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

79 Metascore

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

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

Votes: 66,832 | Gross: $0.55M

5. Poetry (2010)

TV-PG | 139 min | Drama

87 Metascore

A sixty-something woman, faced with the discovery of a heinous family crime and in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, finds strength and purpose when she enrolls in a poetry class.

Director: Lee Chang-dong | Stars: Yun Jeong-hie, Lee Da-wit, Kim Hee-ra, Ahn Nae-sang

Votes: 12,748 | Gross: $0.36M

6. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)

R | 129 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

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

Votes: 71,345 | Gross: $0.05M

7. Burning (2018)

Not Rated | 148 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

90 Metascore

Jong-su bumps into a girl who used to live in the same neighborhood, who asks him to look after her cat while she's on a trip to Africa. When back, she introduces Ben, a mysterious guy she met there, who confesses his secret hobby.

Director: Lee Chang-dong | Stars: Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jeon Jong-seo, Kim Soo-Kyung

Votes: 68,462 | Gross: $0.72M

8. Castaway on the Moon (2009)

PG-13 | 116 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

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

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

Votes: 18,880

9. Silenced (2011)

Not Rated | 125 min | Drama

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

Votes: 18,640

10. Peppermint Candy (1999)

Not Rated | 129 min | Drama

Following a man's suicide, time traverses back to reveal six chapters of his life on why he committed suicide.

Director: Lee Chang-dong | Stars: Sol Kyung-gu, Kim Yeo-jin, Moon So-ri, Se-beom Park

Votes: 9,949

11. Marathon (2005)

117 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

An autistic boy discovers he has a talent for running and with the help of the mother participates in a major marathon.

Director: Yoon-Chul Jung | Stars: Cho Seung-woo, Kim Mi-sook, Lee Ki-young, Sung-Hyun Baek

Votes: 2,417

12. Secret Sunshine (2007)

Not Rated | 142 min | Drama

84 Metascore

A woman moves to the town where her dead husband was born. As she tries to fit in, another tragic event overturns her life.

Director: Lee Chang-dong | Stars: Jeon Do-yeon, Song Kang-ho, Lee Dong-yong, Lee Hee-joon

Votes: 8,767

13. The King and the Clown (2005)

PG-13 | 119 min | Drama, History

Two clowns living in Korea's Chosun Dynasty get arrested for staging a play that satirizes the king. They are dragged to the palace and threatened with execution but are given a chance to save their lives if they can make the king laugh.

Director: Joon-ik Lee | Stars: Woo-seong Kam, Jin-young Jung, Seong-Yeon Kang, Lee Joon-Gi

Votes: 5,766

14. Thirst (2009)

R | 134 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

73 Metascore

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

Director: Park Chan-wook | Stars: Song Kang-ho, Kim Ok-bin, Hee-jin Choi, Seo Dong-soo

Votes: 48,854 | Gross: $0.30M

15. The Way Home (2002)

PG | 80 min | Drama

63 Metascore

Seven-year-old Sang-woo is left with his grandmother in a remote village while his mother looks for work. Born and raised in the city, Sang-woo quickly comes into conflict with his ... See full summary »

Director: Jeong-hyang Lee | Stars: Yoo Seung-ho, Eul-boon Kim, Hyo-hee Dong, Kyung-hyun Min

Votes: 5,664 | Gross: $0.44M

16. Once Upon a Time in High School: The Spirit of Jeet Kune Do (2004)

Not Rated | 116 min | Action, Drama, History

By "Fist of Fury", Kim Hyun-Soo (Sang-Woo Kwone) addicted to Bruce Lee. Year 1978. Hyun-Soo moved to KangNam, Seoul. Hyun-Soo transferred to JungMoon High, Maljuk Street, Kangnam, Seoul. He... See full summary »

Director: Ha Yoo | Stars: Kwon Sang-woo, Lee Jung-Jin, Ga-in Han, Hyo-jun Park

Votes: 2,658

17. Painted Fire (2002)

Unrated | 120 min | Biography, Drama, History

78 Metascore

In a time of political and social unrest in nineteenth-century Korea, an uncouth, self-taught painter explores his natural talent amidst the repressive world around him.

Director: Im Kwon-taek | Stars: Choi Min-sik, Sung-Ki Ahn, Ho-jeong Yu, Kim Yeo-jin

Votes: 2,754 | Gross: $0.06M

a.k.a. Drunk on Women and Poetry

18. Hope (2013)

Not Rated | 122 min | Drama

Story of an 8 year old girl coping with a gruesome rape damaging her internally and affecting emotionally, trying to overcome all obstacles in the aftermath of the incident with a good support from those around her.

