A boy hangs out the window of an apartment complex filming zombies with a selfie stick in "#Alive"
(Netflix)

The Best Korean Horror (and Otherwise Chilling) Movies On Netflix

Korean Horror x Netflix: A winning combination. 10 out of 10. Sounds like my day, night, and perhaps even week are all filled up. Tell my secretary to clear my schedule. If I had a secretary, that’s exactly what I’d expect them to do so I could make time for these six stellar movies.

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Some of these films might veer outside of the strict parameters of the horror genre but I promise they’re all terrifying in their own ways.

Oldboy

A man brandishes a hammer menacingly in "Oldboy"
(Show East)

Old Boy might not seem like a horror movie on the surface, but oh how wrong you are. The horror of this film doesn’t come from blood or guts or jumpscares. It comes from the font of all nightmares: human evil. Specifically, the lengths that one human being will go to make another suffer. It’s riveting. Depressing. Most of all, depraved.

Old Boy is about a drunken Korean salaryman who is kidnapped while half in the bag on his way home from work. He is taken to a small room and locked inside … for over a decade. How does he spend his time? Crying. Learning English by watching TV. Punching the walls (and getting really good at it). One day, completely out of the blue, he is knocked unconscious and released back out into the world. His only clue about the people who did this to him is the address of the restaurant where his in-prison meals came from. Now he’s on a revenge quest to figure out who did this to him and why. Some secrets are better left unsolved, but this poor man is about to find that fact out the hardest way.

The Wailing

A man cradles his ill daughter in 'The Wailing'
(20th Century Fox)

The Wailing is about a rural Korean town that gets infected by a rare disease that has only one symptom: animal madness. When infected, a person becomes homicidal. Generally, this spells disaster for said person’s loved ones and neighbors alike.

After a string of murders, a small-town cop decides to investigate the cause of the crime. Accompanied by a nameless woman who showed up in town out of the blue, he has to get to the bottom of things. Some people in town believe that the disease has been caused by a Japanese foreigner who recently moved to the outskirts of the village. But that’s just prejudice … right? Paranoia and panic blur the lines between fact and fiction, leading to an explosively violent and ultimately hopeless conclusion. Not a feel-good movie, to say the least.

#Alive

A boy hangs out the window of an apartment complex filming zombies with a selfie stick in "#Alive"
(Netflix)

It’s the zombie apocalypse, what’s a boy to do? The protagonist of #Alive was a loner before the world went sour, living a solitary life as a video game streamer in an apartment complex. After his city is overrun with the living dead, he has no one of the living living category to turn to. So what does he do? Like anyone under the age of 40 these days, he turns to the internet! Somehow, the internet is still working. After all, the world hasn’t been totally zombified yet, just parts of South Korea.

In order to keep his spirits up and light digital signal fires for help, he begins livestreaming the apocalypse with his phone and a selfie stick. Honestly, it’s a bit of a blessing in disguise and his streaming numbers have never been better. Let’s just hope he survives long enough to capitalize on his newfound online fame.

The 8th Night

A man gives a Kubrick stare in "The Eighth Night"
(Netflix)

You wouldn’t believe the sort of horrors that people had to deal with two thousand years ago. Aside from the lack of internet, medical facilities, grocery stores, Netflix, and basically all the other comforts of modern life, according to this movie, people also had to deal with evil spirit monsters running around!

The 8th Night is about two such spirit monsters that were sealed away by Buddhist monks many centuries ago inside ceremonial caskets and chucked into the desert. A perfect solution! That is, until a modern-day college professor decides to track the caskets down. He ends up being successful at finding the monster boxes and releases the beasties within upon the modern world. In order to fully manifest on this physical plain, the monsters need to consume seven human hearts over the course of seven nights. Who can stop the monster? A young exorcist and a hard-boiled homicide detective seem like the perfect pair to take a crack at it.

The Call

A woman sits and stares at a cordless phone on the floor in "The Call"
(Netflix)

If you wanna be a stickler, the The Call is more of a thriller than a horror flick. But this list is the best Korean horror films on Netflix, of which there are, unfortunately, not that many. And this movie is good enough to jump genres. Besides, you don’t think it would be pretty horrifying to receive a phone call from a person in the past? Think of the implications that means for… I don’t know… science!?

The Call is a remake of a British and Puerto Rican film about a woman who moves to her childhood home to take care of her ailing mother. While she’s there, she finds a cordless phone and receives a phone call from a woman who claims to be living in the same house. WTF. As they start to talk more, the pair learn that they in fact DO live in the same house… 20 years apart from one another. They begin to bond over the phone until Miss Present Day discovers that Miss Past was involved in a grisly murder that remains unsolved. Desperate to change fate, the pair attempt to do just that, with disastrous consequences.

Silenced

A man, a woman, and three children pictured in promo for the film "Silenced"
(CJ Entertainment)

While Silenced is technically a crime drama, it is easily the most horrifying film on this list. The film is about a sexual abuse scandal occurring at a school for deaf and mute children. The plot follows a newly hired art teacher who begins to see signs of abuse among the student body, and after multiple interactions with the children discovers that they are the victims of sexual abuse by members of the faculty. He is initially reluctant to risk his career, but decides to pursue the greater good and team up with a human rights activist to take the abusers down.

The worst part of it all? The events depicted in the film are true, and inspired by the real-life crimes that occurred in South Korea’s Gwangju Inhwa school for the deaf. The film created such a cultural tidal wave that the National Assembly of South Korea passed a bill that abolished the country’s statute of limitations for sex crimes against minors and disabled people.

(featured image: Netflix)


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Author
Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.