South Korea has been producing high-quality movies and shoes for decades, particularly in the horror genre.
The best South Korean horror movies on IMDb are listed below. Parasite and, more lately, Squid Game has helped spark a genuine interest in Korean movies.
South Korea has consistently turned out high-quality movies for decades, several of which have received critical acclaim.
There is no question that South Korean horror movies, and Korean movies in general, are in a league of their own and have been for a long time.
This is true whether you’re looking for atmospheric, otherworldly horror, extremely nasty criminal thrillers, or good old-fashioned monster movies.
1. The Housemaid (1960)
- Director: Kim Ki-Young
- Star cast: Jin Kyu Kim, Jeung-Nyeo Ju, Eun-Shim Lee, Aeng-Ran Eom, Seon-Ae Ko, Sook-Rang Wang, and Seok-Je Kang
- IMDB rating: 7.3
The Housemaid, a 1960s black-and-white household melodrama, is widely regarded as one of the best South Korean horror movies.
It has inspired several subsequent Korean and foreign directors, including Bong Joon-ho, whose Oscar-winning movie Parasite was directly influenced by The Housemaid. Kim Dong-Sik is a piano instructor in The Housemaid.
His students are young ladies who work in a nearby factory. After Mrs. Kim decides to hire a housemaid to help out around the house, she and her family embark on a claustrophobic downward spiral that ends in tragedy.
The melodrama is chilling and fascinating, providing modern viewers a window into director Kim Ki-young’s outlook on the post-Korean war.
2. Hansel & Gretel (2007)
- Director: Pil-Sung Yim
- Star cast: Jeong-Yeong Cheon, Eun Won-Jae, Shim Eun-Kyung, Ji-Hee Jin, Hee-Soon Park, Kyeong-Ik Kim, and Lydia Park
- IMDB rating: 6.7
The classic story of Hansel and Gretel, two children who wander into the woods and come dangerously close to being devoured by a witch, is unsettling. Yet, this movie offers a much scarier version.
In the story, a man wrecks his vehicle in a forest, meets a local girl there, and ends up spending time with her family. However, returning to civilized society may be more challenging than expected.
His newfound family probably doesn’t want him to go elsewhere. The movie’s visuals are complex. Also, the fact that it’s set during the Christmas season helps it successfully balance the lightheartedness of the season with the dark fear of the main character’s predicament.
3. The Host (2006)
- Director: Bong Joon Ho
- Star cast: Song Kang-Ho, Byun Hee-Bong, Park Hae-Il, Ko Asung, Bae Doona, Jae-Eung Lee, and Dal-Su Oh
- IMDB rating: 7.1
Bong Joon-ho’s 2003 crime drama Memories of Murder had already attained cult status outside South Korea. However, The Host unexpectedly crashed its way into countless Best of Year lists, marking the next step of his journey to global dominion.
He eventually became well-known after winning the Best Picture Oscar for his 2019 movie, Parasite. In The Host, a mutant fish monster emerges from the Han River and feeds on the residents when an American military pathologist instructs his Korean aide to poison the river.
Park Gang-du, a street seller, and his family set out to rescue Park’s daughter after the monster kidnapped her. The Host is an intriguing and unconventionally toned movie that defies genre conventions until its climax.
Realizing that certain monsters may never be apprehended can leave you hopeless. The Host is among the best South Korean horror movies.
4. Alive (2020)
- Director: Il Cho
- Star cast: Yoo Ah-In, Park Shin-Hye, Jeon Bae-Soo, Hyun-Wook Lee, Hye-Won Oh, Kyu-Ho Lee, Woon Jong Jeon
- IMDB rating: 6.3
In this horror movie, a gaming streamer is trapped in his Seoul apartment as the Zombies army approaches. After making an initial online post to locate potential survivors, the internet, along with the water supply and the power grid, went down quickly.
Alive breathes new life into the zombie subgenre by focusing on the protagonist’s struggle to stay alive rather than on the zombies themselves or their origins.
This is done by incorporating concerns like social media alongside a genuinely frightening central character and an unlikely friendship between the protagonist and his next-door neighbor.
5. The Wailing (2016)
- Director: Na Hong-Jin
- Star cast: Jun Kunimura, Hwang Jung-Min, Kwak Do-Won, Woo-Hee Chun, Hwan-Hee Kim, Jin Heo, and Jang So-Yeon
- IMDB rating: 7.4
The Wailing, one of the best South Korean horror movies, is definitely out of the ordinary. It’s long for a horror movie at 156 minutes, but that’s only because it deserves to be. The movie started as a cop drama.
However, it quickly devolves into a horror story with demonic possessions, small-town paranoia, weird kids, deadly relatives, superstition, shamanism, and so on.
Though a lot is going on in The Wailing, it is surprisingly tense, keeping you on your toes to the tragic end.
In the movie, a mysterious Japanese man travels to a remote community in South Korea. Shortly after his arrival, locals start displaying signs of a weird virus which finally leads them to destroy their families.
When police look into one murder case, they encounter a mysterious lady who claims the stranger is responsible for the outbreak.
