30 Critically Acclaimed Korean Movies

Hello and welcome back to another Top Korean Movies List content by EonTalk! Before, I had a list of “Top Korean Movies by Ratings,” where we looked at the Top 20 Korean films by the combined scores of audience and critics ratings. Following that list, there were requests of a list on just the critics rating. And so today, I have prepared just that. Today’s post will be on “30 Critically Acclaimed Korean Movies.”

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Before getting into the list, I’d like to clarify the criteria that I used to rank the movies. First, I looked at the list of Top Korean movies from the Korean Film Council, and amongst those, I looked up the critics scores on Naver, the Korean search engine. After compiling the data for the critics scores, I compiled the list of the Top 30 Korean movies by the critics ratings. Older films that did not have critics scores on Naver were not included in this list, such as <My Sassy Girl>, <A Bittersweet Life>, <A Moment to Remember>, etc.

Now then, that being said, let’s get right into the reveal of the Top 30 list.



Coming in at #30 was the action drama released in 2017, <Steel Rain>.

Directed by Yang Woo-Seok, who also directed <The Attorney> and the sequel to <Steel Rain>, <Steel Rain 2: Summit>. <Steel Rain> starred the likes of Jung Woo-Sung, Kwak Do-Won, Kim Gab-Soo, Kim Eui-Sung, Lee Kyung-Young, and Cho Woo-Jin, and I featured this video on my Best Korean Action Movies as well. The critics score of <Steel Rain> was 7.18.



At #29 was the Korean romance melodrama released in 2012, <Architecture 101>.

<Architecture 101> was directed by Lee Yong-Ju, who also did <Possessed>, and I featured this video recently in my Best Korean Romance Movies video. The cast lineup includes Uhm Tae-Woong, Han Ga-In, Lee Je-Hoon, Suzy, Jo Jung-Suk, and Yoo Yeon-Seok. The critics rating of <Architecture 101> was 7.19.



#28 was the 2016 movie titled <Tunnel>.

<Tunnel>, being directed by Kim Sung-hoon, the director of <A Hard Day>, starred the cast of Ha Jung-Woo, Bae Doo-Na, Oh Dal-Soo, Park Hyuk-Kwon, and Nam Ji-Hyun. <Tunnel>’s critics rating was 7.21. 



Coming in at #27 was one of my all time favorite Korean movies, <New World>.

<New World> was the movie that really got me into Korean films, and was directed by Park Hoon-Jung, who’s responsible for other great works such as <The Witch : Part 1. The Subversion>, <VIP>, and <The Tiger>. The film starred the amazing actors Lee Jung-Jae, Choi Min-Shik, Hwang Jung-Min, Park Sung-Woong, and Song Ji-Hyo. The rating by critics of <New World> was 7.22.



At #26 was the action comedy released last year that I highly enjoyed, <Exit>.

Directed by Lee Sang-Geun, <Exit> was able to make me LOL while also keeping me at the edge of my seat. The movie starred the likes of Jo Jung-Suk, Yoona of Girls’ Generation, Kang Ki-Young, Go Doo-Shim, Park In-Hwan, and Kim Ji-Young, and the critics score of <Exit> was 7.23. 



Next, the #25 spot goes to the 2017 film, <I Can Speak>.

<I Can Speak> was directed by Kim Hyun-Suk, who also directed <C’est Si Bon>, <11AM>, <Cyrano Agency>, and <Scout>, and this movie is a film you can’t judge by the trailers or posters. I featured <I Can Speak> in my Most Underrated Korean Movies video, and the cast lineup includes Na Moon-Hee, Lee Je-Hoon, Park Chul-Min, Yum Hye-Ran, Lee Sang-Hee, Lee Ji-Hoon, Jung Yeon-Ju, and Kim So-Jin. The critics rating of the film was 7.25. 



#24 was a Korean historical drama released back in 2012, <Masquerade>.

