10 Great Korean Horror Movies To Watch, Including Parasite

Park So-dam and Cho Yeo-jeong in Parasite
(Image credit: CJ Entertainment)

Korean horror films, like their American counterparts, come in varying shapes, sizes, and degrees of scary. If you’re in the mood for revenge horror, there are many. Spooky ghost flicks? There are even more. And, there are plenty of monster features. Korean horror films have a rich cinematic history, but Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is one of the global hits of this genre. Many consider it one of the best Korean movies of all-time.

Parasite won the 2020 Academy Award for Best Picture and got many other countries more interested in Korean cinema, especially horror and thriller films. It’s time to expand your horror lens, and I have a few suggestions on where to start. For this list, I chose movies of varying horror degrees, so you may at least find one that satisfies your craving for mayhem and madness. Prepare to be mortified, or at least quite scared.

Choi Woo-shik in Parasite

(Image credit: CJ Entertainment)

Parasite (2019)

Bong Joon-ho directed Parasite, a movie that follows two families from different social classes: the poor Kim family and the rich Park clan. The story revolves around the Kim family manipulating their way into the Park family’s life and home. However, the Kims soon discover that they’re not the only ones trying to get a little taste of the good life. This cast includes Choi Woo-shik, Kang-Ho Song, Lee Jeong-eun, and Cho Yeo-jeong.

Parasite is one of those films with layers to analyze and unpack, especially the ending. It has depth upon depth and different dimensions of horror. The main villain is society and the class system. The film’s horrors are shown with themes of classism, greed, ambition, and murder. It infects your brain and doesn’t let you forget it.

Stream Parasite on Max

Gong Yoo in Train to Busan

(Image credit: Next Entertainment World)

Train To Busan (2016)

Yeon Sang-ho directed Train to Busan. It starts with a neglectful father (Gong Yoo) trying to make things up to his daughter (Kim Soo-Ahn) by taking her on a train to Busan for her birthday so that she can see her mother. Things quickly escalate when a zombie boards the train. The passengers soon learn that a zombie outbreak has hit everywhere and Busan is the only safe zone at the moment.

Train to Busan doesn’t go easy on viewers as it’s action-packed right from the start. The stakes are high and it never allows you a moment to relax. You’re on edge all the way to the very last frame. The film also makes sure that you care about these likely doomed characters, so some of their eventual deaths become even more tragic. The cast includes Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi, Choi Woo-shik, and Sohee. A sequel, Train to Busan: Peninsula, came out in 2020. Other films are planned for the franchise. 

Stream Train to Busan on Netflix. 

Im Soo-jung and Moon Geun-young in A Tale of Two Sisters

(Image credit: Cineclick Asia Big Blue Film)

A Tale Of Two Sisters (2004)

Kim Jee-woon directed A Tale of Two Sisters, a psychological horror film that will leave you doubting reality. Su-mi (Im Soo-jung) arrives back home after spending some time in a mental hospital. She quickly picks up where things left off with her sister Su-yeon (Moon Geun-young), but her stepmother Eun-joo (Yum Jung-ah) seems to be a source of stress in their lives.

A Tale of Two Sisters is like a good Victorian ghost story where you don’t quite know if the ghosts are real or just mental ghosts, or both. Reality becomes very blurry in this thrilling movie. Yum Jung-ah gives a fantastic performance as she feels like the ultimate evil stepmother. She makes Cinderella’s wicked stepmom look like a weakling. In 2009, America produced a remake of it with The Uninvited, starring Elizabeth Banks. You can skip thate, but the original is definitely worth your time. 

As of February 2024, A Tale of Two Sisters is only available in the USA with Kanopy, a free streaming service to those with access through their public library or university. 

Stream A Tale of Two Sisters on Kanopy.  

Jun Kunimura in The Wailing

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

The Wailing (2016)

Na Hong-Jin directs The Wailing. It follows Jong-goo (Kwak Do-won), a police officer who starts to investigate the mysterious murders around his village. They all seem tied to a Japanese stranger (Jun Kunimura).

Prepare to have your day ruined with The Wailing. It has demons, ghosts, zombie-like creatures, and legends. Basically, it has everything to give you nightmares and make you seek immediate emotional help. This film has lots of great twists, scares, and will genuinely frighten you. It’s definitely a horror film worth watching.

Stream The Wailing on Netflix. 

Go Ah-sung and Song Kang-ho in The Host

(Image credit: Showbox)

The Host (2006)

Bong Joon-ho directed this Korean monster movie about a creature that emerges in the Han River from chemical waste being dumped in by careless Americans. The monster abducts Gang-Doo (Kang-Ho Song)’s daughter, Hyun-Seo (Go Ah-sung). He and his family go on a quest to rescue her and stop this abnormal sea creature.

