The 13 Best Korean Movies of 2020 | Cinema Escapist

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Best Korean Movies 2020

Due to South Korea’s comparatively competent coronavirus response, 2020 nonetheless noticed a variety of Korean movies hit theaters and streaming websites—although clearly a lot fewer final 12 months.

See more: Top korean movies 2020

You could be questioning: what are the Finest Korean Motion pictures of 2020?

Cinema Escapist‘s employees have curated this checklist of the highest 13 Korean movies from 2020 to assist reply that query. We selected these 13 Korean films based mostly on their leisure worth, narrative innovation, craft, and sociopolitical significance. When out there, we’ve included hyperlinks to stream films on companies like Netflix.

This checklist consists of movies from genres together with motion, romance, comedy and extra—some films even embody well timed pandemic themes. Followers of Korean stars like Park Shin-hye, Hwang Jung-min, and Lee Byung-hun can even discover these actors adequately represented. Even when a coronavirus-stricken 2020’s Korean movie lineup finds it arduous to compete with 2019’s (a.ok.a. the 12 months of Parasite), there’s nonetheless some respectable entries.

Let’s check out 2020’s finest Korean films!

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13. Hitman: Agent Jun

Korean Title: 히트맨 | Director: Choi Received-sub | Starring: Kwon Sang-woo, Jung Joon-ho, Hwang Woo-seul-hye | Style: Motion, Comedy

As soon as upon a time, a famend Korean Nationwide Intelligence Service (NIS) agent named Jun fakes his demise so as to turn into a webtoon artist. Nevertheless, his drunkenly created hit webtoon collection unintentionally reveals labeled info—and his previous comes again to hang-out him.

Welcome to the absurd and enjoyable story of Hitman: Agent Jun. This action-comedy looks like a cousin to the 2019 hit Ok-movie Excessive Job, which had a equally preposterous premise round undercover cops who unintentionally create a profitable fried hen restaurant. For those who appreciated Excessive Job’s mix of quirky comedy and combat scenes, you then’ll in all probability take pleasure in Hitman. The movie additionally innovates by mixing animation and stay motion, staying true to its protagonist’s webtoon wishes.

12. Trustworthy Candidate

Korean Title: 정직한 후보 | Director: Jang Yu-jeong | Starring: Ra Mi-ran, Kim Mu-yeol, Na Moon-hee | Style: Political, Comedy

What if a politician couldn’t inform lies? That is the premise of Trustworthy Candidate, a political comedy who focuses on a Nationwide Meeting member who will get stricken with an incapability to lie simply as she must run for re-election. It’s like a Korean model of Hollywood’s Liar Liar (starring Jim Carrey), however with a political twist.

Trustworthy Candidate gained’t blow anyone’s thoughts with its storyline. Nevertheless, it does provide an accessible look into South Korea’s electoral politics. The movie leans extra closely into emotional enchantment than coverage discussions, and lead actress Ra Mi-ran offers a wonderful efficiency. Trustworthy Candidate can be a member of an more and more uncommon breed: the uplifting (versus darkish) political comedy.

11. The Girl Who Ran

Korean Title: 도망친 여자 | Director: Hong Sang-soo | Starring: Kim Min-hee, Website positioning Younger-hwa, Music Seon-mi, Kim Sae-byuk | Style: Drama

Hong Sang-soo is one in all Korea’s most famed artwork home administrators, and he returned in 2020 with The Girl Who Ran. The movie screened at quite a few worldwide festivals (ex. 2020’s New York FIlm Pageant) regardless of COVID, and stars Kim Min-hee—who international audiences may know from The Handmaiden, and stalwart Hong Sang-soo aficionados will know incessantly collaborates with the director

Whereas Hong’s movies often depict the relations (typically within the type of affairs) between women and men, The Girl Who Ran gives a uniquely feminine focus. The film accommodates three scenes by which its feminine protagonist visits three different feminine associates, and displays upon her life within the course of.

Given its inventive leaning, The Girl Who Ran isn’t for everybody. Nevertheless, if you happen to’re a fan of Hong Sang-soo, it’s a becoming capstone to his oeuvre to this point.

Study extra about The Girl Who Ran in our full-length evaluate.

10. Ship Us From Evil

Korean Title: 다만 악에서 구하소서 | Director: Hong Received-chan | Starring: Hwang Jung-min, Lee Jung-jae, Park Jung-min | Style: Motion, Thriller

The “powerful fatherly man protects youthful woman” story is a staple of worldwide cinema (assume Taken, Leon The Skilled, and extra), and Korea gives its tackle the subgenre with Ship Us from Evil. Starring three extremely bankable actors—Hwang Jung-min, Lee Jung-jae, and Park Jung-min—the film provides fistfights and gunfights aplenty.

Whereas Ship Us from Evil doesn’t include the identical soulfulness as different Korean motion films like A Bittersweet Life, it does innovate on another fronts. For example, Park Jung-min performs a transgender character—which builds upon different Korean media (ex. hit drama Itaewon Class) that give non-negative depictions of minority teams.

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Learn extra about Ship Us from Evil in our full evaluate.

