Top Korean Movies of 2020 so far (Jan~June)

Hello everyone and welcome back to another post by EonTalk! Today I’ve got the written version of the “Top Korean Movies of the First Half of 2020.” 

Also Available in Video Format:

2020 has been one crazy ride, to say the least. The global pandemic shook the world, economic hardships all around the globe, the delay of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Black Lives Matter movement, the passing of the legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant, and not to mention all the political events that took place. On a personal level, I quit my daytime job to take EonTalk full time, and this has paid off, as the channel recently surpassed 100,000 subscribers! Shoutout to all the supporters of EonTalk and what I do!

Despite all the chaos that took place, I sincerely do hope the latter half of this year will bring about better days, and I’m optimistic that things will brighten up. With all the craziness 2020 has brought us, there were also several Korean movies that were released in the first half. In this blog post, I’ll be going over all the movies that I watched that were released in 2020, and ranking them from the worst to the best. 

I’ve watched a total of 12 movies that were released this year thus far, and I’ll link the reviews to the movies as well if you want to check out the full reviews. I’ll just be giving a brief explanation and review of the movies in this post. That being said, this post may be on the longer side, so get ready and settle in, as I introduce to you the movies that released this year so far, and how good they were.

#12

Starting off the list, the #12 movie of the first half of 2020 was the romance film that released in March, <Are You in Love>. Directed by Kim Jung-Kwon, who also directed <Ditto>, <A Letter from Mars>, <Ba:Bo>, and <Snow In Sea Breeze>, <Are You in Love> starred the likes of Kim So-Eun and Sung Hoon.

The synopsis of the movie is as follows:
So-Jung, who dreams of becoming a famous chef, is a worker at a coffee shop owned by Seung-Jae, a very harsh and blunt “Master” of the cafe. One rainy day, an old lady comes by the coffee shop after hours, and leaves So-Jung with a book titled “Are You in Love?” Following this day, So-Jung starts to get a lot of attention from guys, which is strange since she’s never received much attention from her male counterparts before. The book seems to have some mysterious, magical powers, as it answers all her questions regarding love life. Will this book help her discover the love of her life?

Due to the pandemic, there were hardly any people at the movie theaters when I watched <Are You in Love>, and so, I had the whole movie theater to myself. And thank God, as I was able to use my phone without having to care for other audiences when watching. I was bored out of my mind, and found myself constantly using my phone during the movie. Let’s just say, I wanted to leave about halfway through the movie. If you’re looking for a calm, light movie you can watch without much thought, then I guess you can watch this. However, there are so many other great light watches, that I can’t say I’d recommend this one. I gave this movie a Ticket Price Value of $4.

Click to Read Review 👉 <Are You in Love> Review

#11

Next, the #11 movie is the comedic film that released in January of this year, titled <Secret Zoo>. <Secret Zoo> was directed by Son Jae-Gon, who’s other works includes <Villain & Widow> and <My Scary Girl>, and the movie featured the likes of Ahn Jae-Hong, Kang Sora, Park Young-Gyu, Kim Sung-Oh, Jun Yeo-Bin, and Park Hyuk-Kwon. The synopsis of the film is as follows:

The synopsis of the movie is as follows:
‘Tae-Soo’ is a lawyer dreaming of becoming an M&A lawyer for one of the biggest law firms in Korea. While working as a contract worker at the firm, he receives an offer from one of the executive officers: To become the new director of a failing zoo that the firm acquired, and revamp the park. If he’s able to do so, he’s promised a position in the M&A team of the law firm. When Tae-Soo arrives at the zoo, he finds out that the park not only lacks customers, but animals as well. In order to liven up the zoo, he proposes to the zookeepers a very crazy idea: To disguise as and pretend to be the animals until they’re able to attain real ones. Thus, the team of five get specially-made costumes of a polar bear, lion, giraffe, gorilla, and sloth, and start pretending to be the animals. One day, as Tae-Soo is working as the polar bear, he gets extremely thirsty, and so drinks a bottle of Coke in the costume. What he didn’t realize was that there were people watching him! The word gets out that the zoo has a Coke-drinking polar bear, and goes viral. The zoo hits record-high sales, but what the team didn’t know was that there were other big challenges ahead of them.

