38 Best Korean Drama Films That Will Keep You Coming Back for More
Perhaps you checked out Parasite and it left you hungry for more. Or maybe you’ve already gotten a head start by binge-watching an endless stream of Korean shows and indie films. Either way, there’s never a wrong reason to indulge in even more of these amazing films. And lucky for you, we’ve got you covered with some of the best South Korean drama films that you can start streaming right now.
From poignant movies like Oasis and House of Hummingbird to nail-biting thrillers like Mother, here are 38 of the best South Korean drama films that’ll definitely keep you hooked.
1. ‘Secret Sunshine’ (2007)
Who’s in it: Jeon Do-yeon, Song Kang-ho, Jo Young-jin, Kim Young-jae
What it’s about: The poignant film, which was met with critical acclaim, follows a young Korean widow named Sin-ae. When she moves to a new town with her son to get a fresh start, she feels hopeful. But when her child suddenly gets abducted, it seems like tragedy is following her wherever she goes.
2. ‘Poetry’ (2010)
Who’s in it: Yoon Jeong-hee, Lee David, Kim Hee-ra, Ahn Nae-sang
What it’s about: Yang Mi-ja, a kind-hearted elderly woman, develops an interest in poetry while suffering from Alzheimer’s. When she discovers that her childish grandson is connected to the murder of a young girl, she goes to great lengths to help protect him. However, when her memory continues to fail her, it leads to dangerous consequences.
3. ‘The Beauty Inside’ (2015)
Who’s in it: Han Hyo-joo, Yoo Yeon-seok, Kim Dae-myung, Do Ji-han
What it’s about: Guys, can you imagine waking up as a different person every day? When Woo-jin wakes up in the bodies of different people after his 18th birthday, he’s tasked with adjusting to a number of new environments. But regardless of who he turns into—whether it be an elderly grandparent or a little child—his goal still remains the same: to find and reunite with his one true love, Yi-soo.
4. ‘Burning’ (2018)
Who’s in it: Ah-in Yoo, Jong-seo Jun, Steven Yeun
What it’s about: Jongsu, a shy introvert, falls for a beautiful young woman from his past named Haemi. But after Haemi returns from a trip with the sophisticated Ben, she mysteriously disappears, causing Jongsu to question Ben’s secret hobby.
5. ‘Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring’ (2003)
Who’s in it: Oh Yeong-su, Kim Ki-duk, Kim Young-min, Seo Jae-kyung
What it’s about: After growing up under the guidance of a Buddhist monk, a young apprentice meets and falls in love with a girl who visits the monastery. Within the next few days, they start a secret romantic relationship, which eventually causes the young boy to leave the monastery and explore the outside world (which proves to be quite a challenge).
6. ‘A Taxi Driver’ (2017)
Who’s in it: Song Kang-ho, Thomas Kretschmann, Yoo Hae-jin
What it’s about: Based on the real-life experiences of journalist Jürgen Hinzpeter during the Gwangju Uprising in 1980, this film follows Kim Man-seob, a taxi driver who gets booked for a trip with a foreign journalist. But when Kim takes his client to Gwangju, both men are stunned to see that the city is under siege by protesters and the military.
7. ‘The Day He Arrives’ (2011)
Who’s in it: Yoo Jun-sang, Kim Sang-joong, Song Seon-mi, Kim Bo-kyung
What it’s about: In this black-and-white film, film professor Sang-Joon travels to Seoul, expecting to meet a close friend who works as a film critic. But when that friend fails to show up or return Sang-Joon’s calls, he sticks around and aimlessly wanders around the city, turning it into his own adventure.
8. ‘3-Iron’ (2014)
Who’s in it: Lee Seung-yeon, Jae Hee, Kwon Hyuk-ho
What it’s about: Tae-suk goes from mediocre squatter to knight in shining armor when he breaks into a huge mansion and encounters an abused housewife. When she agrees to escape with him on his motorcycle, the two embark on a new adventure (and of course, fall for each other in the process).
9. ‘Peppermint Candy’ (1999)
Who’s in it: Sol Kyung-gu, Moon So-ri, Kim Yeo-jin
What it’s about: Fair warning: You’ll probably need to keep a box of tissues handy for this one. In the beginning, a depressed and suicidal Yong-ho stands before an oncoming train and says, “I want to go back again!” Then, throughout the film, viewers gain some insight into how he got to this point, as major life events are recounted in reverse order.
