Korean monster movies are gruesome, humorous, and on a different level. Much of what we anticipate from popular American horror films is at odds with the style of horror found in Korean cinema.
These movies focus more on delving into the darkest recesses of the human brain, where evil thoughts sprout like deadly mushrooms, than on rapid cuts and jump scares.
In movies like “Oldboy” and “I Saw The Devil,” which show the evil any individual is capable of, violence is planned and treated as an art form; there isn’t a single clear lousy guy in these movies.
The bad guy can be anyone. In the 2010s, South Korean horror films experienced a meteoric rise in popularity, introducing a wealth of excellent films to a global audience.
With this collection of some of South Korea’s best monster movies, you may explore the evolution of South Korean horror. Please read on
1. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
“A Tale of Two Sisters,” directed by Kim Jee-woo, is a ghost story that is both tragic and horrifying. Teenage Su-mi (Im Soo-Jung) has returned to the farm with her father (Kim Kap-soo), younger sister Su-Yeon (Moon Geun-young), and stepmother Eun-Joo after being recently released from a mental institution (Yum Jung-ah).
Su-mi begins to notice unusual occurrences in and around their house as she attempts to establish an uncomfortable routine with the chilly Eun-Joo.
Also, Su-mi experiences nightmares about her deceased mother, a ghostly girl who appears under the sink, and she believes Eun-Joo is mistreating her younger sister.
Do not be misled: Kim has a few surprises up his sleeve in “A Tale of Two Sisters,” which is not your typical ghost story., and it is the prototypical Korean horror movie, chock-full of tragedy and jump scares.
“A Tale of Two Sisters” aspires to be more than spooky. It aims to delve deeply into the audience’s emotions and enter their minds. Also, A Tale of Two Sisters” is a horror experience rather than just a scary movie.
2. The Red Shoes (2005)
The Red Shoes, one of the South Korean monster movies, draws inspiration from the same-named story by Hans Christian Andersen, published in 1845.
In the movie, a young woman named Sun-Jae (Kim Hye-Su), who had recently ended her marriage, picks up a pair of already cursed red shoes at the railway station and brings bad luck to everyone around her.
How the supernatural horror and criminal investigative subgenres are successfully combined in the film will keep audiences on edge the entire time.
The movie’s use of color and music is also noteworthy; they increase the intensity of the parts that demand it and make viewers choke along with the characters. Last but not least, the cast gives an excellent performance.
3. Acacia (2003)
Acacia, a horror movie by Park Ki-Hyung, is about a contented couple who cannot have children and reside in a metropolitan suburb. So they go to the orphanage and adopt Jin-Seong (Mun Oh-Bin).
But after giving birth to their first child. The love for Jin-Seong gradually fades, leading to his departure, and the ominous events follow. All of these start with the acacia tree Jin-Seong loved to play with.
The film’s soundtrack and breathtaking photography enhance the tension-filled atmosphere that the plot creates.
The acting in the main cast is also excellent, especially Mun Oh-Bin, who portrays a young actor believably and creepily. This is one of the best Korean monster movies.
4. Thirst (2009)
Park Chan-wook has never been mentioned before on this list, but it most likely won’t be the last. Thirst, a fascinating, seductive, and gruesome vampire story by Park, offers a novel viewpoint on the overdone subject.
A priest named Sang-Hyun (Song Kang-ho) is secretly in love with married woman Tae-Ju (Ok-bin Kim) and is questioning his Christian faith. Sang-Hyun offers to participate in a vaccine trial for a deadly virus to demonstrate his devotion to God.
However, the experiment fails, and he becomes a vampire. Sang-Hyun tries to suppress his growing need for human blood but ultimately gives in to his appetite. This is one of the best Korean movies.
5. The Wailing (2016)
The Wailing is Korea’s response to Christian-themed horror movies emphasizing the conflict between God and the Devil.
In contrast, a religious epic about Korean mysticism and ceremonial activities, including an elaborate but fruitless exorcism, is shown in Na Hong-2016 jin’s movie.
A mysterious illness that causes residents of the small rural village of Gokseong to go insane and commit horrible crimes is plaguing the community.
The entrance of a Japanese guy (Jun Kunimura), who lives on the outskirts of town, is connected to the spate of killings.
