Grab your popcorn and your favorite drink—it’s time to study some Korean!
Korean study doesn’t have to be serious and formal. It’s quite helpful to mix it up by studying some Korean movies. Not only will you get some excellent listening practice, but the movies will make you more excited about learning the language.
The best Korean movies are not always the best movies for studying Korean. Therefore, you may need to compromise your artistic integrity a bit and watch more low-brow Korean movies if you are watching without subtitles.
It is also a good idea to avoid older movies as the language used in them is very different to modern Korean. As movies are often fast paced, be prepared to watch a movie (or parts of a movie) multiple times in order to follow it.
And now without further ado, here are some of the best Korean movies for studying the language!
**These movies are in no particular order
Korean Movie #1: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring (2003)
If you’re trying to watch movies without subtitles for the very first time, this movie is a great place to start! There is very little dialogue in “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring“, so you’ll be able to understand much more of what is happening to most Korean movies. This allows it to be used as a gateway for you to get used to watching movies without subtitles.
“Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring” follows the story of a young Buddhist monk and his master. We watch as the monk grows up and experiences life. This movie is often found on lists of recommended Korean movies and feels profound when you watch it.
Korean Movie #2: Castaway on the Moon (2009)
“Castaway on the Moon” is about a man whose failed suicide attempt leaves him stranded on a deserted island….in the middle of Seoul. His isolation, and that of the young woman who spies on him from her apartment, attempts to convey the feeling of loneliness that can come from living in a big city such as Seoul.
This movie feels very philosophical and make you feel as if you have learned something about yourself as well as some Korean.
Korean Movie #3: Oldboy (2003)
2003 was a big year for Korean filmmaking, and “Oldboy” had a lot to do with it! Even if you need to watch ths movie with subtitles, it is definitely worth watching.
Revenge is a big genre when it comes to Korean movies and Oldboy is a classic of that genre. It follows the story of a man who has been imprisoned for fifteen years and then released. He only has five days to find out the reasons for his imprisonment.
Korean Movie #4: Silmido (2003)
“Silmido” is based on the true story of Unit 684, a special unit recruited with the purpose of assassinating the North Korean leader Kim Il Sung. Unit 684 is sent to Silmido, an island near Incheon, for secret and extremely tough training.
When the movie was released, it was the highest grossing Korean film that had been made. It helped cause the government to publically acknowledge the events that occurred on Silmido and compensate the families of the victims.
Korean Movie #5: Chingu (2001)
As most Korean lessons and textbooks teach Korean as it is spoken in Seoul, people interested in learning the Busan dialect could find “Chingu” useful. This movie follows the lives of four friends living in Busan’s gangster underworld. It starts when they are young children, and continues into their adult lives.
Korean Movie #6: Haeundae (2009)
“Haeundae” builds up the character’s stories slowly before washing them all away in a giant tsunami. As the tsunami is the plot twist (although the English title ‘Tidal Wave’ kind of gives this away), the movie is very easy to follow.
Korean Movie #7: The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008)
“The Good, The Bad, The Weird” is a ‘Western’ movie that is very easy to follow and isn’t too fast paced for an action movie. It follows three Koreans (the titular good, bad, and weird) in the ‘Wild East’ of 1940’s Manchuria as they try to find some buried treasure whilst simultaneously avoiding the Japanese army. Lee Byung-Hun (GI Joe, Terminator Genisys) stars as ‘The Bad’.
Korean Movie #8: The Thieves (2012)
“The Thieves” is a standard heist movie similar to the Ocean’s Eleven franchise. As the plot is quite obvious, it is an easy movie to follow. That means that you can focus on the language. The movie is set in Macau and follows a gang of thieves who have to steal a large diamond. Rather obviously, things don’t go according to plan.
Korean Movie #9: Highway Star (2007)
If there was an award for the best Korean movie for learning about the kind of music that ajummas listen to, then “Highway Star” movie would win it!
Highway Star follows the story of a rocker who has to sing ‘trot’ music in order to make ends meet. He wears a mask so that people don’t know that he is a massive sell-out. It is an amusing movie and can teach people not familiar with Korea about a type of music that is very different from Psy or Big Bang.
Korean Movie #10: My Sassy Girl (2001)
“My Sassy Girl” is Korean classic. Although it is not easy to follow, it does involve situations that might actually be applicable to real life (such as helping a Korean who has drunk too much soju).
If you were unfortunate enough to watch the terrible Hollywood remake of this movie, then don’t be put off. This film is much much better! The realness of the characters in this movie is really refreshing, and makes it stay with you a long time after you finish watching it.
Korean Movie #11: How to Steal a Dog (2014)
As the two main characters in “How to Steal a Dog” are children, this light-hearted comedy is also quite easy to follow.
It may not be the best Korean movie ever made, but it is useful for improving your Korean. The plot follows a family that is bankrupt and lives out of a van. The girl mistakenly thinks that you can buy a house in Korea for five-hundred dollars (I wish!). She then tries to raise this amount by kidnapping a dog then returning it for the reward money.
Korean Movie #12: The Admiral (2014)
Want to mix in a bit of Korean history along with your movie-related language studies? Then “The Admiral” may be the movie for you! Known as 명량 in Korean, this film depicts what happened during the Battle of Myeongnyang at the end of the 16th century. If you like boats and battles, then this is the movie for you!
There are many other movies that can help you improve your Korean. Let us know in the comments below which movies we have missed, and which movies you think are the best Korean movies for studying Korean!Find this helpful? Share with your friends. They'll thank you for it!