10. ‘Always’ (2011)
Who’s in it: So Ji-sub, Han Hyo-joo, Yun Jong-hwa, Kang Shin-il
What it’s about: Former boxer and parking lot attendant Jang Cheol-min is perfectly content with being a quiet loner. But that soon changes when he crosses paths with a blind and attractive telemarketer who mistakes him for a former employee.
11. ‘Oasis’ (2002)
Who’s in it: Sol Kyung-gu, Moon So-ri, Ryoo Seung-wan
What it’s about: When a mentally unstable ex-con, Hong Jong-du, serves his time for killing a man in a car accident, he immediately tries to make amends with the victim’s family. But while he does this, he develops a strong bond with the victim’s abandoned daughter, who has cerebral palsy.
Given the film's refreshing take on romance, it's no wonder why it was a major critical success.
12. ‘Ditto’ (2000)
Who’s in it: Yoo Ji-tae, Kim Ha-neul, Park Yong-woo, Shin Cheol-jin
What it’s about: Yoon So-eun is a junior student at Silla University in 1979. Ji In is a sophomore at the same college in 2000. And yet, these two are somehow able to communicate with each other across time with an amateur radio. (If only we could get our hands on one of those…)
13. ‘The Way Home’ (2002)
Who's in it: Kim Eul-boon, Yoo Seung-ho, Dong Hyo-hee
What it’s about: The biggest lesson of this story? Never take sweet grandmas for granted. When Sang-woo's mom sends him to live with his grandmother, he’s instantly put off by her old-fashioned home, which has no indoor plumbing or electricity. Though he takes his anger out on his grandma, she continues to treat him with compassion. And over time, he becomes so moved by her unconditional love that it starts to rub off on him.
14. ‘Miss Baek’ (2018)
Who’s in it: Han Ji-min, Kim Si-a, Lee Hee-joon
What it’s about: When Baek Sang-ah, an ex-convict who leads a solitary life, befriends a little girl who’s suffering from neglect and domestic abuse, she makes it her mission to save the child.
15. ‘My Annoying Brother’ (2016)
Who’s in it: Jo Jung-suk, Do Kyung-soo, Park Shin-hye
What it’s about: After damaging his optic nerves during a sports event, Doo-young struggles to adjust to the fact that his eyesight is gone. To make matters even worse, he has to deal with his estranged brother, Doo-shik, who just got out of prison. But when the two finally start to mend their broken relationship, Doo-shik learns that he has terminal cancer.
16. ‘The Attorney’ (2013)
Who’s in it: Song Kang-ho, Kim Young-ae, Oh Dal-su, Im Si-wan
What it’s about: Inspired by the real-life Burim case of 1981 (where students and workers were arrested on false charges), this movie follows a famous tax attorney who decides to represent an old friend after learning that his child has been kidnapped and tortured.
17. ‘Right Now, Wrong Then’ (2015)
Who’s in it: Jung Jae-young, Kim Min-hee, Youn Yuh-jung, Gi Ju-bong, Choi Hwa-jung
What it’s about: After a chance encounter, a film director and a shy young artist decide to spend the day together. After countless flirty exchanges and outings with friends, they realize that they just *might* be falling in love—but before things can go any further, they get a fresh start and the day begins again. But this time, things play out quite differently.
18. ‘Lovers' Concerto’ (2002)
Who’s in it: Cha Tae-hyun, Lee Eun-ju, Son Ye-jin
What it’s about: The film is a testament to how complicated friendships can get when someone starts to develop feelings. When two girls, Soo-in and Gyung-hee, start to develop romantic feelings for their guy friend, this causes the three to drift apart as they grow older. But after several years pass by without them keeping in touch, Lee Ji-hwan decides to track them both down.
19. ‘Asako I & II’ (2018)
Who’s in it: Masahiro Higashide, Erika Karata, Kōji Seto
What it’s about: Asako’s love life comes to a halt when Baku, the free-spirited man that she’s been dating, suddenly disappears. But two years later, she meets Baku’s doppelganger—and he’s nothing like the man that she fell in love with two years ago.
