list of korean thriller movies

List Of Korean Thriller Movies 2023 | 12 Crime And Thriller Films You Must Watch

Do you know that there is so much more to Korean movies than cheesy dramas and romcoms? 

The Korean film industry has been churning out so many masterpieces especially Korean thriller movies that have won accolades from cinema lovers worldwide.

 One of the most recent ones is “Parasite” that won the Oscars last year. So I thought why not make a list of Korean thriller movies for you to enjoy?

Related: Korean Romantic Movies

Related: Korean Action Movies

Their thriller movies, especially, have been a class apart. They are notorious for showing extremely brutal scenes. 

If you are a movie buff who would like to know more about these masterpieces, check out this article.  

Here, we take a look at some of the most binge-worthy Korean thriller movies that will make you fall in love with Korean cinema.

Korean Thriller Movies 2021

Joint Security Area

korean romantic thriller movie

Director: Park Chan- Wook

Year Of Release: 2000

Starring: Lee YEoung-ae, Lee Byung hun, Kang-ho Song

Rating: 7.8/ 10

When I knew that this film was inspired by the Japanese classic Rashomon, I did not need other reasons to watch Joint Security Area.

The film experiments with the Rashomon effect that was popularized by the classic film where counterarguments of a single situation shape the passage of the entire film. 

The story revolves around the death of two North Korean soldiers at the border between North Korea and South Korea. 

Sgt. Lee Soo-hyeok is assigned to investigate the matter but she gets conflicting accounts from both the accused. 

This is a film that brought Song Kang ho and Lee Byung Hun to the limelight. Other characters are portrayed by Kin-Tae Woo, Shin ha- Kyun and Lee Byung hun. 

The Wailing 

best korean horror movies

Director: Na Hong-jin

Year Of Release: 2016

Starring: Jun Kunimura, Jung-min Hwang, Do-won Kwak

Rating: 7.5/ 10

If you are a fan of supernatural and paranormal movies, you will be interested in this supernatural thriller directed by Na Hong-jin. 

It is a spooky movie that you shouldn’t probably watch alone. The story revolves around a mysterious man who arrives in a village in the mountains of South Korea and starts an infection. 

This causes the villagers to attack their families and kill them. Although this is a lengthy movie, I was thoroughly entertained from start to end. 

The film explores themes of Ancient mythology and rituals with unpredictable supernatural tropes. 

The Handmaiden

korean crime thriller movies

Director: Park Chan- Wook

Year Of Release: 2016

Starring: Kim Min-hee, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-Woong

Rating: 8.1/ 10

This is an erotic horror-thriller movie on the list that will keep you on your toes from beginning to end. 

This movie is the story of an heiress defrauded by her handmaiden who helps a conman steal her inheritance. 

The movie is set in Korea under Japanese colonial rule. I was looking forward to watching this film because of the excellent cast in it. 

The movie has won many awards and accolades including the 71st British Academy Film awards for the “Best Film Not in the English Language”


korean thriller movies 2021

Director: Kim Won-Suk

Year Of Release: 2016

Starring: Lee Je-hoon, Kim Hye-Su, Cho Jin-Woong

Rating: 8.6/ 10

If you are into thriller series and movies, this is the perfect show to binge on. This thriller televisions series is based on a series of real-life incidents that unfolded in Korea. 

The protagonist of this movie is a criminal profiler, Park Hae-young who solves a kidnapping case with a strange walkie-talkie that came in his hands.

The person at the other end of the walkie-talkie helps him solve many old cold cases that were hard to crack.

But who is the stranger at the other end of the line? Does the help come at a price? Watch this thriller to get your answers.


korean mind twisting movies

Director: Ahn Gil-Ho

Year Of Release: 2017

Starring: Cho Seung- Woo

Rating: 8.6/ 10

If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, you will definitely enjoy this Koran drama. 

Not only does it have an excellent storyline, but the casting, production, direction and even the character developments are top-notch. 

This Korean thriller drama series is created by Ahn Gil-Ho. It explores themes of politics, power and corruption. 

The show is carried down by roughly ten characters who are inevitable because of their roles. 

This is also a great choice if you are a beginner who is only starting to watch Korean movies since it gives a glimpse into the Korean culture. 


korean crime thriller movies imdb

Director: Jang Hang-jun

Year Of Release: 2017

Starring: Kang Ha-Neul, Yeon Je Hyung, Mu-Yeol Kim 

Rating: 7.5/10

This one again is for all the horror lovers out there. Forgotten is a scary and violent horror thriller film and it takes you through quite a ride.