It’s up to one of the officers to figure out what’s going on before his daughter becomes the next victim when he finds his daughter’s jewelry at the stranger’s residence.
Strange, disturbing, and pulling you down a rabbit hole, this is unique horror that truly merits the accolades it earned at release.
6. A Tale of Two sisters (2003)
- Director: Jee-Woon Kim
- Star cast: Lim Soo-Jung, Jung-Ah Yum, Kim Kap-Su, Mi-hyeon Park, Seung-Bi Lee, Gi-Hong Woo, and Moon Geun-Young
- IMDB rating: 7.1
This movie has all the qualities of a classic psychological thriller, with family fatalities and dark history, and is directed by Kim Jee-Woon, who has directed many previous excellent horror movies.
The narrative is based on Joseon dynasty mythology and follows two sisters who return home from a mental institution only to find their harsh stepmother has caused havoc.
They have a lot going against them already, and then ghosts that want vengeance on them start showing up, and then some horrific family secrets start coming out.
Uninvited (2009), starring Emily Browning and Elizabeth Banks, is a remake of the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Korean horror movie A Tale of Two Sisters.
7. Bedevilled (2010)
- Director: Cheol-Soo Jang
- Star cast: Yeong-Hie Seo, Seong-Won Ji, Min-Ho Hwang, Min Je, Ji-Eun Lee, Jeong-Hak Park, and Jang-Hun Ahn
- IMDB rating: 7.3
Bedevilled, released in 2010, is one of the best South Korean horror movies. It’s a horror movie about a woman seeking retribution following her daughter’s death. The movie’s cynical and depressing tone comes from its treatment of certain disturbing topics.
As a horror movie, however, it rises head and shoulders beyond its contemporaries, providing viewers with uncompromising gore and carnage and a scary experience.
Bedevilled’s terrible sequences are explained away by a tortured and genuine emotional plot, which is more than can be said for other movies that include excessive and unneeded violence.
8. Train to Busan (2016)
- Director: Sang-Ho Yeon
- Star cast: Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-Mi, Ma Dong-Seok, Su-an Kim, Sohee, Choi Woo-Sik, and Kim Eui-Sung
- IMDB rating: 7.6
This movie has a somewhat different focus than other horror movies; it follows a father who risks everything to protect his daughter from a zombie invasion.
They board a train from Seoul to Busan, where they encounter a lady sick with a virus that can convert healthy humans into zombies.
One of Korea’s highest-grossing movies is Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan. Also by the same director is the animated prequel Seoul Station (2016), voiced by Ryu Seung-Ryong and Shim Eun-Kyung.
9. The Call (2020)
- Director: Chung-Hyun Lee
- Star cast: Park Shin-Hye, Jeon Jong-Seo, Kim Sung-Ryung, Oh Jeong-Se, Moon Chang-Gil, Park Ho-San, and Lee El
- IMDB rating: 7.1
One of the more recent South Korean horror movies works with a fascinating premise of a call stretching over time. In the same flat, two ladies from different eras share a home. That may not seem horrifying, but one of the ladies is a serial murderer.
It’s an atmospherically and narratively compelling movie. The concept of cross-contact has been explored before in movies, but The Call takes a fresh approach to the familiar subject.
10. The Silenced (2015)
- Director: Hae-Young Lee
- Star cast: Park Bo-Young, Won-Hee Go, Ryun Jo, Bo-Bi Joo, Ye-ji Kong, Dong-Hyun Kim, and Sun-Ah Lee
- IMDB rating: 5.7
The Silenced takes place in Korea at the time of the Japanese occupation. In this production, Park Bo-young portrays Joo-ran, a high school student.
Her weak health necessitated her transfer to a women-only boarding school in Keijo (modern-day Seoul).
It appears normal at first, but then one by one, her classmates vanish. When she experiences other unsettling changes in her body, such as greater strength and the inability to regulate her emotions, she is even more certain that something is wrong.
She and her closest friend Yeon-duk strive to escape after realizing that the females in the school are test subjects for a newly created medication by the Japanese.
However, it is not easy to escape since they discover a Japanese military base outside the school compound.
11. Hide and Seek (2013)
- Director: Jung Huh
- Star cast: Kim Hye-Yoon, Son Hyeon-Ju, Mi-Seon Jeon, Moon Jeong-Hee, Kim Ji-Young, Hwa-Ryong Lee, and Joon Won Jung
- IMDB rating: 6.4
Hide and seek is one of the best South Korean horror movies. When things go wrong during a game of hide and seek, the guilt rests squarely on your shoulders, provided you willingly joined in on the pranks.
Sung-soo runs a profitable company and enjoys a lavish lifestyle in his luxurious apartment. However, he has always been curious about his brother’s well-being, so he goes to see him in his rundown apartment.
Sung-soo recognizes his next-door neighbor Joo-hee over there. She begs Sung-soo to convince his brother not to spy on her and her daughter because she is frightened of him.
Sung-soo is perplexed by this and goes to look around the building. He finds that each apartment has a sign outside indicating the number of occupants and their gender.
Even when the signs arrive outside his apartment building and he’s drawn into a perverse game of hide and seek with the suspect, who is his brother Sung-soo has problems tracking him down.