20. ‘House of Hummingbird’ (2020)
Who’s in it: Park Ji-hoo, Kim Sae-byuk, Jung In-gi, Lee Seung-yeon
What it’s about: Set in 1994, this coming-of-age drama centers on 14-year-old Eunhee, a struggling eighth grade student who desperately wants to understand the meaning of true love. The movie earned a whopping 59 awards, including Best International Narrative Feature Award at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.
21. ‘Mother’ (2009)
Who’s in it: Kim Hye-ja, Won Bin, Jin Goo
What it’s about: In this gripping, Oscar-nominated thriller, a widow's shy son is charged for the murder of a young girl. Believing that he must've been framed, the mother makes it her mission to prove his innocence. BTW, when the film got released in 2009, it actually became the sixth highest grossing film in South Korea.
22. ‘Tune in for Love’ (2019)
Who’s in it: Kim Go-eun, Jung Hae-in, Kim Gook-hee, Jung Yoo-jin
What it’s about: Set during the IMF Crisis (a major financial crisis that affected East Asia and Southeast Asia in the late 1990s), Tune in for Love tells the heartwarming love story of two teenagers who, unfortunately, keep getting pulled apart. However, even with the ongoing challenges of adulthood and the crisis, they continue to find their way back to each other.
23. ‘A Man and a Woman’ (2016)
Who’s in it: Jeon Do-yeon, Gong Yoo, Lee Mi-so, Park Byung-eun
What it’s about: Two strangers, Sang-Min (Jeon Do-Yeon) and Ki-Hong (Gong Yoo), have a steamy one-night stand after a brutal snowstorm forces them to stay together at an inn. They walk away from each other the following morning, but when they reunite several months later, both are married to different people and have children.
24. ‘The Drug King’ (2018)
Who’s in it: Song Kang-ho, Jo Jung-suk, Bae Doona
What it’s about: If you loved seeing Song Kang-ho in Parasite, then you're in for a treat with this intense crime drama. In the film, Song plays Lee Doo-sam, a Korean drug lord who builds his empire in the Busan underworld in South Korea. Meanwhile, prosecutor Kim In-goo (Jo Jung-suk) is determined to bring him down.
25. ‘Pietà’ (2012)
Who’s in it: Lee Jung-jin, Jo Min-su, Kang Eun-jin
What it’s about: Kang-do is a cruel and heartless loan shark who demands exploitive high returns from his clients. But when he meets a middle-aged woman who claims to be his biological mother, Mi-sun, he bonds with her, and it seems to have a major effect on his cold personality. However, there’s more to Mi-sun than meets the eye.
26. ‘Treeless Mountain’ (2008)
Who’s in it: Hee Yeon Kim, Song Hee Kim, Soo Ah Lee, Mi Hyang Kim, Boon Tak Park
What it’s about: In this heartbreaking movie, 7-year-old Jin and her younger sister, Bin are forced to fend for themselves after their mother abandons them to search for their father.
27. ‘Entangled’ (2014)
Who’s in it: Yeong-ae Kim, Ji-won Do, Il-guk Song, So-eun Kim
What it’s about: Younghee, her husband Sangho, her sister Kkotnip and her mother Sun-im, are beyond excited to welcome the family’s latest addition: Younghee’s newborn child. But things take a dark and disturbing turn when the baby unexpectedly passes away.
28. ‘The Poet and the Boy’ (2017)
Who’s in it: Yang Ik-june, Jeon Hye-jin, Jung Ga-ram, Won Mi-yun
What it’s about: A married writer in his late 30s goes through life writing poetry while sponging off of his wife. But one day, while visiting a donut shop, he meets a teenage boy that he starts to develop romantic feelings for.
29. ‘The Truth Beneath’ (2016)
Who’s in it: Son Ye-jin, Kim Joo-hyuk, Kim Soo-hee, Shin Ji-hoon
What it’s about: The thriller film, which has won at least a dozen awards, chronicles the mysterious disappearance of Kim Min-jin, the young daughter of famous politician Kim Jong-chan and his wife, Kim Yeon-hong.