Director: Joon-ik Lee | Stars: Re Lee, Sol Kyung-gu, Uhm Ji-won, Kim Hae-sook

Votes: 8,380

19. A Taxi Driver (2017)

Not Rated | 137 min | Action, Drama, History

69 Metascore

A widowed father and taxi driver who drives a German reporter from Seoul to Gwangju to cover the 1980 uprising, soon finds himself regretting his decision after being caught in the violence around him.

Director: Hun Jang | Stars: Song Kang-ho, Thomas Kretschmann, Hae-Jin Yoo, Ryu Jun-Yeol

Votes: 26,618 | Gross: $1.53M

20. Masquerade (2012)

Not Rated | 131 min | Drama, History

A look-alike commoner is secretly hired to take the place of a poisoned king to save his country from falling into chaos.

Director: Chang-min Choo | Stars: Lee Byung-hun, Seung-ryong Ryu, Han Hyo-joo, Kim In-kwon

Votes: 7,044 | Gross: $0.92M

21. Sunny (2011)

PG-13 | 124 min | Comedy, Drama

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, Shim Eun-kyung, Hee-kyung Jin, Min-yeong Kim

Votes: 6,156

22. Ode to My Father (2014)

Not Rated | 126 min | Drama, War

Amid the time of Korean War, a young boy's vow to take care of his family marked the beginning of a lifelong promise spanning 60 years.

Director: JK Youn | Stars: Hwang Jung-min, Yunjin Kim, Dal-su Oh, Jin-young Jung

Votes: 5,618 | Gross: $2.30M

23. 1987: When the Day Comes (2017)

Not Rated | 129 min | Drama, History, Thriller

In 1987 Korea under an oppressive military regime, the unlawful interrogation and death of a college student ignite ordinary citizens to fight for the truth and bring about justice.

Director: Joon-Hwan Jang | Stars: Kim Yoon-seok, Ha Jung-woo, Hae-Jin Yoo, Kim Tae-ri

Votes: 5,920

24. The Attorney (2013)

Not Rated | 127 min | Drama

55 Metascore

An ambitious tax attorney decides to represent an old friend in court.

Director: Woo-seok Yang | Stars: Song Kang-ho, Kwang Soo Cha, Kwak Do-won, Han Gi-Joong

Votes: 6,941 | Gross: $0.56M

25. Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? (1989)

Not Rated | 137 min | Drama

About three monks in a remote monastery; an aging master, a small orphan and a young man who left his city life to seek Enlightenment.

Director: Yong-Kyun Bae | Stars: Yi Pan-Yong, Sin Won-Sop, Hae-Jin Huang, Su-Myong Ko

Votes: 1,388

26. Breathless (2008)

Not Rated | 130 min | Crime, Drama

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

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

Votes: 5,415

27. Crossing (2008)

106 min | Drama

About a young boy in North Korea who wants to find his father who is forced to become a refugee in South Korea.

Director: Tae-gyun Kim | Stars: In-pyo Cha, Myeong-cheol Shin, Young-hwa Seo, In-gi Jeong

Votes: 1,243

28. A Brand New Life (2009)

92 min | Drama

Young Jinhee is taken by her father to an orphanage near Seoul. He leaves her there never to return, and she struggles to come to grips with her fate. Jinhee desperately believes her father will come back for her.

Director: Ounie Lecomte | Stars: Kim Sae-ron, Do Yeon Park, Ko Asung, Park Myung-shin

Votes: 2,431

29. Friend (2001)

Not Rated | 113 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Four childhood friends go their separate ways, two go off to college while the others become rival gangsters.

Director: Kyung-taek Kwak | Stars: Oh-seong Yu, Jang Dong-Gun, Tae-hwa Seo, Un-taek Jeong

Votes: 5,157

30. Crying Fist (2005)

134 min | Action, Drama, Sport

Tae Sik, a troubled middle aged man and Sang Hwan, a troubled youth will meet in the ring with their respective mission. To change their life.

Director: Seung-wan Ryu | Stars: Choi Min-sik, Seung-beom Ryu, Jeong-ah Bae, Kim Byeong-Ok

Votes: 3,062

31. The Net (2016)

114 min | Drama

A North Korean fisherman breaks his boat engine by accident and drifts down to South Korea. After enduring brutal investigations in the South, he eventually gets sent back to North Korea.