Throughout the film, the audiences perception of the villain and the victim changes through different aspects. 

The audience is given a trigger earning since the movie contains some intense and violent scenes of torture.  

The story revolves around a South Korean family who moves into a new home where they hear strange noises and face strange occurrences. 


best korean thriller film

Director: Yu In-Sik

Year Of Release: 2019

Starring: Lee Seung-gi, Bae Suzy, Jung-hee Moon

Rating: 8.3/ 10

 I was super excited to watch this one because it starred one of my favourite Korean singers, Bae Suzy as the female lead. 

Vagabond is a South Korean television series that revolves around the life of an ordinary man who finds himself in not so ordinary situations. 

The male lead is Cha Dal Geon, a stunt man who wants to be a successful actor. After a series of events, he finds himself being a guardian for his niece who eventually dies in a plane crash. 

This is a highly engaging movie that was partly shot in Morocco. The actors have done complete justice to the characters and it will keep you entertained throughout the end. 

Save Me

thriller movie korea

Director: Kim- Sung Su

Year Of Release: 2017

Starring: Taec Yeon, Seo Yea-Ji

Rating: 8/ 10

Save me is a dark and powerful drama that is sure to catch your attention till the very end. This is one of my favourite shows for binge-watching. 

The story revolves around the life of a young couple who joins a cult after losing their son. 

They soon realise that the seemingly peaceful cult hides many dark secrets including dark secrets, violence, torture and murder. 

Seo Ye Ji has done an excellent job for the role of I’m Sang Mi and her character development is very interesting and empowering throughout the show. 

I Saw the Devil

detective korean movies 2021

Director: Kim Jee-Woon

Year Of Release: 2010

Starring: Park Hoon-Jung, Choi min sik, Jeon Gook-hwan

Rating: 7.8/ 10

This is one of the most exciting thrillers on the list. I saw the Devil is a story about a government agent who sets out to avenge the death of his wife. 

This is another movie that is not meant for the faint-hearted since it contains a lot of brutal and violent scenes of torture and brutality. 

The film goes through the protagonist’s grief and regret of not being with his wife and protecting her. 

The main characters are portrayed by Lee Byung-hun, Choi Min-Sik and Oh San-Ha. 

Memories of Murder

List of korean thriller movie

Director: Bong Joon- Ho 

Year Of Release: 2003

Starring: Kang- ho Song, Kim Sang-Kyung

Rating: 8.1/ 10

One of the most iconic thrillers that helped shape Korean cinema and mark its place in the world, Memories of murder is my all-time favourite film. 

It is a gripping tale of a series of rapes and murders that happened in a small town in Korea. A big-city detective decides to help the small-town cops to hunt down the perpetrator. 

The film has so many beautiful and impactful scenes like the night chase of a potential suspect and a lot of scenes in tunnels and trains that get intense as the movie progresses. 

The Chaser

scary korean movies

Director: Na Hong-jin

Year Of Release: 2008

Starring: Ha Jung-woo, Kim Yoon-Seok, Seo Young-hee

Rating: 7.8/ 10

The Chaser is a thriller about a serial killer who hunts down prostitutes and kills them all in a similar brutal way. He hammers a chisel into their head. 

Most of the time, the identity of the serial killer is concealed till the very end but in this case, the makers have revealed his identity within the first 20 minutes!

The protagonist has a very interesting role in this film who goes on to hunt down the serial killer because of the guilt feeling of being the pimp. 

The film has a fresh and unique script and I loved the casting of the film.


korean thriller series

Director: Park Chan-wook

Year Of Release: 2003

Starring: Choi Min-Sik, Kang Hye-Jung, Yoo Ji-Tae

Rating: 8.4/ 10

Oldboy is a story about a man who gets violently drunk and gets chained to a wall by the cops. 

But when his friend comes to pick him up, he suddenly disappears from there. The man then finds himself in a strange situation in a hotel room where he gets stuck for 15 years!

This film includes several scenes of revelation that will keep the audience on their toes. 

Every action in this movie has a definite purpose which makes this even more special.

Now that you know of some of the best Korean thriller movies, it’s high time you grab your popcorn and start binging on it. 

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