Like many of Bong Joon-ho’s other movies, The Host effortlessly blends horror with comedy. One minute you’ll be laughing at Gang-Doo and the next screaming in terror. In The Host, the sea creature isn’t the true monster, it’s the American government, or possibly even governments in general. Once again, Bong Joon-ho cleverly comments on society while using a monstrous disturbance to do it.

Stream The Host on Paramount Plus + Showtime. 

Lee Byung-hun in I Saw the Devil

(Image credit: Showbox)

I Saw The Devil (2010)

I Saw The Devil is a revenge thriller directed by Kim Jee-woon. Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun)’s fiancé is brutally murdered by serial killer Kyung-Chul (Choi Min-sik), so naturally, Soo-hyun goes on a quest to find out who killed his fiancé, and once he does, he goes on a mission to torture him.

This film is gruesome and hard to watch at times (especially if you get a little queasy when watching scenes with a lot of blood and body parts being removed), but it’s one of the best horror movie thrillers I’ve ever seen. It’s a complex story about revenge, true evil, brutality, and the line between humanity and monsters. It never lets you relax and just watch. You’re utterly shaken all the way through, and I kind of really enjoyed that type of film anxiety.

Stream I Saw The Devil On Prime Video. 

Nam Sang-mi in Possessed/Living Death

(Image credit: Showbox)

Possessed/Living Death (2009)

Lee Yong-ju directed Possessed, sometimes also titled Living Death. It follows Hee-Jin (Nam Sang-mi) as she returns home after her 14-year old sister, So-jin (Shim Eun-Kyung), disappears. As she digs deeper into So-jin’s vanishing, her neighbors soon start to die.

Possessed is a ghost story and demonic possession tale that shows the demon more as the victim than the humans. You almost feel bad for it, because the people using it aren’t shown in the best light. This film also tries to bring religion into the conversation by questioning worship practices.

Stream Possessed/Living Death on Prime Video.

Seo Young-hee in Bedevilled

(Image credit: Sponge ENT)

Bedevilled (2010)

Bedevilled is about two women, Bok-nam (Seo Young hee) and Hae-won (Hwang Geum-hee). Hae-won returns to their quiet little village to escape the problems she’s having in Seoul. Hae-won witnesses the abuse that Bok-nam experiences daily, but offers no help. Eventually, the villagers go too far and Bok-nam goes crazy and starts a killing spree. It is directed by Jang Cheol-soo.

This is a revenge thriller, similar to I Spit On Your Grave and its sequel, and the movie, Straw Dogs, so it has a lot of violent scenes towards Bok-nam, which ensures that you’re rooting for her to get her revenge. By the end, you’re 100 percent on Bok-nam’s side and cheering for these villagers to die.

Rent or buy Bedevilled on Amazon.

Jeon Jong-seo in The Call

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Call (2020)

Lee Chung-hyun’s The Call falls more into the thriller genre but has some horror elements. It follows Seo-yeon (Park Shin-hye) and Young-sook (Jeon Jong-seo), who connect through a telephone. They live in the same home but at different times. The women form a close bond and use the phone to alter time. Seo-yeon informs Young-sook of things that happen in the future, including her death.

The Call has lots of thrilling twists that are too fun to ruin by sharing them now. Just know that things escalate quite quickly to grab your attention. Plus, the ending is mouth-dropping. This film is an exciting new chapter in the world of time-traveling movies because it falls into madness. It’s a very dark chapter in the time-travel genre, but one that’s very captivating. 

Stream The Call on Netflix.

Eun Won-jae, Shim Eun-kyung, and Jin Ji-he in Hansel and Gretel

(Image credit: CJ Entertainment)

Hansel And Gretel (2007)

Yim Pil-sung directed Hansel and Gretel, which, as you probably guessed, is a twisted retelling of the fairytale. However, this film only uses some aspects of the classic tale. Lee Eun-soo (Chun Jung-myung) finds himself lost in the forest. Then a young girl helps him find the way to her house. She lives with her parents and two siblings. Things start fine, but then become increasingly weird, especially the children’s behavior. Eun-soo uncovers more disturbing details and activities the longer he stays in the home.

The children in Hansel and Gretel deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame for creepy children. They are frightening. But, the film explores their origin and makes you sympathize with them. It keeps them scary but you start to understand their darkness.

Stream Hansel and Gretel on Tubi. 

I only listed a few films, but many streaming services have a ton of Korean horror films available to stream. Tubi, especially, has a wide selection of Korean movies all for free. I enjoyed every film listed, but if you can only watch a couple (besides Parasite), I highly recommend I Saw the Devil (if you can stomach it), The Call, Hansel and Gretel, and The Wailing.

Jerrica Tisdale
Freelance Writer

Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.