30. ‘Princess’ (2014)
Who’s in it: Chun Woo-hee, Jung In-sun, Kim So-young
What it’s about: After experiencing a deeply traumatic event, Han Gong-Ju leaves her hometown and relocates to a new school. But unfortunately, it doesn't take very long for her dark past to catch up to her. The independent film was a major hit with critics, and it raked in a total of 223,297 viewer admissions, making it one of the most successful Korean independent films of all time.
31. ‘An Affair’ (1998)
Who’s in it: Lee Mi-sook, Lee Jung-jae, Song Yeong-chang
What it’s about: When Seo-hyun, a housewife and mother in her 30s, is asked by her little sister to help her fiancé find a new apartment, she gladly offers to help. But when these two meet, their attraction to one another is instant and it leads to a secret affair. (Fun fact: An Affair was actually the seventh highest grossing Korean film in 1998.)
32. ‘Addicted’ (2002)
Who’s in it: Lee Byung-hun, Lee Mi-yeon, Lee Eol, Park Sun-young
What it’s about: If you've already seen Possession (the American remake), then this plot might sound a bit familiar. Two brothers, Dae-jun and Ho-jun, fall into comas after suffering injuries. When Dae-jun wakes up a year later, his brother's wife cares for him. But when he starts to act exactly like his brother, she suspects that her husband's spirit is actually in Dae-jun’s body.
33. 'Masquerade' (2012)
Who’s in it: Byung-hun Lee, Seung-ryong Ryu, Hyo-joo Han, In-kwon Kim
What it’s about: At the request of King Gwang-hae, the ruler of Korea's Joseon Dynasty in the 17th century, Secretary of Defense Heo Gyun secretly hires a common doppelgänger to take the monarch’s place and avoid the king's assassination. The popular period drama led to over 12.3 million tickets sales and was named the ninth highest grossing South Korean film.
34. ‘In Another Country’ (2012)
Who's in it: Isabelle Huppert, Yu Jun-sang, Kwon Hae-hyo, Moon So-ri
What it’s about: The film focuses on three different women who all visit the same resort—except all of them are named Anne, and they're all played by the same actress (Huppert). Allow us to break it down: These three Annes are introduced through three separate stories. In the first, she’s a well-known filmmaker who visits a fellow Korean director, Jong-soo. In the second, she's a wife who’s involved in an affair with a Korean filmmaker, and in the third, she's a divorced housewife whose husband has left her for a younger, Korean secretary.
35. ‘Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance’ (2002)
Who’s in it: Song Kang-ho, Shin Ha-kyun, Bae Doona, Ji-Eun Lim
What it’s about: Ryu, a deaf and mute man who works in a factory, is stuck between a rock and a hard place when he suddenly loses his job. In an attempt to help his sick sister, who desperately needs a new kidney, he turns to a group of black market organ dealers for help. But when he’s conned, he resorts to kidnapping a wealthy man's daughter for ransom money.
36. ‘Thirst’ (2009)
Who’s in it: Kang-ho Song, Ok-bin Kim, Hee-jin Choi, Dong-soo Seo
What it’s about: Loosely based on Émile Zola's 1867 novel, Thérèse Raquin, Thirst centers on Sang-hyun, a Caholic priest who turns into a ruthless vampire after an experiment goes horribly wrong. The former priest also gives into his desires and starts an affair, completely abandoning his old lifestyle.
37. ‘A Brand New Life’ (2009)
Who’s in it: Sae-ron Kim, Do Yeon Park, Ah-sung Ko
What it’s about: In this moving coming-of-age story, 9-year-old Jin-hee is abandoned by her father, who leaves her at an orphanage after he remarries. While there, she struggles to adjust, but she remains hopeful that her father will come back for her. The film was not only met with critical acclaim, but it also won a number of awards, including the Best Asian Film Award at the 22nd Tokyo International Film Festival.
38. ‘Sea Fog’ (2016)
Who’s in it: Yoon-seok Kim, Yoo-chun Park, Yeri Han, Lee Hee-joon, Moon Sung-keun
What it’s about: Based on the true story of Korean-Chinese immigrants who suffocated to death on a fishing boat in 2001, Sea Fog follows a crew that smuggles over 30 illegal immigrants from China to Korea. However, they're forced to deal with a number of obstacles along the way, including heavy fogs and being constantly pursued by the South Korean Maritime Police.