Most of us have already checked out at least one Korean drama or Korean movie on Netflix. Be it an award-winning film like Parasite, a hilarious, heartwarming k-drama like Crash Landing on You, or an edge-of-your-seat action story like Train to Busan or Squid Game, you've likely been sucked into Korean entertainment at least once. For newcomers who are thrill-seekers, there are plenty of Korean thrillers that offer the excellent character-building and well-paced suspense that keeps us wondering just what will come next. These are our favorite Korean thrillers on Netflix right now.
The Call (2020)
In this psychological thriller taking place across two timelines, Kim Seo-Yeon (Park Shin-hye) answers a call in 2019 and is connected with Oh Young-Sook (Money Heist: Korea's Jeon Jong-seo), who lives in 1999 and is being abused by her stepmother. Using a mysterious cordless phone, the women try to change both their fates with dangerous consequences.
Time to Hunt (2020)
This dystopian crime drama takes place in a fictional future South Korea after the country has a financial collapse. A group of friends, led by Jun-seok, rob an illegal gambling house, scoring thousands of dollars and incriminating footage. When the people who ran the house hire a hitman to kill the group one by one, it's a race against time to evade the hitman and survive.
This disaster film starts when an earthquake strikes a town and affects the reactors at the local power plant. A middle-aged plant worker escapes the plant during an initial cave-in, but the situation quickly grows out of control as the remaining workers and politicians fail to stop a full meltdown. It falls to the plant worker and his girlfriend to get as many of the towns' residents to safety as possible.
This present-day zombie thriller follows a video game live-streamer named Joon-woo through a virus outbreak, where infected humans turn into flesh-eating monsters in the blink of an eye. As Joon-woo barricades himself in his apartment, while his family are stuck outside, he slowly loses hope until he discovers another survivor nearby.
If period thrillers are more your style, this Joseon-era film follows an exiled prince (played by Crash Landing on You's Hyun Bin) who returns home during an attempted coup led by the Minister of War (Jang Dong-gun). The political battle takes place amid a zombie infestation, with the prince fighting to save the people as the minister uses the virus as a pawn in his quest for power.
Svaha: The Sixth Finger (2019)
In this supernatural detective-thriller, an eccentric pastor (played by Squid Game's Lee Jung-Jae) is hired to investigate a mysterious cult called "Deer Mountain." When he crosses paths with a detective looking into the murder of a young girl, they team up, and go down a path filled with ghosts and demons.
This twisted psychological drama starts with a young man witnessing his brother's abduction in 1997. Nineteen days later, the brother returns home with no memory of what happened, seeming to have suppressed the memories. Soon after, the man realizes that his family is acting strange, and when he goes to the police seek help, he finds that the year is actually 2019. He's then kidnapped by his "brother," setting off a murder plot where the man has to figure out what happened to his "family" and clear his name, all while wondering if he's really losing his mind.
Lucid Dream (2017)
This sci-fi thriller follows single dad Choi Dae-ho (played by Go Soo), an investigative journalist who exposes corrupt politicians and executives. Three years after his son is abducted, with no developments in the case, Dae-ho undergoes a new therapy that unlocks his memories through lucid dreams, discovering new clues in the search for his son.
The Chase (2017)
In this crime flick, a detective loses a serial killer, which destroys his state of mind. Thirty years later, the killer reemerges and the now-retired detective jumps back on the case. He seeks the help of a local property owner who knows everything happening in town, and together they work to solve the case.
Night in Paradise (2020)
This noir thriller balances calm, contemplative scenes with brutal fight sequences, with enforcer Tae-goo (Uhm Tae-goo) stuck in the middle of a mob war. After taking vengeance on the deaths of his half-sister and niece, Tae-goo travels to Jeju Island to lie low on the coast. There he meets Jae-yeon (Vincenzo's Jeon Yeo-been), a talented sharpshooter dying of a terminal disease. Their new bond is tested by both of their impending deaths, Jae-yeon's by the disease and Tae-goo's by all the forces coming after him.
The 8th Night (2021)
In this supernatural film, a monster that opened the door to Hell is reawakened when an anthropologist unearths one of its long-buried eyes. A group of monks, including novice Cheon-seok (Nam Da-reum) and former student Park Jin-soo (Lee Sung-min), set out to stop the monster before it comes to full power. Meanwhile, skeptic detective Kim Ho-tae (Park Hae-joon) is investigating the monster's ritual killings.
26 Years (2012)
This premise of this film is based on the real-life massacre of innocent citizens by state troops in the Gwanju, South Korea, in May 1980. 26 years after the massacre, five people whose family members died in the massacre–a sports shooter, a gangster, a policeman, a businessman, and head of a private security firm–team up to assassinate the man responsible, an unnamed former president.
The Drug King (2019)
This gangster film depicts the real-life story of Lee Doo-sam (Parasite's Song Kang-ho), a small-time jewelry smuggler looking to take care of his family becomes an infamous drug lord in Busan in the 1970s. In addition to showing Lee building his empire, the film also shows the Korean Central Intelligence Agency investigation against him, led by an arrogant officer.
Steel Rain (2019)
An attempted coup in North Korea sets off this political thriller, following a skilled top agent and a nerdy presidential secretary. After being used as a pawn in the coup, the odd pair save the North Korean leader and takes him to South Korea to receive medical treatment. As they're hunted by the coup officers, the two men team up to keep the leader safe and avert a nuclear war.
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