9. Time to Hunt

Korean Title: 사냥의 시간 | Director: Yoon Sung-hyun | Starring: Lee Je-hoon, Ahn Jae-hong, Choi Woo-shik, Park Jeong-min, Park Hae-soo | Style: Thriller, Motion

Time To Hunt was one other 2020 Korean movie that made it to the worldwide pageant circuit, together with a slot on the Berlinale. Nevertheless, this isn’t some highfalutin artwork home temper piece; it’s an motion thriller that takes place in a bleak, post-capitalist dystopian Korea. The film additionally stars recognizable actors, together with Choi Woo-shik of Parasite fame.

In Time to Hunt, a bunch of younger males steal cash from an underground on line casino. The heist goes nicely, however places a mysterious murderer on their tails—whom they have to evade or die making an attempt.

Moreover motion and suspense, Time to Hunt supplies one more tackle the financial anxieties that underlie South Korean films like Parasite. It immediately attracts from lingering trauma of the 1997 Asian Monetary Disaster (recognized in Korea because the “IMF Disaster”), a historic occasion that has reared its head in quite a few Korean blockbusters and dramas (ex. Metropolis Hunter).

Study extra about Time to Hunt in our complete evaluate, and stream it on Netflix.

8. #Alive

Korean Title: #살아있다 | Director: Cho Il-hyung | Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Park Shin-hye | Style: Zombie, Motion

With the success of 2016’s Practice to Busan, Korean zombie movies turned a scorching matter worldwide. Whereas Practice to Busan’s 2020 sequel Peninsula wasn’t significantly nice, one other Korean zombie film caught our eye this 12 months: #Alive.

Starring high actors Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-hye, #Alive depicts a zombie apocalypse in Seoul from the angle of two millennials who stay alone in high-rise residences. As town descends into chaos round them, the 2 bond by way of know-how and start collaborating to outlive.

Although the movie isn’t a bit of philosophical enlightenment, #Alive presents a story that’s not solely action-packed but in addition sociopolitically resonant. Within the coronavirus locked-down world of 2020, a narrative about folks discovering new methods to stay resilient lives utilizing know-how feels exceptionally related. Millennials will particularly relate the #Alive’s protagonists’ struggles, and really feel seen on this zombie movie that appears tailored for the COVID period.

Study extra about #Alive in our evaluate.

#Alive can be out there for streaming on Netflix worldwide.

7. Samjin Firm English Class

Korean Title: 삼진그룹 영어토익반 | Director: Lee Jong-pil | Starring: Go Ah-sung, Esom, Park Hye-su | Style: Comedy, Drama

Regardless of its identify, Samjin Firm English Class isn’t actually about studying English. As an alternative, it’s a socially aware comedy about three feminine staff of the Samjin Firm who bump into unethical enterprise practices and try to seek out the culprits. Alongside the best way, they take care of company hierarchies and protracted gender discrimination; the film’s title comes from a requirement that Samjin staff rating at the very least 600 factors on the TOEIC take a look at so as to get promoted.

South Korea has come out with some good feminist movies currently (ex. Kim Ji-young, Born 1982), although they have a tendency to lean extra in the direction of the dramatic facet. Samjin Firm English class expands the repertoire of Korean feminist flicks with its extra lighthearted and approachable—however no much less incisive—take. The movie’s relatable characters will pull you in, and its investigatory narrative will maintain you engaged till its remaining moments.

6. Collectors

Korean Title: 도굴 | Director: Park Jung-bae | Starring: Lee Je-hoon, Jo Woo-jin, Shin Hye-sun | Style: Heist, Comedy, Drama, Journey

Think about if Hollywood’s well-known Indiana Jones franchise was Korean, and had much more humor. You’d in all probability find yourself with one thing fairly just like Collectors, whose Korean title immediately interprets to “Grave Robbers.”

On this Korean film, a crew of antiquities (together with a personality actually named “Dr. Jones”) thieves aspire to retrieve an historic royal treasure buried in a tomb beneath Seoul. The film may be very action-packed and fast-paced, and sprinkles jokes all all through to maintain the temper gentle. For those who take pleasure in heist and “tomb raiding” subgenre films, it’s best to think about Collectors.

5. Metal Rain 2: Summit

Korean Title: 강철비2: 정상회담 | Director: Yang Woo-seok | Starring: Jung Woo-sung, Kwak Do-won, Yoo Yeon-seok | Style: Battle, Political, Motion

In 2017, we beneficial Korean political thriller Metal Rain on that 12 months’s checklist of finest Korean films. This 12 months for 2020, we’re recommending its sequel, Metal Rain 2: Summit.

Whereas Metal Rain 2 isn’t a direct sequel to the unique Metal Rain, its spirit of dramatizing inter-Korean politics in a blockbuster method stays constant. The movie takes main inspiration from US President Donald Trump’s peace makes an attempt with North Korea. Accordingly, it depicts how a South Korean President, North Korean supreme chief, and US President should reconcile their variations when a coup d’etat traps them aboard a North Korean nuclear submarine.