<Secret Zoo> had a new type of theme with a pretty good cast, but it just wasn’t that funny nor was it very entertaining. The film wasn’t funny, emotional, or educational, nor did it have a good story or story progression. The movie sets the tone well in the beginning, but fails to execute as it progresses. I feel like it was almost a waste of the actors’ talents, as they could’ve done so much more with the potential they had with the cast. I gave <Secret Zoo> a Ticket Price Value of $6.

Click to Read Review 👉 <Secret Zoo> Review

 

#10

The #10 movie was another comedy that released in January, <Mr. Zoo: The Missing VIP>. This film was directed by Kim Tae-Yoon, the director of <Another Family> and <New Trial>, and the movie had the cast lineup of Lee Sung-Min, Bae Jung-Nam, Kim Seo-Hyung, Gal So-Won, and David McInnis, as well as numerous voice actors of Shin Ha-Kyun, Yoo In-Na, Kim Soo-Mi, Lee Sun-Kyun, Lee Jung-Eun, Lee Soon-Jae, Kim Bo-Sung, Park Jun-Hyung, and more. The synopsis of <Mr. Zoo: The Missing VIP> is as follows:

The synopsis of the movie is as follows:
The ace agent of the NIS, Ju Tae-Ju, or otherwise known as Mr. Zoo, was given the mission of escorting a VIP envoy from China. During the operation, Mr. Zoo encounters an accident, leading the VIP to be lost. However, this isn’t the only weird event that occurs; following the incident, Mr. Zoo is able to hear the voices of animals, and communicate with them. Director Min and Man-Shik, colleagues of Mr. Zoo’s in the NIS, begins to think Mr. Zoo has gone crazy, which is understandable, and so Mr. Zoo partners up with Ali the Military Dog, to find the special envoy. With the teamwork of human and animals, the mission to find the VIP begins!

<Mr. Zoo: The Missing VIP> was a very childish movie targeted towards children, so don’t have high expectations for it, and if you do end up watching, don’t watch it too seriously. It’s a light, family movie, and if you love animal movies like <A Dog’s Way Home>, I say you might enjoy this film. I gave <Mr. Zoo: The Missing VIP> a Ticket Price Value of $7.

Click to Read Review 👉 <Mr. Zoo: The Missing VIP> Review

 

#9

The #9 movie is a movie that was delayed and released in the beginning of June, <Intruder>. This mystery thriller was directed by the feature film first-timer Son Won-Pyung, and the movie starred the cast members Song Ji-Hyo, Kim Mu-Yeol, Ye Soo-Jung, Choi Sang-Hoon, Park Min-Ha, and Huh Jun-Seok. The synopsis of <Intruder> is as follows:

The synopsis of the movie is as follows:
Seo-Jin is an architect who recently lost his wife to a hit-and-run incident. As he tries to get over his loss and move on with this life, he gets the sudden news that his younger sister, Yoo-Jin, who went missing 25 years ago, has returned. While he’s highly suspicious of the sudden return of his sister, everyone else in his family are very welcoming to Yoo-Jin. To make his suspicious instincts grow even further, his family members start to show strange signs a short while after the reappearance of Yoo-Jin. Seo-Jin decides to dig into his unusual sister, and during his investigation, he finds that Yoo-Jin was involved in the incident that took his wife away. As he digs deeper and deeper into his sister, he finds himself in more and more puzzling circumstances.

I had fairly high expectations for this movie, but maybe because of my high anticipation, but I found that the story and progression of <Intruder> were way too predictable. However, the acting performances by Song Ji-Hyo and Kim Mu-Yeol were pretty good. The thing is, that’s basically the only thing that you remember after watching. I gave <Intruder> a Ticket Price Value of $7.