Directed by Chu Chang-Min, the director of other movies such as <7 Years of Night>, <I Love You>, and <Lost in Love>, <Masquerade> had great acting performances by Lee Byung-Hun, Ryu Seung-Ryong, Han Hyo-Ju, Kim In-Kwon, Jang Kwang, and Kim Eun-Kyung. The film was not only a great Korean historical drama, but also had many humorous scenes that kept it from being too serious. The critics score of <Masquerade> was 7.27. 



The #23 movie was the 2011 war film, <The Front Line>.

The director of <The Front Line> was Jang Hoon, who also did <Secret Reunion>, <A Taxi Driver>, and <Rough Cut>, and featured the actors Shin Ha-Kyun, Go Soo, Lee Je-Hoon, Ryu Seung-Soo, Go Chang-Seok, David Lee, Ryu Seung-Ryong, and Kim Ok-Bin. The critics rating was 7.34. 



The #22 spot was the 2013 drama film, <The Attorney>.

Yang Woo-Seok, who was mentioned earlier for directing <Steel Rain>, was the director for this film, and the list of cast members includes Song Kang-Ho, Kim Young-Ae, Oh Dal-Soo, Kwak Do-Won, and Lim Si-Wan. The critics score of <The Attorney> was 7.43. 



At #21 was another 2013 film, titled <Hope>.

Directed by Lee Jun-Ik, who’s responsible for other directorial works such as <The Throne>, <DongJu; The Portrait of A Poet>, <Happy Life>, <Radio Star>, and <King and the Clown>, <Hope> had the actors and actresses Seol Kyung-Ku, Uhm Ji-Won, Lee Re, Kim Hye-Sook, and Kim Sang-Ho. The critics rating of <Hope> was 7.46. 


The next 5 movies were tied for the #16 spot, all with the same critics score of 7.5. 


First, the 2017 film <The Fortress>.

<The Fortress> was directed by Hwang Dong-Hyuk, who also did <Miss Granny>, <Silenced>, and <My Father>. <The Fortress> starred Lee Byung-Hun, Kim Yoon-Suk, Park Hae-Il, Go Soo, and Park Hee-Soon. 



The other movie tied for the #16 spot was 2012 film that was one of the best crime Korean movies, <Nameless Gangster: Rules of Time>.

Directed by Yoon Jong-Bin, the director of <The Spy Gone North>, <KUNDO : Age of the Rampant>, and <Beastie Boys>, <Nameless Gangster> starred Choi Min-Shik, Ha Jung-Woo, Cho Jin-Woong, Don Lee aka Ma Dong-Seok, Kwak Do-Won, and Kim Sung-Kyun. 


The third film tied at #16 was the 2008 Korean thriller, <The Chaser>.

<The Chaser> was directed by Na Hong-Jin, who’s responsible for <The Yellow Sea> and <The Wailing>, and I included this film in my Best Korean Thrillers video, as this is one of the most suspenseful movies of Korean cinema. <The Chaser> starred Kim Yoon-Suk, Ha Jung-Woo, and Seo Young-Hee.



Next, 2016 film <The Age of Shadows> was another movie tied at the #16 spot.

Directed by the amazing Kim Ji-Woon, who directed other amazing films such as <I Saw the Devil>, <The Good The Bad The Weird>, <A Bittersweet Life>, <A Tale of Two Sisters>, and the not-so-good <Illang: The Wolf Brigade>, <The Age of Shadows> had the actors Song kang-Ho, Gong Yoo, Han Ji-Min, and Uhm Tae-Goo. 



And finally, the last movie tied for the #16 spot with the critics score of 7.5 was the 2015 film, <Veteran>.

<Veteran> was directed by Ryu Seung-Wan, who you’ll see come up a couple more times on this list, also directed <The Berlin File>, <The Battleship Island>, <Crying Fist>, and <The Unjust>. The cast lineup included the incredible actors Hwang Jung-Min, Yoo Ah-In, Yoo Hae-Jin, Oh Dal-Soo, and Jang Yoon-Ju. 