Political junkies and struggle film followers will love Metal Rain 2. It depicts army {hardware} that no different films have ever proven, and gives an enchanting lens into how South Korea—particularly these on its political left—perceived inter-Korean diplomacy throughout the Trump period.

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Study extra about how Metal Rain 2 trumpets South Korea’s left-wing political idealism in our full-length evaluation.

4. Pawn

Korean Title: 담보 | Director: Kang Dae-gyu | Starring: Sung Dong-il, Ha Ji-won, Kim Hee-won | Style: Drama

Those that take pleasure in tear-jerking human dramas ought to try Pawn, a 2020 Korean movie belonging to that subgenre. The film facilities on two debt collectors who take a younger woman as “collateral” from her unlawful immigrant mom, solely to kind a family-like bond as they stay collectively.

For those who assume this feels lots just like the hit 2013 Ok-movie Miracle in Cell No. 7, you aren’t alone—Pawn has many tonal similarities. Just like the daughter in Miracle, the woman in Pawn (due to an ideal efficiency by baby actress Park So-yi, who additionally stars in Ship Us from Evil talked about above) steals the present. It is a film that’ll make you snort and cry, and is beneficial watching in case you are along with household.

Study extra about Pawn in our full-length evaluate.

3. The Name

Korean Title: 콜 | Director: Lee Chung-hyun | Starring: Park Shin-hye, Jeon Jong-seo | Style: Thriller, Horror, Thriller

Moreover #Alive, Netflix snapped up one other 2020 Korean film starring Park Shin-hye: The Name. This darkish thriller turned one of the crucial extensively streamed Korean movies on Netflix throughout 2020, and obtained rave evaluations.

In The Name, Park Shin-hye performs a younger lady named Website positioning-yeon who will get linked by way of a mysterious phone with one other lady named Younger-sook. It seems Younger-sook belongs 20 years previously. Website positioning-yeon at first befriends Younger-sook, however quickly discovers that Younger-sook has a style for homicide which will have lethal, time-transcending penalties for the current day.

Properly-designed gothic visuals and a suspenseful storyline assist make The Name a extremely entertaining expertise. Particular reward additionally goes to Jeon Jong-seo, who performs the totally chiling Younger-sook in what is just her second characteristic movie position (after starring as Hae-mi in 2018’s Burning).

Study extra about The Name in our full-length evaluate. The Name can be streamable on Netflix worldwide.

2. Beasts Clawing at Straws

Korean Title: 지푸라기라도 잡고 싶은 짐승들 | Director: Kim Younger-hoon | Starring: Jung Woo-sung, Jeon Do-yeon, Bae Sung-woo, Youn Yuh-jung, Jeong Man-sik, Shin Hyun-been | Style: Crime, Thriller

Motion pictures by which characters chase after cash are a dime a dozen. Although Beasts Clawing at Straws makes use of this formulation, the movie executes it magnificently. On this movie, high Korean stars like Jung Woo-sung and Jeon Do-yeon star as an assortment of strangers who find yourself lusting after a Louis Vuitton bag full of cash. Regardless of the massive variety of characters, the film has a tightly woven plot that by no means will get too complicated or boring.

Beasts earned spots at quite a few worldwide movie festivals (ex. Rotterdam), and obtained acquired for releases in quite a few international locations like america. It’s straightforward to see why: the film has a mix of darkish humor, violence, and thriller that feels harking back to Quentin Tarantino’s movies, which means audiences worldwide can get simply hooked.

Learn extra about Beasts Clawing at Straws in our complete evaluate.

1. The Man Standing Subsequent

Korean Title: 남산의 부장들 | Director: Woo Min-ho | Starring: Lee Byung-hun, Lee Sung-min, Kwak Do-won, Lee Hee-joon | Style: Political, Historic, Drama

Our easiest Korean film of 2020 is The Man Standing Subsequent.

We at Cinema Escapist take pleasure in analyzing movies with political significance; The Man Standing Subsequent is probably the most politically vital film on this complete checklist. The movie dramatizes one in all fashionable South Korean historical past’s most well-known occasions: the 1979 assassination of authoritarian President Park Chung-hee.

In The Man Standing Subsequent, famous person actor Lee Byung-hun performs Kim Jae-gyu, the person who killed President Park; the movie depicts Kim as a Shakespearean tragic hero. By means of intricate artistry, the movie gives a re-examination of Kim’s legacy that provides a lens into Korean politics. At the moment, South Korea’s liberals see Kim positively, whereas conservatives don’t. We’ll allow you to watch the movie and make your personal conclusion as to what facet it leans extra in the direction of.

Whereas historical past buffs and political junkies will love the historiographical implications of The Man Standing Subsequent, normal Ok-movie followers will possible take pleasure in it for Lee Byung-hun’s appearing. Regardless, robust field workplace efficiency and significant reception possible motivated South Korea to pick The Man Standing Subsequent as its 2020 Finest Worldwide Characteristic Oscar submission.

Study extra about The Man Standing Subsequent and its historic context in our article.

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Need extra Korean media? Try our lists for the Finest Korean Motion pictures of 2019, Finest Korean Dramas of 2020, and extra.

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