Click to Read Review 👉 <Intruder> Review

 

#8

Movie along, the 8th film of the movies of the first half of 2020 is the comedy action film that released in January, <Hitman: Agent Jun>. This movie was directed by Choi Won-Seob, and this was my first time seeing his work. The film starred the likes of Kwon Sang-Woo, Jung Jun-Ho, Hwang Woo-Seul-Hye, Lee Yi-Kyung, Lee Ji-Won, Huh Sung-Tae, Cho Woon, Huh Dong-Won, Lee Jung-Hyuk, and Lee Jong-Wook. The synopsis of <Hitman: Agent Jun> is as follows:

The synopsis of the movie is as follows:
Assassin Jun was a legendary secret agent of the Korean NIS; That is, until he faked his own death and escaped the eyes of the agency. The reason? Because he wanted to pursue his lifelong dream of… being a web-comic artist. But he soon finds reality to be very difficult, as every work he produces receives massively negative reaction. After a night of heavy drinking, Agent Jun creates a new web-comic series in a drunk state. The topic? About this past life of being a secret agent. The web-comic becomes an instant hit, but Jun soon realizes he had just revealed Class-1 confidential info of South Korea. As word-of-mouth spreads and the web-comic receives more and more attention, the NIS and a terrorist group he fought against in the past begins to chase his tail. All he wanted was to live a normal life, but his secret life begins to unravel new circumstances.

I found that the humor of <Hitman: Agent Jun> felt very forced and over the top. However, this is just my personal preference, and I know there are a lot of people that enjoy this type of comedy. I thought the movie was good for a light watch, as long as you go into it without too high of an expectation. The story itself wasn’t anything new and was pretty predictable, but this is a film I recommend watching with the entire family as a light watch. I gave <Hitman: Agent Jun> a Ticket Price Value of $8.

Click to Read Review 👉 <Hitman: Agent Jun> Review

 

#7

The #7 film was the June-released mystery drama, <Me and Me>. <Me and Me> was directed by another first time feature film director, named Jung Jin-Young, and Jung Jin-Young is actually a well-known actor himself, starring in movies such as cast member of <The King and the Clown>, <Ode to My Father>, <Gangnam Blues>, and <Svaha: The Sixth Finger>. Because of his great acting profile, I had fairly high expectations for <Me and Me>, and the cast of the movie included Cho Jin-Woong, Bae Soo-Bin, Jung Hae-Kyun, Cha Soo-Yeon, Lee Sun-Bin, Shin Dong-Mi, Jang Won-Young, and Shin Kang-Kyun. The synopsis of this mystery film is as follows:

The synopsis of the movie is as follows:
In an open countryside area, a mysterious house fire kills a married couple. Hyung-Goo, the lead detective on the case, smells something fishy about the villagers. As he digs deeper and deeper into the investigation, he wakes up one day in a completely different state of mind. From his family to his job to his house, his whole life has changed completely in a matter of a day. Will he be able to get his old life back?

<Me and Me> started off as a good mystery movie that gets you to think and try to solve the mystery that’s going on. However, as the movie progresses, you find yourself worrying that the movie won’t be able to finish strong, and ultimately, it does fail to finish strong. It felt like it was trying to give a very eerie, mystery vibe while also making you think, and ending with an open ending; But no. It failed to do so. Maybe because this is the director’s first time being in the director’s seat, but the ending was one of the most unsatisfying endings I’ve seen recently. The movie isn’t the worst thing, as it definitely was good when it got things right, but it’s also not a very recommendable film. I gave <Me and Me> a Ticket Price Value of $8.

Click to Read Review 👉 <Me and Me> Review

 

#6

Going into the #6 spot, the #6 movie goes to the comedy film that released in February, titled <Honest Candidate>. As you can see, 2020 started off with lots of comedic films, as this is the fourth comedy that released in the first two months. <Honest Candidate> was directed by Jang Yoo-Jung, who also did <Finding Mr. Destiny> and <The Bros>, and the movie starred the cast members Ra-Mi-Ran, Kim Mu-Yeol, Na Moon-Hee, Yoon Kyung-Ho, Song Young-Chang, On Joo-Wan, and Cho Han-Chul. The synopsis of the film is as follows:

The synopsis of the movie is as follows:
For Ju Sang-Sook, a three-time member of the Korean National Assembly, lying was the easiest thing to do. Whether it be in her political or personal life, she’d talk her way out of, or into, whatever she’d like. This all changed as her campaign to run for the National Assembly for the fourth time began. With some sort of magical, greater power means, she wakes up not being able to lie. AT ALL. What does this mean? She’d just lost her greatest weapon: her tongue. As she continues to campaign for her big win, she can only blurt out the 100% truth, ruining her political image. Will this Honest Candidate be able to pull through?

