The top ten Korean horror movies – how many have you seen?

Screen Junkies has published its list of the top ten Korean horror movies – can you guess which ones they are?  To be honest, the only one that I have seen is #2 on the list – The Host.  Screen Junkies describes the movie as:

In this monster movie, one of the ten best Korean horror films, a monster created by toxic chemicals emerges from the river and goes on to attack in Seoul. It won eighteen awards, including the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror’s prize for Best International Film.

In a surprisingly short post here on the Hole a couple of years ago, The Metropolitician explained why he liked the movie and added his own link to his blog where he elaborates more (but not much) about his love for the movie.  I will say that I always harbored the belief – as did his commenter – that Host was an anti-American military movie (covered here by ROK Drop) but I think Mike does an excellent job of explaining his view of why it isn’t/wasn’t.  Mr. Marmot also offered his view of the movie here.

  • SeoulFinn

    I don’t usually watch horror movies these days, because they don’t really work for me. I guess I’ve seen too many of them in my youth.

    From those 10 listed I’ve seen only R-Point. When it comes to K-movies in general, I’ve seen -if my list is up to date- 189. Not bad, eh? There might be 5 to 10 films that I forgot to write down years ago, though.

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  • bumfromkorea

    I really liked Tale of Two Sisters and The Uninvited. Definitely watch the former, at least.

    Is The Host even a horror movie?

  • aurelius

    Just caught R-Point a couple of weeks ago. It was a novel idea, and fairly well done, though it could have been a tab creepier. Overall (except for the Host, which is more of a monster movie than horror), the films on the list aren’t bad. I think the Koreans and Japanese are making some of the best horror films out there, though the Thai’s are catching up. American movie makers have simply lost the ability to make a decent horror movie (though they excel at special effects and monsters).

  • R. Elgin

    I’m not sure about American movie makers being unable. Perhaps its just that real life has become so horrible that it is difficult to find something more frightening than, say, this. I would love to see a Korean horror film where a large batch of killer-kimchi is sent to the U.S. and when Americans eat it, their head explodes and then they turn into headless zombie bank executives that try to shoot guns but keep missing because they have no head.
    Good God, I am scared just imagining such.

  • Fullslab

    Holly holy, I thought you were half Korean. You get minus points for not having seen the host

  • Darth Babaganoosh

    I’m surprised that 여고괴담 didn’t make the list. I think that was the one that started Korea getting into the horror genre in the first place. The sequels were all shit, but the original was quite good with a more spooky, gothic feel to it than blatant hack-and-slash. Lots of controversy of how the teachers in the movie were portrayed, too.

    But the list is a pretty good one. Tale of Two Sisters deserves that top spot.

    Is The Host even a horror movie?

    I don’t consider monster movies to be “horror”. This also includes movies like Cloverfield.

  • setnaffa

    SOTU Thought. If the President believes the stuff he is saying, he should have been ACTING on them for the last two years.

    We don’t need more speeches, we need positive action. I’ll believe it when I see it…

  • running_fridge

    Tale of Two Sisters is one of my favourite movies and deserves the first place (though it could be my bias towards Lim SooJung but whatever). The whole movie had an incredible artistic feel to it, what with the panning shots, colours/lighting and music. The American remake isnt a rumour… it’s actually a finished product which came out a while ago… Apparently it was terrible. If there is one movie you’re looking to watch in that list, make it the Tale of Two Sisters (장화홍련 in hangeul. Yes, the movie is *very* loosely derived from the famous korean folk tale for those who recognise it). Doooit.

  • Yeongung

    I’ve seen “A Tale of Two Sisters” everywhere, but have never watched it. However, I did see “The Host.” I enjoyed it, though I agree with others when they say it wasn’t a horror movie. The end was kinda dumb, though. I’m not gonna say more than that in case someone wants to go see it. I hate when someone spoils the ending of a movie for me.

    I know “The Host” is on Netflix with English subtitles, and you can just stream it. I believe “A Tale of Two Sisters” is as well.

  • The Western Confucian

    “A Tale of Two Sisters” is not only the best Korean horror movie, it’s one of the best horror movies of recent years. Really creepy. But only watch it if you can handle not having everything explained.

  • Jashin Densetsu

    Chaw was good.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “The end was kinda dumb, though. ”

    Just the end?

  • bumfromkorea

    I enjoyed The Host, even though the anti-American stuff (which wasn’t as predominant as some of you are making it out to be) made me went “ehh…”. For me, the movie was mostly about how fucked up/inept/useless/[insert bad adjective] South Korean government was (the mourning scene near the beginning of the film, for one), and the whole family-coming-together thing.


    Wrong thread? 😀

  • WeikuBoy

    “Phone” is good AND scary, and has the exquisite Ha Ji-Won to boot.

  • The Western Confucian

    bumfromkorea is right that The Hist “was mostly about how fucked up/inept/useless/[insert bad adjective] South Korean government was.”’s review at the time hailed it as a libertarian, anti-statist classic. Moral of the story: trust your family, not the government.

  • keith

    A big horror fan here. I’ve seen most of them and not particularly impressed. They’re too derivative. ‘Phone’ is an example, isn’t it just the Korean version of ‘Ring’? and the Japanese version was far better, heck even the yank version was a bit better.

