Grab your popcorn and your favorite drink because we’re going to talk about the Best Korean Movies!
We’ve compiled our list of films shown in South Korean cinema that are perfect for watching if you want to learn Korean. Of course, we’ve also included tips on how to do that at the end of this article! Exciting, right?
Definitely, Korean cinema has a vast lineup of choices. If you still aren’t able to find the next film that you’re going to watch, then this is the article for you. There’s definitely something for everybody here! This way, you can have fun and learn a thing or two with your next film, so read on!
Best Korean movies for learning Korean
South Korea’s films definitely have lots to offer. The list below features movies to start with if you want to familiarize yourself with the language and even the Korean culture. These Korean movies are a mix of exciting and educational in terms of learning Korean words.
We’ll be adding more to this list, so stay tuned!
1. Parasite (기생충)
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Cast: Song Kang Ho, Lee Sun Kyun, Cho Yeo Jeong
In this movie, you’ll hear conversations between the main characters and their family, their employer, and their friends. This will show different levels of formality in their speech, which can help you distinguish how these sentences differ. Look out for the plot twists in this movie, too!
2. I Saw the Devil (악마를 보았다)
Director: Kim Jee Won
Cast: Lee Byung Hun, Choi Min sik, Jeon Gook Hwan, Kim Kap Soo
If you love scary movies, this is the movie to watch! The best part is you’ll get to practice Korean from the conversations too.
3. 3-Iron (빈집)
Director: Kim Ki Duk
Cast: Seung Yun Lee, Hee Jae, Hyuk Ho Kwon
Tae-suk (Jae-hee) is a lonely wanderer who seeks refuge in unoccupied vacation homes, but he goes beyond mere squatting. He expresses his gratitude by discreetly performing household chores and making improvements. But one day, when he mistakenly enters a seemingly empty house, he encounters an abused housewife (Seung-Yun Lee) who desperately requires his help, leading to an unexpected turn of events.
This movie is famous for its unique and captivating concept and minimalistic approach, coupled with stunning cinematography and strong performances despite having minimal dialogue.
4. Train to Busan (부산행)
Director: Yeon Sang Ho
Cast: Gong Yoo, Jung Yu Mi, Ma Dong Seok
The film’s intense and thrilling narrative is set in a confined space—a train overrun by zombies. But it’s not just filled with screaming and chasing action; the emotional aspect surrounding survival, sacrifice, and resilience makes the movie stand out even more.
But just a quick warning; this movie is not for the faint of heart!
5. Memories of Murder (살인의 추억)
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Cast: Song Kang ho , Kim Sang Kyung, Kim Roi Ha
This film is based on a true story about a captivating investigation of a serial killer in a small Korean town. The storytelling, cinematography, and thought-provoking exploration of human nature make it a must-watch crime thriller. Trust me; you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen!
6. Burning (버닝)
Director: Lee Chang Dong
Cast: Yoo Ah In, Steven Yeun, Jeon Jong Seo
Burning is filled with a rich dialogue that captures a range of everyday conversational Korean, making it an excellent film for learning Korean. This film provides learners with an authentic and contemporary understanding and usage of the language. Additionally, the movie’s engaging storyline, set in modern South Korea, offers insights into Korean culture, making it a language-learning tool and a window into Korean society and its nuances.
7. The Handmaiden ( 아가씨)
Director: Park Chan Wook
Cast: Kim Min Hee, Kim Tae Ri
“The Handmaiden” offers a complex narrative with rich, period-specific dialogue. If you’re already an advanced Korean learner, then this movie is for you. The film showcases intricate storytelling in a historical setting. This provides resources for formal and traditional forms of the Korean language.
8. Night in Paradise (낙원의 밤)
Director: Park Hoon Jung
Cast: Uhm Tae Goo, Jeon Yeo Been, Cha Seung Won
This film is useful for learning conversational Korean used in modern settings. The film’s dialogue focuses on informal speech and slang. This gives learners an understanding of the modern, everyday language used by native Korean speakers.
9. Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (신과함께)
Director: Kim Yong Hwa
Cast: Ha Jung Woo, Cha Tae Hyun, Ju Ji Hoon, Yu Jun Sang
This fantasy drama is a combination of modern and historical elements. That includes a diverse range of vocabulary and speech styles. The story is also very unique, which helps engage the learners with the language.
10. Lady Vengeance (친절한 금자씨)
Director: Park Chan Wook
Cast: Lee Young Ae, Choi Min Sik
With this film’s genre, “Lady Vengeance” features intense, emotion-driven dialogue. Learners will get various examples of expressive and nuanced Korean. Its dramatic storyline also helps the learners understand the emotional context and cultural subtleties within the language.
How to Watch a Korean Movie
Watching some fine films from South Korea with the intent of learning or practicing Korean is different from watching a movie for leisure. You’ll still have fun doing it, of course. However, there are a couple of things you can do to set yourself up for success.
1st viewing: Skip the subtitles
Start by watching the movie without subtitles. This will let you appreciate the film for what it is before diving into the language-learning portion.
2nd viewing: Turn on the subtitles
Most Korean language learners have an easier time reading the English translation first and then matching the subtitles to the words in Korean, so give that a shot first.
3rd viewing: Turn on Korean subtitles
Not only are you listening to the Korean words being spoken, but you’re also matching them to how they’re written in Hangeul as well. This can be extremely helpful as not all of the words you hear will be the words you expected them to be.
If you can’t read Hangeul yet, it is possible to learn Hangeul in just ninety minutes, so what are you waiting for?
4th viewing: Turn off all subtitles
After watching a South Korean film scene with English subtitles, try turning the subtitles off and watch the scene without any subtitles at all. At this point, you should understand most (if not all) of the conversation in the film without help from subtitles. Yay!
A good reason to learn Korean is to be able to understand Korean Movies without subtitles! One great method that we recommend for learning Korean is through our structured online course. You’ll be able to learn the language in 90 days.
Keep in mind; these steps are just recommendations for getting the most out of the studying part of watching Korean movies. Feel free to follow these steps some of the time or only for certain scenes or phrases you want to learn. They definitely take plenty of time and energy!
Many other South Korean films can help you improve your Korean. These are just a few of our favorite picks. If you prefer learning Korean through K-dramas instead, here’s an article for the best K-dramas to learn Korean.
If you want a list of Korean movies based on genres like romantic comedy, Korean war, action, or historical ones, you can also check out our separate article about Korean movies. This article features other classic movies like Peppermint Candy, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring, and more.
Let us know in the comments below which films we should add to this list and which ones you think are the best movies for studying Korean!