Maybe because my expectations of <Honest Candidate> were pretty low, but I actually enjoyed watching this film. Was it the best movie of the year? No. But it was actually pretty funny and had me entertained throughout. The story was predictable, but it was worth watching as a light watch. I gave the movie a Ticket Price Value of $8

Click to Read Review 👉 <Honest Candidate> Review

 

#5

Coming in at #5 of the best Korean movies of the first half of 2020 was the thriller action released on Netflix in April, <Time to Hunt>. <Time to Hunt> was directed by Yoon Sung-Hyun, and this was the first movie I’ve seen of his. The film was originally supposed to have a wide-release in Korea, but it was later revealed to have a Netflix release instead, and was delayed a few times before actually releasing on the streaming site in April. The movie had great hype surrounding it, as it had incredible actors of Lee Je-Hoon, Ahn Jae-Hong, Choi Woo-Shik, Park Jung-Min, and Park Hae-Soo. The synopsis of the film is as follows:

The synopsis of the movie is as follows:
Recently released from prison, Jun-Seok and his best friends Jang-Ho and Ki-Hoon, as well as Sang-Soo, plan a dangerous operation in order to escape from the dystopian society, and to start a new life. Just when they thought they had successfully completed their operation, an unknown man starts to chase after the boys. Will the four friends be able to get away from the chaser and attain that “new dream life” they were hoping for?

<Time to Hunt> was a pretty enjoyable action-thriller with great cast members and enjoyable moments. However, I can’t say the movie lived up to my expectations. It left me asking “what was the purpose of the movie?” It does take a look at what society can look like and the hopeless, dystopian world that can possibly be the future, but it doesn’t really go deep into it. I enjoyed the watch, but it isn’t something I’ll be watching again. I gave the movie a Ticket Price Value of $10.

Click to Read Review 👉 <Time to Hunt> Review

 

#4

The fourth movie of best movies of 2020 thus far goes to the most recently released film on this list, <#Alive>. <#Alive> was directed by Cho Il-Hyung, who had his feature film directorial debut with this movie, and this zombie film starred the likes of Yoo Ah-In, Park Shin-Hye, Jun Bae-Soo, and Lee Hyun-Wook. The synopsis of <#Alive> is as follows:

The synopsis of the movie is as follows:
A city is lost in chaos as an unidentified disease spreads and the people start to show very aggressive behavior. Jun-Woo wakes up, not knowing anything about what’s going on outside, and finds himself alone in his home. His phone’s data, wifi, texts, calls are all cut, and there’s no way of getting in contact with his family. With the ongoing chaos outside, Jun-Woo cannot leave his apartment, and must find a way to survive on his own. Just when he finds himself on the brink of giving up, he receives a signal from another survivor in the apartment complex. He finds that Yoo-Bin is also a survivor, and the two try to find a way to stay alive together.

I found that <#Alive> had good moments of suspense, but I can’t say it lived up to the anticipation I had for it. Maybe, or probably because I, along with all other Korean movie lovers, have such high expectations for zombie movies, since Koreans are known for making great zombie productions, <#Alive> just didn’t satisfy. The movie was another good light watch, but not something that’s highly recommended. I gave <#Alive> a Ticket Price Value of $10.

Click to Read Review 👉 <#Alive> Review

 

#3

Next, the #3 film goes to the crime-thriller that released in February, titled <Beasts Clawing at Straws>. This was another movie that was directed by a feature film first-timer, named Kim Yong-Hoon, but the movie featured a list of veteran cast members, including Jun Do-Yeon, Jung Woo-Sung, Bae Sung-Woo, Yoon Yeo-Jung, Jin Kyung, as well as Jung Man-Shik, Shin Hyun-Bin, and Jung Ga-Ram. The synopsis of the film is as follows:

The synopsis of the movie is as follows:
It all started with a single bag of money. After his girlfriend leaves him, Tae-Young suffers from a major private-loan debt that he needs to pay back; Jong-Man, the head of the household, takes on a part-time job to provide for his family; Yeon-Hee wants to erase the past and start a new life; And Mi-Ran, the wife of an abusive husband and suffering from many life problems.To these 4 individuals, living in rock bottom, an opportunity presents itself, in the form of a bag full of cash. In order to obtain and maintain the bag, numerous unforeseen incidents begin.