Police investigator Jong-goo (Kwak Do-won) starts investigating the cause of the disease as the death toll climbs and his daughter contracts the illness. He needs a solution, and his family eventually seeks help from a shaman.
6. Killer Toon (2013)
The Red shoe director Kim Yong Gyun is the first Korean filmmaker to create a film based on the Killer Toon webcomic concept.
Ji-Yun (Lee Si-young), a well-known manga artist whose life was quickly flipped upside down by her editor-in-mysterious chief’s demise, is the movie’s protagonist.
Soon, a series of horrific murders took place, and Ji-account Yun’s of how they were carried out was remarkably accurate. This led to some significant concerns. This is one of the best Korean monster movies.
Furthermore, Killer Toon has a built-in thought process and a masterfully interwoven plot that, if viewers aren’t paying enough attention, can seriously perplex them.
Although there aren’t many jumpscares in the movie, the excellent use of cartoon methods and effects amplifies every gory scene’s brutality and mysterious nature.
7. Oldboy (2003)
Look no further than Park Chan-2003 Wook’s vengeance movie “Oldboy” for some traditional Korean savagery. Dae-Su (Choi Min-Sik) has spent the last 15 years confined to the same space.
He doesn’t know why or by whom they took him. He is suddenly released one day, prompting him to start looking for those responsible for ruining his life so that he can exact his revenge.
Dae-plot su’s for retaliation is complicated along the road when he develops feelings for a young chef. Also, the movie “Oldboy” has it all: Choi eating a live octopus, the famous battle with a hammer in a hallway, stunning disclosures, and a terrible conclusion that hits you square in the gut.
This movie has many twists and turns, conspiracies, and falsehoods; when you think you know where it’s going, Park surprises you.
Although “Oldboy” is difficult to see, it’s well worth it if you can handle it. In the next films in his Vengeance Trilogy, which also includes “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” and “Lady Vengeance,” director Park, who has extraordinary creativity, explores the richness and complexity of vengeance.
8. Cinderella (2006)
Bong Man-Cinderella Dae is not a South Korean adaptation of a well-known fairy tale, despite the name.
The story centers on the family that runs the tiny, affordable plastic surgery practice owned by Hyun Soo (Shin Se Kyung).
As a result of their trust in her, Hyun Soo’s friends invited themselves over to her house to change how she looked. After that, several unexplained occurrences seem connected to her early life.
By skillfully utilizing acute camera angles, eerie lighting, and disconcerting hues, the film is willing to critique South Korea’s abuse of plastic surgery and its detrimental ramifications.
The film succeeds in its genre despite a few plot gaps because of its unique and imaginative approach. Another strong point is the outstanding performance by the actors. This is one of the best Korean monster movies.
9. Death Bell (2008)
Death Bell’s main plot is around the mass murder of 20 students in a prestigious class because of an obsession with success and a bribe given to the teacher to get a spot in the class.
The death starts when a mysterious voice commands the kids to finish an exercise or else they will pass away one by one over the speaker.
In addition to making great use of music, Death Bell uses various violent murder techniques to inflict a haunting, oppressive environment on the audience.
Despite having all the hallmarks of a horror film, the movie also serves as a cautionary tale about South Korea’s obsession with academic achievement.
Where failing a university exam is one of the main causes of suicide. Moreover, the lead actress, Nam Gyu Ri, also made an incredible acting debut with her performance, which opened up more career options for her.
10. I Saw the Devil (2011)
The heartbreakingly cruel 2011 serial murderer movie “I Saw The Devil” by Kim Jee-Woon illustrates the hopelessness of retaliation. A serial killer named Jang Kyung-Chul (Choi Min-Sik) preys on defenseless young girls.
The pregnant Jang Joo-Yun (Oh San-ha) is his most recent victim, and he raped, killed, and dismembered her before dispersing her body parts in streams.
Joo-fiance Yun’s Kim Soo-Hyun (Lee Byung-hun), an agent for the National Intelligence Service, swears retribution against the monster who killed her after her ear is found.
However, the focus of this film isn’t on his hunt for Kyung-Chul. In this film, Kyung-Chul is tortured by Soo-Hyun because he won’t let him die peacefully and quickly.
Everyone is unhappy in this excruciating game of cat and mouse, where nobody wins. This is one of the best Korean monster movies.
