7 unsettling Korean horror movies to watch including underrated picks that are just as spine-chilling


With the international success of horror movies like The Medium and Incantation in the past couple of years, Asian horror movies are finally getting the recognition that they deserve. 

While there are an array of great horror films from all across the continent, South Korean horror movies always stood out to me in a way — most of them that I have watched often lingered in my mind for days. 

Other than the great cinematography, the cultural influences as well as strong social commentaries that many South Korean horror films tend to have make up some of the best horror movie titles that I, a self-proclaimed horror movie enthusiast and expert, have watched. 

To share some of these picks with those of you who are like-minded, here are 7 unsettling Korean horror movies to watch including some really underrated picks as well as highly-acclaimed classics

1. The Piper

The Piper tells the story of a desperate and poor piper who is trying to make his way to Seoul on foot with his sick son in tow in order to find a doctor and a cure for the latter’s ailment. 

korean horror movies
Photo: IMDb

Along the way, they stopped by an isolated village (which seemed to have frozen in time) to rest, and realised that the people there were being plagued by vicious, (human) flesh-eating rats. The piper offered to help eradicate the vermin in exchange for money to pay for his son’s treatment to which the village chief agreed. 

When the village chief fails to keep up with his end of the deal because of his own petty greed, things start to go south, setting off a maelstrom of gore and tragedy. 

If this premise or even title sounds familiar to you, it’s because the movie is a re-telling of the classic German tale, The Pied Piper of Hamelin. 

Personally, I also feel like it has a little bit of M.Night Shymalan’s The Village vibes with all the conspiracy and innocently ignorant villagers. 

If you’re into thrillers coupled with an adequate amount of gore as well as strong social commentary that urges you to think, then The Piper is definitely one to check out. 

2. The Wrath 

Set in the Joseon era, The Wrath is a remake of the 1986 classic Korean movie — Woman’s Wail

In this eerie tale, the aristocratic family of a high-ranking court official is being haunted by a vengeful spirit and her curse. One by one, the family’s sons face mysterious deaths on the night of all their weddings. 

korean horror movies
Photo: Soompi

After her new husband, the youngest and the only surviving son of the family faces the same fate on their wedding night, the widowed Ok Bun finds herself navigating life in the haunted mansion all alone and pregnant whilst uncovering many of its sinister secrets and mysteries. 

Perhaps an ode to the original film, the movie is packed with hair-raising shots and sound effects that’s almost reminiscent of an old school horror film without looking tacky — perfect for those who love anticipating some good ol’ jumpscares and spooky sequences. 

3. The Wailing 

If you’re a horror movie enthusiast, then you’ve probably heard of this one. With a whopping 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, The Wailing is a thought-provoking and all-encompassing horror film about a rural village being plagued by a violent virus (or is it a curse?) that causes its victims to carry out devastatingly brutal murders and a mysterious loner that lives in the nearby woods (whom some of the villagers suspect is responsible for the tragedies). 

korean horror movies
Photo: IMDb

This movie combines many, many horror subgenres like psychological thriller, demonic possessions, zombie vibes, supernatural spookiness and more — while it sounds a bit like an overkill, everything makes complete sense and every detail is planted and executed really well to tell this dark story. It also runs pretty long at 2 hours and 36 minutes, but trust that every minute will keep you on the edge of your seat. 

4. Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum 

In my opinion, found-footage type horror movies are absolutely genius. Oftentimes, they require a much lower budget for camerawork to produce (so more can go into other aspects!) and creates a much more relatable and frightening experience because it just feels so real — like whatever scary thing happening on screen can actually happen to any one of us too. 

korean horror movies
Photo: Bloody Disgusting

Inspired by the creepy lores surrounding the real abandoned Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital (which was rumoured to be one of the most haunted places in South Korea) that have been defunct since the ‘90s, Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is a found-footage film that tells the story of a group of ghost-hunting Youtubers who decide to livestream themselves exploring the obscure asylum — where they definitely found more than what they were looking for. 

5. The Mimic 

The premise of The Mimic is pretty simple — a distressed mother looking for her missing son comes across a lost little girl in the woods and decides to take her in, but soon, strange and erratic things start happening. Don’t be fooled though — this doesn’t mean that the movie isn’t filled with some seriously engaging sequences, spooky sensory effects and twists. 

korean horror movies
Photo: IMDb

If you enjoyed similar movies that kept you in suspense throughout like The Orphan and Case 39, then you’ll probably enjoy this creepy pick. 

6. Cinderella 

While it is named Cinderella, this horror film has nothing to do with glass slippers, singing animals and happy endings. 

The story follows a beautiful high school girl living with her wealthy plastic surgeon mother and her group of friends. As her friends undergo cosmetic procedures performed by her mother, they start to experience hallucinations (or hauntings) and start to mutilate themselves in different grotesque ways. 

korean horror movies
Photo: The Movie Beat

For those who really like unimaginable twists and can handle their gore, this would be a great horror movie to add to your watchlist. 

7. Loner

Are you familiar with the term Hikikomori? For those who aren’t, this is a Japanese term for people who experience extreme social withdrawal — meaning that they close themselves up in their homes or rooms for extended periods of time (we’re talking years!) and devoid themselves of all social interactions. 

Riding on this phenomenon, Loner is a horror film about a student that turns into a hikikomori after the loss of her best friend to suicide. She isolates herself in her room, where she believes someone else is residing with her. 

korean horror movies
Photo: IMDb

Just a heads up — the film leans more towards a psychological horror angle, and explores grim and heavy subjects like suicide and child abuse so do watch at your own discretion. 

Ready for a horror movie marathon with these 7 blood-curdling picks? Add them to your watchlist now! 

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