The 10 scariest movies in Korean cinema

Neither funny videos, nor midnight prayers, nor even Disney movies will be able to get you out of the state of shock that Korean horror movies cause. Instead of focusing on quick cuts and jump scares, these productions explore – from science and psychology – the darkest corners of your thoughts, where your own survival instinct becomes your greatest enemy.

Diners shows you the scariest feature films from South Korea, featuring family revenge epics, ghosts and serial killers, as ranked by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, Imdb and Naver.

1. A Tale of Two Sister (2003)

Of Korean horror movies, this is a classic inspired by the popular tale of the Joseon dynasty, which ruled South Korea for five centuries. The story appeals to psychological terror as a recently released mental institution patient returns to the home of her stepmother, who has been dealing with evil spirits that build on the family’s troubled past.

The music, the narrative twists and the surprise ending make this film one of the heaviest in Korean cinema. Please never see her with minors. 

2. Killer Toon (2013)

The plot of this film intertwines reality and fiction through the story of an illustrator, whose life changes with the suicide of her editor-in-chief, followed by other strange deaths in her closest core. 

This film by Kim Yong Gyun -considered one of the masters of horror cinema- dispenses with quick cuts, to bring anime techniques to give brutality and terror to each scene.

3. Whispering Corridors (1998- 2021)

The fact that a franchise has been on the market for more than 20 years speaks of its success and popularity among fans and film critics. This is the case with Whispering Corridors, which follows the story of South Korean students who suffer from an academic obsession with being the best. 

In addition to portraying a reality of this country, it also has time to scare even the most fanatic of horror movies.

4. The Wailing (2016)

The arrival of a mysterious stranger in a Korean village coincides with the brutal murder of its inhabitants. Between horror and police film, The Wailing manages to create an atmosphere of mystery that awakens the terror of those who see it. According to Rotten Tomatoes, few people make it through the movie because of its lurid scenes.

5. Three… extremes (2005)

Although the director Takashi Miike is Japanese, the cast of this film is Korean. It is considered one of the master jewels of terror because it is inspired by true stories of torture that border on psychological aspects that are capable of disturbing viewers. There are even moments where nonsense things happen just to make the audience suffer. Three intertwined stories of revenge and torture that are not to be missed.

6. I saw the devil (2010)

If you like revenge stories and gore movies, this film by director Kim Jee Woon might interest you. This story begins with a taxi driver who crashes a woman and goes on the run to avoid accepting the charges. What he didn’t know is that her husband is a secret agent who wants to hunt him down for revenge. Although it seems like the classic game of cat and mouse, the director manages to make cuts in which he puts the viewer in the shoes of the taxi driver who is cornered by his hunter.

7. Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018)

What happens when young people sneak into an abandoned asylum to broadcast live on their social networks? See it in Gonjiam, a film that revives classic nightmares with psychological terror that doesn’t abuse special effects, thus delivering a suspenseful gem for those who want to debut in the world of Korean horror movies.

8. The Mimic (2018)

If you’re looking for a hair-raising sensory film with believable narratives, The Mimic is your story. Here they tell him about the life of a woman who is looking for her missing son in the middle of Mount Jang. While searching for her, he meets a mysterious girl who offers to help him in her mission. What can go wrong?

9. The Host (2006)

Has it happened to you that in the middle of a horror movie you get a nervous laugh that you can’t contain? This film will cause this, because from the comedy you can also scare the viewer. At least, this is what the director Bong Joon Ho believes -yes, the same one who won the Oscar for Parasite-, who ironically shows how a US military man pours chemicals into the Han River in South Korea, which years later causes the mutation of several local residents.

10. Save The Green Planet! (2003)

Various Korean media and blogs agree that this is a horror classic. Save The Green Planet! tells the story of Lee Byeong-gu, an office worker who kidnaps his boss because he believes that he is an alien leader who wants to wipe out humanity. He there he tortures him to confess his plans to an unexpected end. Rotten Tomatoes reviews that it is a tremendously clever non-genre film, which makes for a unique viewing experience.