11. Train to Busan (2016)
Early in the decade of the 2010s, zombies were at their peak, but gradually they overflowed the monster genre to the point that they were more funny than frightening.
However, the 2016 movie “Train To Busan” by Yeon Sang-ho provided zombies the boost they required and made the monsters once more frightful.
Despite his best attempts, Seok-woo Seo (Gong Yoo), a workaholic, has a tight connection with his little daughter. He takes her to Busan to make things right.
But as soon as an infected passenger boards the train and starts dispersing the zombie virus throughout it, this routine trip suddenly turns fatal.
Furthermore, the rate at which passengers change is worrisome, and survivors attempt to block off cars to protect themselves.
But with such little room, surviving gets more challenging as they go closer to Busan. This is one of the best Korean monster movies.
12. The Host (2006)
The Host, a movie about environmental monsters, is directed by Bong Joon-ho and achieves what Bong does best: it combines great horror with an emotional core and an overarching social message.
An American scientist directs the release of formaldehyde into Korea’s Han River, harming the environment there. Also, the river’s fish are perishing, and the frogs there are beginning to appear odd.
A mutant amphibious creature makes its way out of the river one day and causes havoc on the riverfront. One of those impacted is local thug Park Gang-du (Song Kang-ho), who runs a snack shop with his father Hee-bong, daughter Hyun-Seo (Go Ah-sung), and daughter (Byun Hee-bong).
During the confusion, they separate, and Hyun-Seo becomes stuck in the sewers with the monster.
13. The Divine Fury (2019)
Everything is in “The Divine Fury,” including MMA battles, demons, exorcisms, and martial arts. After losing his father as a young child, martial artist Yong-hu (Seo-Joon Park) turned away from religion.
And like any good religious horror film, his faith is tested as he encounters the paranormal.
In this instance, Yong-hu experiences stigmata and turns to priest and exorcist Father Ahn for guidance (Ahn Sung-ki).
Also, Yong-condition hu’s grants him abilities that enable him to defeat demons that control human hosts.
When a club owner figuratively strikes a deal with the Devil, Yong-hu and Ahn learn of a larger scheme as they fight side by side, tentatively forging a father-son bond. This is one of the best Korean monster movies.
14. Bedevilled (2010)
Prepare for a nasty vengeance thriller that centers on a lady who has had enough. Bok-Nam (Seo Small-hee), a repressed housewife, lives on a remote island with her abusive husband.
Her menacing neighbors and young daughter in “Bedevilled,” Jang Cheol-2010 soo’s directorial debut. She is instructed to follow her spouse, and whatever abuse she endures is entirely her own.
Then, Bok-Nam sees an opportunity to flee with her daughter to Seoul when an old acquaintance (Hwan Geum-hee) pays a visit. This is one of the best Korean monster movies.
15. Monstrum (2018)
Huh, Jong-“Monstrum” ho’s achieves a difficult-to-find balance between a period piece and a creature movie. King Jungjong was in power in 1527 when the movie was set (Park Hee-soon).
A virus has decimated the nation, and there are reports of a man-eating monster scouring the mountains and eliminating victims.
General Yun Kyum (Kim Myung-min) is given the mission by the king to learn the truth and apprehend the perpetrators of these crimes. A bloodbath occurs next.
Also, the monster is giant and is based on the chaetae, a creature with a lion’s head, a single horn, and scales.
However, technically speaking, the director Heo Jong-claim ho, ‘s that “Monstrum” is based on a true story is actual.
A horrible plague had recently spread across Korea, and during the Joseon period, there was talk of something devouring people.
Heo would give life to the “what ifs,” even if it were never confirmed to be an absolute beast. This is one of the best Korean monster movies.
16. Wishing Stairs (2003)
The lone female filmmaker on this list, Yun Jae-Yeon, created the ghost story “Wishing Stairs” (2003), set at an all-girls art school. Despite being the third movie in the “Whispering Corridors” series, it has nothing to do with the first two.
According to the legend of the “Wishing Stairs,” if you ascend a particular set of stairs and find the 29th step, you can make a wish, and a fox spirit will grant it.
This is helpful when Yun Jin-sung (Song Ji-Hyo) and Kim So-hee (Park Han-byul), two friends competing for a position in a top dance institution, develop a savage rivalry.