Director: Kim Ki-duk | Stars: Seung-beom Ryu, Lee Won-geun, Kim Young-min, Gwi-hwa Choi

Votes: 3,996

32. Kim Ji-young: Born 1982 (2019)

118 min | Drama

Kim Ji-yeong, an ordinary woman in her 30s, suddenly shows signs of being inhabited by others such as her late mother and older sister, and the stories of the people connected to her.

Director: Kim Do-Young | Stars: Jung Yu-mi, Gong Yoo, Kim Mi-Kyung, Kim Sung-cheol

Votes: 3,874

33. On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate (2002)

115 min | Drama

Actor Kyung Soo leaves Seoul to visit an old classmate. The reunion with his friend does not amount to much, but the trip does lead to some romantic encounters. He gets involved with two ... See full summary »

Director: Hong Sang-soo | Stars: Sang-mi Choo, Ji-won Ye, George Georgiou, Jeon Guk-hyang

Votes: 1,374

34. Take Care of My Cat (2001)

112 min | Drama

69 Metascore

In the port city of Icheon, five female friends struggle to stay close while forging a life for themselves after high school. When one of the group, upwardly-mobile Hae-ju, moves to Seoul, ... See full summary »

Director: Jae-eun Jeong | Stars: Bae Doona, Yo-won Lee, Ji-young Ok, Eung-ju Lee

Votes: 2,481 | Gross: $0.00M

35. Pieta (2012)

Not Rated | 103 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

72 Metascore

A loan shark is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle after the arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to be his long-lost mother.

Director: Kim Ki-duk | Stars: Min-soo Jo, Lee Jung-Jin, Ki-Hong Woo, Eunjin Kang

Votes: 15,075 | Gross: $0.02M

36. Broker (2022)

R | 129 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

77 Metascore

Boxes are left out for people to anonymously drop off their unwanted babies.

Director: Kore-eda Hirokazu | Stars: Song Kang-ho, Gang Dong-won, Bae Doona, Ji-eun Lee

Votes: 10,451

37. The Isle (2000)

Not Rated | 90 min | Drama, Thriller

61 Metascore

Working at a fishing resort in an idyllic location, but surrounded by various facets of human unpleasantness, a young mute woman falls in love with a man on the run from the law for committing murder.

Director: Kim Ki-duk | Stars: Jung Suh, Yu-seok Kim, Jae-Hyun Cho, Hang-Seon Jang

Votes: 14,237 | Gross: $0.02M

38. Tunnel (2016)

TV-14 | 126 min | Drama, Thriller

68 Metascore

A man is on his way home when the poorly constructed tunnel he is driving through collapses, leaving him trapped.

Director: Seong Hun Kim | Stars: Ha Jung-woo, Bae Doona, Dal-su Oh, Shin Jeong-geun

Votes: 9,432

39. Sea Fog (2014)

Not Rated | 111 min | Drama, Thriller

61 Metascore

A fishing-boat crew takes on a dangerous commission to smuggle a group of illegal immigrants from China to Korea.

Director: Sung-bo Shim | Stars: Kim Yoon-seok, Yu Chun Park, Yeri Han, Moon Sung-Keun

Votes: 3,678

40. On the Beach at Night Alone (2017)

101 min | Drama

80 Metascore

An actress wanders around a seaside town, pondering her relationship with a married man.

Director: Hong Sang-soo | Stars: Kim Min-hee, Young-hwa Seo, Jae-yeong Jeong, Moon Sung-Keun

Votes: 4,304 | Gross: $0.04M

41. Bad Guy (2001)

Not Rated | 100 min | Drama, Romance

49 Metascore

An unfeeling gangster seeks to ruin the life of a young girl who rejected him. He forces her into prostitution and spies on her regularly, then he soon begins to fall for her.

Director: Kim Ki-duk | Stars: Jae-Hyun Cho, Won Seo, Yun-tae Kim, Choi Deok-moon

Votes: 10,169

42. The Face Reader (2013)

PG-13 | 140 min | Drama

About Nae-kyung who is able to assess the personality, mental state and habits of a person by looking at his face. Because of his abilities, he gets involved in a power struggle between Prince Sooyang and Kim Jong-Seo.

Director: Han Jae-rim | Stars: Song Kang-ho, Lee Jung-jae, Yun-shik Baek, Jo Jung-Suk

Votes: 2,649 | Gross: $0.52M