I thought that the trailers of <Beasts Clawing at Straws> were misleading, as they made it seem like the film was more of a thriller, but in reality, it was more of a comedy than a thriller. This was another movie where you think “what was the point of that movie?” after watching. Although the movie was a pretty entertaining ride, it lost its identity as it progressed, and the story wasn’t anything out of this world. This is another movie I’d recommend going into this without much expectation, which is hard to do considering the cast, but if you don’t have high standards for the film, I think you could have an enjoyable time. I gave the movie a Ticket Price Value of $11

Click to Read Review 👉 <Beasts Clawing at Straws> Review

 

#2

And now, just two movies left. The #2 movie goes to the court drama that released in June, <Innocence>. Directed by Park Sang-Hyun, who was the assistant director of <The President’s Last Bang> and <Forever the Moment>, <Innocence> starred the likes of Shin Hye-Sun, Bae Jong-Ok, Huh Jun-Ho, Hong Kyung, Tae Hang-Ho, Go Chang-Suk, and Park Chul-Min. The synopsis is as follows:

The synopsis of the movie is as follows:
Jung-In is an ace lawyer at one of the most famous law firms in Korea. However, she finds herself in a puzzling situation when a murder incident occurs at her father’s funeral. The drinks that were served at the funeral were poisoned with pesticide, and Jung-In’s mother, Hwa-Ja, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, is framed as the suspect. In order to prove her mother’s innocence, Jung-In decides to take on the case herself. While investigating the case, Jung-In finds several suspicious factors, including systematic cover-ups and false statements by the villagers and the mayor of the town, Choo In-Hwe. With her mother unable to remember anything from the day of the incident, Jung-In must do whatever it takes to prove the innocence of her mother.

<Innocence> had great acting, a good story, and a satisfying buildup with a satisfying ending. <Innocence> is a film that I very much did enjoy, and if you are a fan of crime-mystery dramas, I recommend watching this new Korean film. This is one of the only two movies I actually highly recommend watching. I gave <Innocence> a Ticket Price Value of $13.

Click to Read Review 👉 <Innocence> Review

 

#1

And finally, the #1 movie of 2020 so far. The #1 movie goes to the January-released film, <The Man Standing Next>. <The Man Standing Next> was directed by Woo Min-Ho, who also directed <Man Of Vendetta>, <The Spies>, <Inside Men>, and <The Drug King>. The movie features an incredibly talented cast lineup of Lee Byung-Hun, Lee Sung-Min, Kwak Do-Won, Lee Hee-Jun, Kim So-Jin, and Seo Hyun-Woo. The synopsis of <The Man Standing Next> is as follows:

The synopsis of the movie is as follows:
October 26th 1979, the director of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, Kim Gyu-Pyung, assassinates the president of South Korea, Park. Just 40 days prior to the assassination, the former director of the KCIA, Park Yong-Gak, stirs up great interest in Washington by claiming he’ll reveal the truth about the South Korean regime to the world. In order to stop the actions of Park, the director of the KCIA, Kim, and the Chief Officer of the president, Kwak, start taking matters into their own hands. In the midst of this, loyalty to President Park becomes more and more divided, and situations get more and more out of hand. What led to the assassination of President Park? Why did Kim Gyu-Pyung, who swore his life to protecting the president, decide to pull the trigger?

<The Man Standing Next> was based on the true events of the assassination of president Park, and the film was a great movie experience for people such as myself who do not have much prior knowledge of the historical events. I say it’s a great movie experience because it wasn’t a historical lesson. Movies with topics such as this can very easily end up being tiring and boring, but <The Man Standing Next> was not only informative but had intense suspense and thrill, and did a great job at showing how much South Korea and the government of South Korea has evolved over the years. The movie really sucks you in and keeps your attention throughout. I highly, highly recommend watching this movie, and do believe this is the best Korean movie that released so far in 2020. I gave the film a Ticket Price Value of $14

Click to Read Review 👉 <The Man Standing Next> Review

 

Conclusion

And that’s it for today’s content on the “Best Korean Movies of 2020 so far.” To be completely honest, the start of 2020 wasn’t very good for Korean cinema. There were good movies, don’t get me wrong, but with the delays of lots of movies, I expect there to be more good movies to release in the remaining days of this year. Please remember that this list was composed of only movies that I’ve seen.  Once again, thank you to everyone that read til the end, and I’ll see you guys in the next one!

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Disclaimer
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.