    The fact that The Host is on that list is damning, it was a confused piece of cinema. Was it a comedy? Was it about monsters? Was it a silly anti-american thing? Was it horror? I’d say it was all of those things, except a horror movie. The only thing horrific about The Host was the acting.

  • YangachiBastardo

    Hey tangentially related, a few years ago there was a long-disappeared video with Alien Sex Fiend “Now i’m feeling zombified” (one of my favourite songs) playing to an Asian horror movie, which vaguely i recall being called “Living dead” where a bunch of uniform-clad schoolgirls were bowing on a subway platform…just to be torn to pieces by an out-of-control train driven by a psyched out driver…anybody knows this movie ‘ was it Korean ? It looked pretty creepy

  • Korea Beat

    “Phone” was not scary at all, although the image of a girl buried in a wall was a good one. “Whispering Corridors” should have taken its place on the list. Also, what about “Thirst”?

  • aurelius

    “Also, what about “Thirst”?”

    Thirst was pretty good, certainly better than Red Shoes. Two Sisters was very good, but the American version was simply horrible, and not in the enjoyable way. I have yet to see an American remake of an Asian horror movie that was even “as-good” as the original.

  • Yeongung

    #12, I was being nice.

    #18, “Thirst” was a good take on vampires. None of that sparkly crap in the US nowadays.

  • WangKon936

    I think these fellas at Screen Junkies may have too much time on their hands. They also have top 10 lists for other Korean movie genes:

    10 Best Korean Romantic Movies

    5 Best Korean Comedies

    10 Best Korean Actors

  • WangKon936

    Wayyyy too much time on their hands:

    5 Best Korean Dramas

  • pawikirogii

    about ‘a tale of two sisters': can somebody tell me their take on the ghost in the movie? was the ghost something imagined or was it for real?

  • Acropolis7

    I saw “Voices” just this past Friday. Disturbing at points, however at the end it is hard to tell whether the “voice” is a phantom or real entity. Many things left unexplained pertaining to him.

  • bumfromkorea


    I don’t see Choi Min Sik, Song Gang Ho, Lee Byung Hun, or Shin Ha Kyun. Therefore the list is even more illegitimate (Did they seriously list some dude from a boy band as one?)

    @ pawi

    A ghost definitely exist in the house (sister-in-law would not have reacted like that otherwise). Whether what we saw throughout the film was the said ghost is an entirely different debate.

  • bulgasari

    @17 The movie you’re thinking of is Suicide Club:
    I saw it at one of the all night screenings at the Bucheon film festival back in 2002. Good times.

    Gord Sellar’s look at the Host in the context of earlier Korean monster movies is worth a read for those interested:

    Not that I’d consider the Host to be a horror film…

  • Jieun K

    uniform-clad schoolgirls were bowing on a subway platform…just to be torn to pieces by an out-of-control train driven by a psyched out driver…. was it Korean ?

    That scenario has “Japan” written all over it.

    Aside1: It’s about time you renewed your Gravatar for a change, huh. Y’know, it’s good to see you living young and free. That’s the spirit.

    Aside2: A middle-aged couple, either one or both of whom must be drunk, is having a brawl in the street right now. I can hear ’em from my room. One is howling like a monster. LOL. The police car just came, admonishing them with a megaphone.

    It’s over now.

    Aside3: I could really use some dope Electro sounds.

  • YangachiBastardo

    Bulgasari: thank you and yes Jieun is right such a scenario is as Japanese as Ichi the killer and sushi

    Y’know, it’s good to see you living young and free. That’s the spirit.

    Yeah right as free as Cullen Thomas boozing fighting weapons hold ’em with friends i guess it was about the time…

    I could really use some dope Electro sounds

    check this out

  • Yeongung


    Well. That was interesting.

  • Jieun K

    Yeah right as free as Cullen Thomas boozing fighting weapons hold ‘em with friends

    Hey, as long as your spirit remains young and free… is all it counts.

    Many thanks for complying with my request. Also checked the English version. Hilarious. LOL

  • Jieun K

    Payback time:

    Get into the music…it’ll set you free.

    p.s. long-running, but give it a listen.

  • pawikirogii

    yangachi, could the movie you’re looking for be ‘red eye’?

  • YangachiBastardo

    pawi: thanks i tend to like (as a rule) Wes Craven movies, the one i was referring to was actually the suicide club. You guys made me wanna watch the tale of2 sisters flick

    Jieun: cool spaced-out son, very 1996 indeed

  • αβγδε

    The best from the Whispering Corridors series is the second one: Memento Mori.

    But I also liked Voice and the first.

    The director behind A Tale of Two Sisters, Kim Jiwoon, is the same guy behind movies such as A Quiet Family, A Bittersweet Life, and The Good, The Bad, The Weird.

    I’ve seen his latest with Choi Min Shik and Lee Byeong Hun. Not a horror film, a very unpredictable, viscious, yet humorous, thriller film, titled I Saw The Devil. Worth watching, a solid movie but, IMO, ultimately forgettable.

    A Bittersweet Life and Quiet Family are my faves from Kim.

  • αβγδε

    Some news I just found: Kim Jiwoon is breaking into Hollywood!

    Cool beans.