The Korean film industry has redefined the horror genre. So I thought it’s right to bring you this list of Korean horror movies to help you plan your movie nights.
Scary movies are so much fun! The thrill of being scared, the adrenaline rush at the jump scare, and the final relief that, hey it was just a movie.
These films are my guilty pleasure. I especially like Korean horror movies as they don’t just rely on gore or predictable jumpscares.
Related: List of Koreaen Gangster Movies
Related: List of Korean Romantic Movies
Related: List of Korean Thriller Movies
There’s always a psychological element to Korean horror films that increases the fear factor.
In fact, a lot of these movies make astute commentaries on Korean society, class system, culture, family, and more through the medium of horror.
So it’s a very fulfilling and entertaining watch!
I’ve compiled a list of Korean horror movies that I absolutely got nightmares after watching. And if you love the kick that being scared gets you, these movies are perfect!
Korean Horror Movies 2021
A Tale Of Two Sisters
One of the most mind-bending Korean horror movies out there, A Tale Of Two Sisters is famous for its legendary plot twist.
I won’t spoil it for you, but this movie definitely needs multiple watching as you can pick up clues leading up to the twist.
The movie tells the tale of Su-Mi a young girl who returns home to her family after staying in a mental asylum.
This movie was one of the highest grossing films on release, and has got a Hollywood remake too!
Year Of Release: 2003
Starring: Su-jeong Lim, Lim Su-jung, Kab-su Kim, Jeong-Ah Yeom
Directed By: Kim Jee-woon
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum
You know what’s scarier than Korean horror movies, the fact that some of them are based on real life events and places.
Like this movie is based on the Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital in Gwangju, a town located in the Gyeonggi Province of Korea.
Even CNN has listed this abandoned hospital as the one of the freakiest places in the world!
What I loved about Gonjiam is that this is a found footage movie which adds to its eerie appeal.
Year Of Release: 2018
Starring: Seung-Wook Lee, Ye-Won Mun, Ji-Hyun Park, Sung-Hoon Park
Directed By: Beom-sik Jeong
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Train To Busan
One of the best Korean horror movies on Netflix, and perhaps the best zombie apocalypse movie ever made is Train To Busan.
I was on the edge of my seat during the whole of this movie.
The movie starts when Seok-woo takes his daughter Su-An on a (what else?) train to busan to meet his estranged wife.
And when an infected passenger gets in the train, all hell breaks loose!
Train to Busan isn’t just a Korean blockbuster, it was both critically acclaimed and successful internationally.
Year Of Release: 2016
Starring: Jung Yoo-mi, Kim Soo-ahn, Kim Eui-sung, So-hee Ahn
Directed By: Yeon Sang-ho, Sang-ho Yeon
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Loved Train to Busan? Here’s another zombie story from South Korea.
Alive is the tale of a lone survivor of a zombie apocalypse in a Korean town. The film was shot before the 2020 pandemic.
But what we’ve all gone through the past few months, makes this movie about a man in lockdown in his house, strangely relevant.
Year Of Release: 2020
Starring: Ah-in Yoo, Park Shin-hye, Chae Kyung Lee, Hyun-Wook Lee
Directed By: Il Cho
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
If you thought no one can do possessions better than Japanese horror movies, you are wrong. The Wailing is a gut-wrenching story of a father trying to get a cure for his daughter’s mysterious illness.
There’s also a historical element to the story about the Korea’s conflict with Japan.
The movie is a bit of a slow burn, but boy are the goosebumps worth it!
Year Of Release: 2016
Starring: Jung-min Hwang, Jun Kunimura, Chun Woo-hee, Han-Cheol Jo
Directed By:Na Hong-jin
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 99%
Dark, seductive, and awfully scary, this moive ain’t no Twilight that’s for sure!
A reimagining of the classic vampire tale, Thirst is the story of Sang-hyun, a former catholic priest who finds himself thirsty for blood after a failed experiment.
The film chronicles Sang-hyun’s journey to stay faithful to his religious values, while his desire for blood grows.
Year Of Release: 2009
Starring: Ok-bin Kim, Shin Ha-Gyun, Kim Hae-suk, Oh Dal-su
Directed By: Park Chan-wook
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Hansel And Gretel
You know horro movies with kids have always scared me the most. Something about the juxtaposition of innocence and darkness is always scary.
