The 15 Best Korean Horror Movies of All Time, Ranked

Some of the scariest films come from South Korea. Here are the best Korean horror movies you absolutely need to see.
The 15 Best Korean Horror Movies of All Time, Ranked

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Horror movies play a big role in various Asian cultures, and South Koreans in particular love their horror movies.

Over the last few decades, South Korean filmmakers have perfected their ability to bring to life all kinds of creepy characters in dreadful atmospheres using shocking special effects.

While many Korean horror movies center on stories of hatred and revenge, you'll also find plots that revolve around heinous crimes, witchcraft, demonic possession, and more.

Here are our picks for the best Korean horror movies of all time that are worth watching if you want to be terrified!

15. Hansel and Gretel (2007)

Directed by Yim Pil-sung

Starring Chun Jung-myung, Eun Won-jae, Shim Eun-kyung

Drama, Fantasy, Horror (1h 57m)

6.7 on IMDb75% on RT

Superpowers don't often mesh well with horror stories, but Hansel and Gretel proved that it can be a good combination when properly done.

While the title suggests that this would be a kids movie based on the famous fairy tale, the South Korean film Hansel and Gretel is far from a kids film with its themes of deceit, murder, and cannibalism.

The story starts with Eun-soo (played by Chun Jung-myung) getting into a car accident and being brought to a house in the middle of the woods by a young girl named Young-hee (played by Shim Eun-kyung).

Once there, things start to get creepy as the ones who let him in aren't what they seem to be at first.

14. The Mimic (2017)

Directed by Huh Jung

Starring Yum Jung-ah, Park Hyuk-kwon, Heo Jin

Horror, Mystery, Thriller (1h 40m)

5.6 on IMDb83% on RT

The Mimic is a horror-thriller story written and directed by Huh Jung, based on a popular South Korean legend.

The story revolves around a family that lives in the woods. One day, the mother takes in a lost child whose voice sounds exactly like her own daughter's, while the father remains wary and warns her not to. As you'd expect, the lost child is not what they seem.

The Mimic is based on the myth of the Jangsan Tiger, which lures its victims by mimicking human voices—especially those of women and children—into its den to be devoured.

13. The Cat (2011)

Directed by Byun Seung-wook

Starring Park Min-young, Kim Dong-wook, Kim Ye-ron

Drama, Horror, Mystery (1h 46m)

5.7 on IMDbN/A on RT

Cats are generally lovable creatures, but sometimes they can be really scary—like when they blankly stare at a corner of the room, as if they can see an entity that's invisible to us.

In The Cat, these feline pets bring death to their owners, and the cat-eyed child that appears with them is visually terrifying.

But there's more to The Cat than jump scares and empty horror. In fact, buried within is a surprisingly heartbreaking story.

The Cat centers on a claustrophobic pet groomer So-yeon (played by Park Min-young), who becomes haunted by these terrifying cats.

12. Phone (2002)

Directed by Ahn Byung-ki

Starring Ha Ji-won, Kim Yoo-mi, Choi Woo-jae

Horror, Mystery, Thriller (1h 44m)

6.1 on IMDb56% on RT

Back before smartphones were ubiquitous, there was the horror film Phone, which features ghosts who call on primitive mobile phones to communicate with the living.

The film stars Ha Ji-won as a journalist also named Ji-won, who receives phone calls from unknown callers. After she switches to a new phone, the unknown callers keep coming—but this time they're far more sinister and unrelated to her job.

While the main horror element of Phone revolves around these mysterious calls, the story also features a crime drama element that adds a good amount of dread and body horror.

11. Death Bell (2008)

Directed by Yoon Hong-seung

Starring Lee Beom-soo, Kim Bum, Nam Gyu-ri

Horror, Thriller (1h 28m)

5.5 on IMDbN/A on RT

If you love mystery, Death Bell will give you chills. It's a perplexing story about guilt, grief, death, and revenge.

Death Bell starts with a group of elite high school students who are taken down one by one by a mysterious figure. Combined with the disappearance of the top student, this mystery figure leaves questions for the students and teachers to answer.

The movie feels a lot like the original Saw—where the culprit leaves puzzles to be solved by the victims—with a Korean twist.

10. Bunshinsaba (2004)

Directed by Ahn Byung-ki

Starring Kim Gyu-ri, Lee Se-eun, Lee Yoo-ri

Horror, Thriller (2h)

5.6 on IMDbN/A on RT

Witchcraft is a frequent topic of interest in Korean horror movies, and Bunshinsaba is a prime example of the genre.

Bunshinsaba involves a group of high school girls who are bullied by their classmates. To exact revenge, they attempt to use a Ouija board to place curses on their bullies.

Unfortunately, now their class is haunted by the spirit of the dead that they summoned with the ritual.

Bunshinsaba touches on themes of discrimination, bullying, arrogance that leads to one's downfall, and how far people will go to get revenge. As the story progresses, feelings of guilt grow stronger than revenge—but by then it's too late to turn back.

9. Voice (2005)

Directed by Choi Equan

Starring Kim Ok-bin, Cha Ye-ryun, Seo Ji-hye

Horror (1h 44m)

6.2 on IMDbN/A on RT

Whispering Corridors is a South Korean film series comprised of different films released between 1998 to 2021. But the films in the series are all standalone, including the fourth entry Voice.

Voice follows the story of Young-eon (played by Kim Ok-bin), a student at an all-girls school who's killed during singing practice. The murder weapon? A music sheet.

Now, her spirit wanders the school premises, and the only person who can hear her is her best friend Seon-min (played by Seo Ji-hye). As they investigate, however, they're led to unexpected results.

