Header image courtesy of Netflix
In the past decade, we have seen Korean cinema gather a huge following amongst movie junkies and casual cinema-goers. From action to romance, and speculative disasters to horror, there is a wide variety of genres that the Korean film industry is particularly invested in. Living in Hong Kong makes streaming these top-quality flicks on Netflix that much easier. Looking for a few gems to binge over the weekend? Here’s a list of the best Korean movies on Netflix Hong Kong that are worth checking out.
While the wonders of Korean cinema started long before the twentieth century, the golden age of its contemporary films arguably began in 2010. The Man from Nowhere is one of the films that pushed Korean storytelling into the international arena. Following the life of a shady and quiet pawn shop owner, The Man from Nowhere showcases his journey as he embarks on a rampage to rescue his only friend from her kidnappers. Action-filled and heartwarming, this movie has aged well and remains enjoyable in 2022.
Although this movie came out in 2016, Train to Busan still holds up as a monumental piece defining modern Korean cinema. Amidst a mysterious viral outbreak that plunges the country into chaos, an express train heads for Busan, the only city managing to fend off the outbreak. Filled with heartbreak, endearing moments, and familial love, Train to Busan is brilliant in its portrayal of humanity in a state of emergency, and its zombie acting.
If you’re a fan of how Western media has portrayed nuclear disasters, you’re going to love Pandora. Following the life of a nuclear power plant worker, the story documents the collapse of a nuclear reactor and the workers who decide to repair the collapse as best as possible after being exposed to a large dose of radiation. Terrifyingly realistic and filled with heart-breaking goodbyes, Pandora captures the unimaginable consequences of humanity’s arrogance in opening the Pandora’s box that is nuclear power.
The Two Worlds is the first part of two in the Along with the Gods series, followed by The Last 49 Days (2018). Based on a webtoon series, The Two Worlds is a fantasy-action film that details firefighter Kim Ja-hong’s journey through the afterlife after dying in the line of duty. An epic film with stunning visuals and effects that still hold up in 2022, this is definitely a binge-worthy title for any mythological fantasy enthusiasts.
Although released in 2017, The Outlaws is set in 2007, amidst the conflict between Chinese-Korean gangs and an infamous crime lord. It follows detective Ma Seok-do as he tries to contain the wars that broke out between the groups in an action-filled epic. Definitely one for those who love a bit of over-the-top, John Wick-style movie violence.
Directed by Yeon Sang-ho, Psychokinesis is the director’s next action thriller following Train to Busan. It is also Korea’s first superhero film, and the story follows an ordinary bank security guard, who gains the power of telekinesis after drinking water from a mountain spring near a meteor strike crater. He decides to use his newfound powers to save his daughter from a starkly ordinary yet pressing threat: construction companies looking to buy land from old residential neighbourhoods for commercial projects by forcing people out of their homes. Heart-warming yet hilarious at times, Psychokinesis offers a different take on what it means to be a superhero in our contemporary world.
Many of you will already have heard of—if not seen—the first non-English-language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2019. Parasite is a dark comedy thriller that follows the Kims, who live in a semi-basement apartment (반지하; banjiha) and struggle to make a living with low-paying jobs. When opportunity strikes, and the eldest son, Ki-woo, is given a chance to tutor a girl from a wealthy family, greed overtakes rationality and deceit and deception take the lead for the Kim family. Uncomfortably true to life, Parasite confronts economic inequalities in Korea with flying colours.
If you’re a fan of the geological disaster movie San Andreas (2015), then you’re going to love Ashfall, a movie that details the aftermath of Mount Baektu’s eruption and is no less impressive in its visuals and the fear it manages to strike in you with the suggestion of impending disaster. Following the eruption of the stratovolcano, citizens, special forces, and scientists must work together to manage the spread of volcanic ashfall, which is enough to plunge the Korean Peninsula and much of Asia into a nuclear winter.
In a dystopian Korea plagued by outlaws and criminals, nothing is more powerful than money. In this new society, a group of friends, unable to hold steady employment since the fall of the stock market, plan a heist in an attempt to earn enough cash to escape to a paradise too good to be true—in Taiwan. After successfully hijacking a high-profile casino run by one of the largest crime families in the city, they find themselves being hunted by a mysterious assassin with a thirst for blood and violence. An action thriller through and through, Time to Hunt is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Although this is another film centred around a heist, Collectors is far from similar to Time to Hunt in its setting and plot. Following a genius robber with an exceptional skillset suited to his profession, Collectors details his upcoming heist to obtain a series of antiques, right in the middle of Seoul. If you fancy a bit of culture to go with your action, this one’s for you.
Seoul Vibe is an action movie featuring an ensemble cast. Set during the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the film follows a group of drivers, the Sangyedong Supreme Team, and details the racers’ attempt to expose the political corruption behind the slush fund associated with the games. Exciting and fast-paced yet filled with mystery and tension, Seoul Vibe is for those who crave a detective story with a healthy dose of explosive action.
If you’re looking for a nostalgic and comforting movie to watch with a steaming mug of hot chocolate, 20th Century Girl is your choice. Set in 1999 at the turn of the century, the movie revolves around Na Bo-ra, a high school student, and everything she encounters in this bright period of life. From inseparable friendships to blossoming romances and first loves, this is a film that will bring back all the best memories of your youth in an instant.