Hansel and Gretel follows Hollywood classics like Children of the Corn and gives out a very eerie vibe.
In the movie, Eun-soo finds himself lost in a forest and rescued by a little girl who brings him home to her brother and parents.
But all is not what it seems in this picture perfect home and Eun-soo soon fears for his life.
Year Of Release: 2007
Starring: Jin Ji‑hee, Chun Jung‑myung, Shim Eun‑kyung
Directed By: Yim Pil-sung
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
What you’ll find impressive about South Korean horror movies is that they are not just there to scare you, they often make a comment about real life horrors as well.
The Host, direct by Bong Joon Ho (yes, the Oscar winning director of Parasite), is a critique of the US governments pollution of the Seoul river.
In this movie, this real life pollution incident gives rise to a sea monster that takes little Hyun-seo hostage.
The rest of the movie is part scary, part funny, and very poignant tale of Hyun-seo’s family trying to get her back.
Year Of Release: 2007
Starring: Song Kang Ho, Park Hae-il, Byun Hee-bong, Doona Bae
Directed By: Bong Joon Ho
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Epitaph tells three gruesome tales set in a hospital in Japan-occupied Korea.
There’s creepy romance, a scary ghost tormenting a young woman, and a man who unravels a terrifying mystery.
The movie has beautiful cinematography and a haunting score that will keep you hooked!
Year Of Release: 2007
Starring: Ko Joo‑yeon, Kim Bo-kyung, Kim In‑yeong
Jin Goo, Park Ji‑Ah
Directed By: Jung Bum-shik, Sik Jung
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
If you love a classic ghost tale, you should definitely watch The Mimic.
The story revolves around Hee-yeon, a young mother grieving the loss of her toddler daughther Jun-Seo.
When she moves into a new home near a forest, she hears tale about a local folk legend. A creature that can mimic other people.
Soon, Hee-yeon finds a little girl in the woods and brings her home. The scary part? She sounds just like Jun-Seo her dead daughter!
Year Of Release: 2017
Starring: Yum Jung‑ah, Park Hyuk-kwon, Heo Jin, Hae-yeon Gil
Directed By: Huh Jung
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
If you’re the kind of person who loves some good old fashioned blood and gore and can’t deal wtih any psycho babble, watch Bloody Reunion.
It’s a dark, bloody take on Agatha Christie’s famous novel And Then There Were None.
Mi-Ja is the caretaker of the elderly former teacher Ms. Park. One day, she invites twelve of Ms. Park’s old students on a reunion dinner.
Things start going awry when a mysterious killer begins to pick off the students one by one.
Year Of Release: 2006
Starring: Seo Young‑hee, Mi‑hee Oh, Lee Dong Kyu, Park Hyo‑jun
Directed By: Dae-wung Lim
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
The Red Shoes
This movie is a based off an old Hans Christen Anderson fairytale, but make no mistake it’s not a childrens’ movie in any shape or form.
Sun-jae, the main character in the movie finds a pair of high heeled shoes on the subway and decides to take them home.
As usual, eerie things start happening around the shoes. Most notably, Sun-jae’s best friend dying.
Sun-jae then decides to look up the history of the shoes to find the cause of the mysterious curse.
Year Of Release: 2005
Starring: Kim Hye‑soo, Kim Sung‑soo, Go Su‑Hee, Yeon‑ah Park
Directed By: Kim Yong-gyun
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 55%
The Death Bell
Listen… Any teenager will tell you that the scariest thing in the world isn’t vampires, ghosts, or zombies, but life-deciding final exams.
And this is exactly what the Death Bell is about. A little bit of Saw mixed with Hunger Games, and you’ll get the Death Bell.
A thrilling horror tale who need to answer questions in their Gosu or midterms exactly correctly to spare themselves and their classmates from a horrible death.
Year Of Release: 2008
Starring: Lee Beom-soo, Yoon Jung-hee, Nam Gyu-ri, Kim Bum, Son Yeo-eun
Directed By: Chang, Nayato Fio Nuala
Rating on Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
Scary movies are really cathartic in my opinion. They are entertaining, thrilling, and make for a good time pass.
But Korean horror movies are a class apart as their plots, cinematography, direction, etc. make for such an intelligent and interesting flick.
Here I’ve made a list of Korean horror movies I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
Maybe you can binge-watch them on a Saturday night. Or if you dare, play them on your date night!