Going into the #15 position, the #15 movie was the 2015 film <The Throne>.

Directed by Lee Joon-Ik, who was mentioned earlier for directing <Hope>, <The Throne> starred the likes of Song Kang-Ho, Yoo Ah-In, Moon Geun-Young, Jun Hye-Jin, Kim Hae-Sook, Park Won-Sang, Jin Ji-Hee, Park So-Dam, and Seo Ye-Ji. The critics rating of <The Throne> was 7.54. 



Next, the #14 movie was the 2010 movie, <Secret Reunion>.

Being directed by Jang Hoon, the director of the earlier mentioned <The Front Line>, <Secret Reunion> had the actors Song Kang-Ho, Kang Dong-Won, Jun Gook-Hwan, and Park Hyuk-Kwon. The critics rating was 7.55. 



Moving along to the #13 spot, the 2012 movie <Unbowed> took the #13 position.

<Unbowed> was directed by Jung Ji-Young, the director of <Black Money>, <Blackjack>, and <National Security>, and starred the likes of Ahn Sung-Ki, Park Won-Sang, Na Young-Hee, and Kim Ji-Ho. <Unbowed> had a critics rating of 7.61. 



The #12 movie was the beautifully shot film released in 2016, <The Handmaiden>.

<The Handmaiden> was directed by one of the most famous directors of Korean cinema, Park Chan-Wook. Park Chan-Wook’s other works includes the likes of <Oldboy>, <Thirst>, <Sympathy For Lady Vengeance>, and <Joint Security Area>. As mentioned, <The Handmaiden> was a very beautifully shot movie, and starred the great actors Kim Min-Hee, Kim Tae-Ri, Ha Jung-Woo, and Cho Jin-Woong. The critics score of <The Handmaiden> was 7.68. 



The #11 film was the 2013 movie, <Snowpiercer>.

<Snowpiercer> was directed by another director that’s probably the most well-known of Korean movies, Bong Joon-Ho, who not only directed the 4-time Oscar winner <Parasite>, but also <Okja>, <Mother>, <The Host>, and <Memories of Murder>, all amazing must-watch movies. This sci-fi film had mostly non-Korean actors, but also two incredible Korean actors as well. The cast includes the likes of Chris Evans, Song Kang-Ho, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner, Alison Pill, and Go Ah-Sung. The critics rating of <Snowpiercer> was 7.75. 



The #10 Korean movie that had the highest critics score was the 2013 film, <The Berlin File>.

Directed by Ryu Seung-Wan, who was mentioned earlier for his film <Veteran>, <The Berlin File> had the actors and actresses Ha Jung-Joo, Han Seok-Kyu, Ryu Seung-Bum, Jun Ji-Hyun, and Lee Kyung-Young, and the critics score of the film was 7.89.



At #9 was another crime movie, which was released in 2010, <The Unjust>.

The director of this movie was the same director that was just mentioned in the #10 spot, Ryu Seung-Wan. Starring the likes of Hwang Jung-Min, Ryu Seung-Bum, Yoo Hae-Jin, Chun Ho-Jin, and Don Lee aka Ma Dong-Seok, <The Unjust> had a critics rating of 7.91. 


The #7 spot was another tie. Two movies had the same score of 8.


First, an older film that was directed by Bae Jong, who also did <Fabricated City>: <Welcome To Dongmakgol>.

<Welcome to Dongamkgol> starred the likes of Jung Jae-Young, Shin Ha-Kyun, and Kang Hye-Jung. 



The other #7 movie was another older movie, directed by the legendary Bong Joon-Ho, <The Host>.

<The Host> is a must watch if you love action/thriller/SF/adventure movies. As with other Bong Joon-Ho’s works, the genre of <The Host> is hard to pinpoint, as it has so many elements. <The Host> had the cast lineup of Song Kang-Ho, Byun Hee-Bong, Park Hae-Il, Bae Doo-Na, and Go Ah-Sung. 