8. Metamorphosis (2019)

Directed by Kim Hong-sun

Starring Bae Sung-woo, Sung Dong-il, Jang Young-nam

Horror, Thriller (1h 53m)

5.9 on IMDb40% on RT

Demonic possession is a popular angle for horror movies, and Metamorphosis does it extremely well. With a concept that feels familiar if you've seen The Conjuring, Metamorphosis involves a family that's haunted and disturbed by an evil spirit.

The story involves a priest who fails to exorcise a demon and ends up being cursed along with his family. The atmosphere and special effects look like the real thing, including one dead cat and a dead goat that's cut open and mutilated.

Yes, Metamorphosis contains animal butchering on top of occult rituals and spiritual possession. It may be too much for someone who isn't good with gruesome violence and inhuman acts.

7. The Ring Virus (1999)

Directed by Kim Dong-bin

Starring Shin Eun-kyung, Lee Seung-hyun, Jung Jin-young

Horror (1h 48m)

5.9 on IMDbN/A on RT

The Ring Virus is the South Korean film adaptation of the famous Ring novel by Koji Suzuki, and it can be considered a remake of the Japanese horror film Ringu (1998).

The Ring Virus has nearly the same storyline as Ring, but instead of Sadako Yamamura, this time we have Park Eun-suh (played by Bae Doona) as the antagonist who made the cursed videotape.

There are only a few key differences between the two films, so why was The Ring Virus made? Well, there used to be a ban on the importation of Japanese media, and that included Ringu. (Funny enough, the ban was lifted during production of The Ring Virus.)

6. Svaha: The Sixth Finger (2019)

Directed by Jang Jae-hyun

Starring Lee Jung-jae, Yoo Ji-tae, Suk Mun

Crime, Horror, Mystery (2h 2m)

6.2 on IMDbN/A on RT

When a film successfully incorporates crime mystery into its horror premise, you can expect more than empty jump scares.

Svaha: The Sixth Finger is an example of a well-written crime mystery that's fitted with a supernatural horror theme. All of these elements—the crime, the mystery, the occult—result in a twisted fate for the characters as everything unravels.

Starring Lee Jung-jae as a pastor who investigates cults and exposes them to the public, Svaha: The Sixth Finger has him investigating a strange Buddhist sect that's darker than he first realizes.

5. The Doll Master (2004)

Directed by Jeong Yong-ki

Starring Kim Yu-mi, Lim Eun-kyeong, Shim Hyung-tak

Horror, Thriller (1h 30m)

5.7 on IMDbN/A on RT

The Doll Master features one of the most creepy elements in horror films: dolls. The film involves a revenge plot where the creepy figures contribute greatly to the horrific mood of the story.

The film centers on a group of people who are invited to an isolated doll museum as human models, who are told that they'll have ball-jointed dolls made in their image by a dollmaker.

Unbeknownst to them, someone in the shadows wants to exact revenge on those who have wronged her in the past.

4. The Call (2020)

Directed by Lee Chung-hyun

Starring Park Shin-hye, Jeon Jong-seo, Kim Sung-ryung

Crime, Horror, Mystery (1h 52m)

7.1 on IMDb100% on RT

The Call is a South Korean horror movie where past meets future, featuring an unexpected connection between two people from different timelines through an old phone.

At first, the relationship is mutual. But as this relationship deepens, the mutuality is eventually broken when it's apparent that one side is taking advantage of the other.

While The Call isn't horror in the sense of ghosts, paranormal activities, or slasher sprees, it's still a terrifying watch. How does one defeat the past when it continues to linger in the present? It's enough to send chills down your spine.

3. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Directed by Kim Jee-woon

Starring Im Soo-jung, Moon Geun-young, Yum Jung-ah

Drama, Horror, Mystery (1h 54m)

7.1 on IMDb86% on RT

A Tale of Two Sisters is a psychological horror film inspired by a Korean folktale titled "Janghwa Hongryeon jeon" (which translates as "The Story of Janghwa and Hongryeon").

Directed by Kim Jee-woon, A Tale of Two Sisters stars Im Soo-jung and Moon Geun-young as the titular sisters, who don't have a great relationship with their stepmother.

While A Tale of Two Sisters does include ghosts and other paranormal elements, the horror of this film goes deeper than that—and it cements its greatness with a surprisingly good plot twist.

2. Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018)

Directed by Jung Bum-shik

Starring Wi Ha-joon, Yoo Je-yoon, Lee Seung-wook

Horror (1h 35m)

6.4 on IMDb91% on RT

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is a found-footage horror movie about a group of content creators who visit a haunted asylum in South Korea to boost their views.

The asylum is based on a real-life psychiatric hospital that's famous for ghost sightings and paranormal activities.

The story begins with the crew preparing for their expedition. As they start shooting and delve deeper into the wards, unexplained occurrences and appearances happen before the crew's eyes.

Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is a strong example of a found-footage movie done well, making viewers feel like they're right there with the crew. The atmosphere and characters are totally creepy, amplifying the story that'll make you want to watch with eyes half-covered.

1. Warning: Do Not Play (2019)

Directed by Kim Jin-won

Starring Seo Ye-ji, Jin Seon-kyu, Kim Bo-ra

Horror, Mystery (1h 26m)

5.3 on IMDbN/A on RT

Warning: Do Not Play (also called Amjeon) gives the cursed video genre of horror movies a few new twists that take the thrills to the next level. It also incorporates elements of the found footage genre.

Warning: Do Not Play stars Seo Ye-ji as Park Mi-jung, a rookie movie director who's preparing to make her next horror film.

When she hears about a horror film that supposedly makes its viewers go wild—with one even dying of a heart attack—she resolves to get her hands on it so she can get some inspiration from it.

Despite warnings from the director of said film, she refuses to listen because of the deadline that's closing in—and it's only a matter of time before she regrets her persistence.