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Over the past two decades, Korean cinema has slowly built an American audience. Streaming services have played a large part in that, introducing viewers to modern classics like The Host, A Tale of Two Sisters, and Oldboy. The best Korean movies on Netflix offer an excellent entry point into this foreign world of cinema. While Korean thrillers get the most attention, we’ve hunted down a few examples from other genres. Whether you want a romantic comedy, horror, sci-fi, or a disaster thriller, you’ll find something worth watching on this list. Here are the best Korean movies on Netflix right now.
The best Korean movies on Netflix
1) The Wailing (2016)
When officer Jong-Goo begins to investigate a series of murders caused by oddly sick people, he’s drawn into a war between reason and folklore. As the sickness hits his home, Jong-Goo has no choice but to reach out to a mysterious force to save the ones he loves. Blending police procedurals with black magic, this Korean nightmare serves up deeply upsetting horrors for our beloved hero to experience. Its gradual build lulls you into a sense of false security, but rest assured, you will never guess the path The Wailing takes.
2) Mother (2009)
Directed by The Host and Snowpiercer’s Bong Joon-ho, Mother continues the filmmaker’s tradition of taking familiar plots and twisting them into something new. When her special needs son is accused of murder, a mother takes it upon herself to uncover what really happened. Blending horrific crime with dark family humor, this simple mystery becomes a broader tale exploring the lengths people will go to atone for their own past mistakes.
3) Train to Busan (2016)
This South Korean smash hit broke audience records with over 10 million theatergoers during its theatrical run. Right as a train is departing a woman boards, nursing a bite wound on her leg. Soon she becomes a zombie, leaving hundreds of passengers trapped in the speeding vehicle as reports of a worldwide outbreak begin to spread. Exploring class issues between terrifying, and gory, set pieces, Train to Busan is one of the best zombie movies on Netflix—and of the last decade for that matter. Buckle in, and don’t be surprised if it makes you feel something by the end.
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4) Bluebeard (2017)
When a patient talking under sedation begins to confess to a series of murders, Dr. Seung-hoon is left chilled but unconvinced. Then bodies begin to stack up, leaving a bloody trail that forces Seung-hoon to consider the impossible. This slow-burning horror tale builds suspense by keeping its gore rare and brutal, and its haunting performances will stay with you long after the credits.
5) Forgotten (2017)
South Korean thriller Forgotten is a slick, twisty yarn. It’s also a blast. Jin-Seok gets caught up investigating his brother’s kidnapping, and each new thing he learns makes him question everything about his own life. Nothing is as plain as it seems, and our protagonist comes face to face with long-forgotten demons. Action master Jang Hang-jun’s film is a well-executed genre exercise that delivers an emotional wallop to go with its thrills and jaw-dropping reveals. —Eddie Strait
6) Sea Fog (2014)
The crew of the fishing boat Jeonjinho hasn’t had much luck recently but a new offer has come in: human trafficking. Tasked with transporting 30 illegal immigrants into Korea, the crew seems on the verge of success. Then the weather turns, and the Maritime Police notice their boat and an already dangerous situation plunges into a darkness that rivals the bottom of the ocean. Based on a true story, Sea Fog is a harrowing tale of human survival in the face of darkness.
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7) Lucid Dream (2017)
A South Korean riff on Inception, Lucid Dream follows a journalist, Dae-ho, working to find his son, who was kidnapped three years earlier. The investigation has gone cold, but an experimental technique allows Dae-ho to relive the day his son was taken through lucid dreaming. For a premise as inherently grim as a parent searching for a lost child, Lucid Dream is surprisingly fun. The investigations—taking place in dreamland and the real world—intersect in interesting ways, and the story is constantly upping the stakes. —Eddie Strait
8) The Beauty Inside (2015)
This high concept romantic comedy follows a furniture designer who wakes up in a different body every day. Constantly waking up as someone new is stressful, but not as stressful as trying to figure out how to reconnect with your girlfriend every day as a new person. Hysterical and thoughtful, The Beauty Inside takes a complicated idea and spins a heartwarming story around it.
9) Tunnel (2016)
While their American counterparts focus largely on nearly pornographic destruction, Korean disaster movies are often more intimate affairs centered around people. In Tunnel, a man finds himself trapped in his car when a tunnel collapses around him. With just two bottles of water and his daughter’s birthday cake for food, he must fight to survive while rescue workers struggle to set him free. The thrills are punctuated with moments of biting satire, giving this Tunnel extra unexpected depth.
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10) Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned (2016)
A few days after several of her friends disappear while exploring a cave, Sur-in is approached by a 30-year-old man who claims to be one of her lost friends. Explaining more would ruin the surprises that lay within this moving, occasionally tragic fairy tale. Just grab some tissues before you hit play. You’ll need them. This mind-bending fantasy won director Eom Tae-Hwa Best New Director at Korea’s 54th Grand Bell Awards.
11) A Violent Prosecutor (2016)
Framed for a crime he did not commit, prosecutor Byun Jae-Wook finds himself behind bars, plotting a revenge that requires someone on the outside. Creating a network of helpers by trading legal favors, Jae-Wook helps free a prisoner to act as his hands. But when the prisoner tries to double-cross him, the depth of Jae-Wook’s connections reveal themselves. This clever crime thriller packs an ocean of twists into its two-hour runtime, without ever wallowing in the darkness of films like Lady Vengence.
Need more ideas? Here are our Netflix guides for the best war movies, documentaries, anime, indie flicks, true crime, food shows, Westerns, and movies based on true stories streaming right now. There are also sad movies guaranteed to make you cry, weird movies to melt your brain, and standup specials when you really need to laugh. Or check out Flixable, a search engine for Netflix.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adapter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.