Next, the #6 spot was the 2017 released film, <1987: When the Day Comes>.

Directed by Jang Jun-Hwan, who’s responsible for other directorial works such as <Hwayi: A Monster Boy> and <Save The Green Planet>, <1987: When the Day Comes> had the actors Kim Yoon-Seok, Ha Jung-Woo, Yoo Hae-Jin, Kim Tae-Ri, Park Hee-Soon, and Lee Hee-Jun. The critics score was 8.08. 



And now, the Top 5. The #5 highest critically rated movie was the 2018 crime-thriller, <Dark Figure of Crime>.

This film was directed by Kim Tae-Kyun, who also directed <Spring, Snow>, and was the assistant director of <Say Yes>. <Dark Figure of Crime> was based on true events, which makes it that much more interesting. The movie featured the jaw-dropping acting performance of Ju Ji-Hoon, as well as Kim Yoon-Seok and Jin Sun-Kyu. The critics rating of <Dark Figure of Crime> was 8.14. 



The #4 film on the list of top Korean movies by critics ratings was one of the best Korean horror/thrillers, <The Wailing>.

Directed by the same director of the #16 movie <The Chaser>, Na Hong-Jin, <The Wailing> does an incredible job at giving you the chills, both with its story and with the acting by its cast. The cast lineup includes Kwak Do-Won, Hwang Jung-Min, Kunimura Jun, Chun Woo-Hee, and Kim Hwan-Hee, and the critics score was 8.18. 



The third most highly critically rated movie out of South Korean cinema was the 2009 film that was brought to us once again by Bong Joon-Ho, <Mother>.

<Mother> is a mystery crime film that has one of the best twists of Korean cinema. I highly recommend if you haven’t checked it out. The film stars the likes of Kim Hye-Ja, Won Bin, Jin Gu, and Yoon Je-Moon. The critics rating of <Mother> was 8.25. 



And now, only two movies left. Which movie came second to the highest rated movie by critics? The #2 spot goes to the oldest movie of this list, <Oldboy>. 

<Oldboy> was directed by the same director of the #12 film, <The Handmaiden>, Park Chan-Wook, and this is probably one of the most recognized Korean movies out of the entirety of Korean cinema. This must-watch Korean film starred the likes of Choi Min-Shik, Yoo Ji-Tae, Kang Hye-Jung, Kim Byun-Ok, and Oh Dal-Soo, and the critics score was recorded at 8.5. 



And finally, the #1 critically rated movie of Korean cinema. Which Korean movie was acclaimed the highest by the critics? The #1 movie that had the highest critics rating was the film that won Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best International Film, and Best Directorial Work, at the Oscars: <Parasite>.

Directed by the great Bong Joon-Ho, who appeared a total of 4 times in this list, <Parasite> has an amazing cast of Song Kang-Ho, Lee Sun-Kyun, Jo Yeo-Jung, Choi Woo-Shik, Park So-Dam, Lee Jung-Eun, and Jang Hye-Jin. This film has changed the game for Korean movies, as it has given Korean cinema the spotlight it has deserved for the longest time. Definitely very proud of the film in its accomplishments, and a definite must watch if you haven’t seen it. The critics rating of <Parasite> was 9.06. 



That concludes today’s content on 30 Critically Acclaimed Korean Movies. If you have other requests of Korean movie-related content, please leave them in the comments down below. Also, join the EonTalk Patreon if you can to support me make the content I create. Thanks!

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Please keep in mind this review is composed of solely my own opinions, and should be taken with a grain of salt. I am in no way a professional writer, nor have I majored or studied journalism. This is for informative entertainment purpose only, representing my personal views. I do not own the images and/or videos used in the review. No copyright infringement intended.

1 thought on “30 Critically Acclaimed Korean Movies”

  1. Bonjour, mon commentaire est plutôt une question. Ces films sont- ils uniquement sous- titrés en anglais?
    Comment peut- on se les procurer de manière sélective?

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