Furthermore, after trying the stair trick and realizing it works, Jing-sung naturally wishes to be admitted to ballet school. This is one of the best Korean monster movies.
17. Possessed (2009)
Hee-jin (Nam Sang-mi) returns home in “Possessed” after her younger sister So-jin (Shim Eun-Kyung) vanishes. Her overly devout mother (Kim Bo-Yeon), who refuses to involve the police in the hunt for So-jinn, is waiting for her.
But later, a neighbor takes his own life, revealing that more than one neighbor thought So-jinn genuinely was possessed.
Police officer Tae-hwan (Ryoo Seung-Ryong) is sucked deeper and deeper into a genuinely unique and frightening case as Hee-jin has increasingly strange and terrifying dreams.
However, like “The Wailing,” this movie explores contemporary Korean shamanism and how it differs from more modern Catholic doctrines.
18. Forgotten (2017)
The 2017 drama “Forgotten,” written and directed by Jang Hang-jun, is challenging to describe without giving essential plot details.
The setup is as follows: When Jin-Seok (Kang Ha-neul) and his family move into a new home, Jin-Seok has the unsettling impression that he has already lived there.
However, within a few days, strange noises begin emanating from a restricted area, and it appears you are ready to live out a terrifying haunted home tale.
Yoo-Seok, the brother of Jin-Seok (Kim Mu-Yeol), is then taken,n hostage.Nineteen9 days later, he returns, but he has changed. He no longer has a limp, but his demeanor has changed slightly.
19. Warning: Do Not Play (2019)
In the 2019 movie “Warning: Do Not Play,” written and directed by Kim Jin-won, there is a rumor about a ghostly movie.
A budding filmmaker named Park Mi-Jung (Seo Yea-Ji) is also attempting to find inspiration for her upcoming feature.
Also, she learns via a trusted acquaintance that chaos broke out at the movie premiere, resulting in numerous fatalities, including one from a heart attack. Moreover, the issue is resolved.
However, everyone Park encounters as she looks for answers cautions her against going further. However, Park publishes a statement online in which she requests contact with anyone who knows anything about the movie or the location where they shot it.
The film director, Jae-Hyun (Jin Sun-kyu), reacts, but she is only more perplexed by his messy appearance and odd conduct.
20. The Handmaiden (2016)
One of the greatest visionary actors of our time is Park Chan-wook. Through screwy, erotic psychology, he gets to delve into depths of the human experience that go beyond the boundaries of the medium itself. He speaks a distinct poetic language in much of his work.
“The Handmaiden,” a 2016 movie from Park, is a three-part tapestry of greed, desire, and betrayal with stunning cinematography from the director of photography Chung-hoon Chung.
A handmaiden named Sook-hee (Kim Tae-Ri) is caught in a sinister, alluring web when she visits Lady Hideko’s opulent home at the request of her co-conspirator Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo).
Furthermore, in this place, nothing is ever as it seems. For starters, Sook-hee and Fujiwara are planning to take the wealth of Hideko’s family. This is one of the best Korean monster movies.
21. Alive (2020)
It’s challenging to think of anything else to say about the genre of zombie movies, given how common they have become in recent years.
So, yeah, I was taken aback by “Alone,” a 2020 movie written and directed by Cho Il-Hyung and based on a short tale by Matt Naylor.
Il-Hyung takes the audience on an emotionally charged roller coaster ride while fully embracing the zombie apocalypse.
And its bizarre laws (be aware that it should come with a trigger warning; the film depicts attempted suicide by hanging).
Joon-woo (Yoo Ah-in), the main character, is introduced as your average Gen Zer who is preoccupied with technology.
Also, when the epidemic occurs, we witness him playing video games with his friends while various devices flicker around him. This is one of the best Korean monster movies.
22. The Evil Twin (2007)
Two girls tumble into the ocean in The Evil Twin, but only So Yeon (Park Shin Hye) is saved, and she spends the following ten years in a coma.
One by one, the people responsible for her sister’s death mysteriously disappear when she awakens, casting doubt on her whereabouts.
The best part of the movie must be Park Shin Hye’s performance, in which she played two characters convincingly.
The film’s excellent use of music, camera angles, and lighting also fit the era it is set, adding to the tension and suspense the villagers feel as death draws near.