K-MOVIE 10 Must-Watch Korean Action and Thriller Movies on Netflix

10 Must-Watch Korean Action and Thriller Movies on Netflix


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Some of the most iconic Korean movies in the 2000s were actions and thrillers, building up hype around what is now one of the most well-known national film industries in the world. Park Chan-wook has been one of the most representative directors of this period of Korean cinema, putting out hits like Oldboy, and earning Korean films a wider form of representation outside his native country. Korean cinema has come a long way since then, but because of these kinds of movies and directors doing the heavy work, we were able to see movies like Parasite get the recognition they deserve in the long run.



That said, this has allowed an increasing number of Korean television and movies to appear on streaming platforms in the western world, making Korean cinema more accessible in ways unlike ever before. Streaming definitely has its perks, and watching the beloved action and thriller movies from the peninsula in one’s living room has been a hit all over the world. Here are 10 Korean action and thriller movies that, if you haven’t seen already, you should probably get a move on your next Friday Netflix night.

10 Burning (2018)


Release Date
May 17, 2018

Chang-dong Lee


Lee Chang-dong’s 2018 movie Burning made Korean movie history when it first landed on the Oscar shortlist, becoming the first movie from the country to do so. Starring Jeon Jong-seo, Yoo Ah-in, and Steven Yeun, this movie is the epitome of a slow burn. Yoo portrays a writer, Jong-su, who unintentionally gets caught in a love triangle, but when one of them goes missing, he has to act on his instincts.

Why It’s Great

Burning is one of those movies that haunts its viewers. It doesn’t spoon-feed the mystery elements within, and it certainly takes its time when it comes to getting to the thriller aspects of the film. That said, this certainly is a gorgeous movie when it comes to cinematography, making it the perfect visual spectacle to bask in as we watch the mystery slowly unravel.

9 Ballerina (2023)

Jeon Jong-Seo in Ballerina

Jeon Jong-seo stars in Ballerina, a 2023 release that serves as quite a throwback to the Korean movies of the early-2000s. When her character, Ok-ju, discovers her best friend dead in a bathtub, the note left behind telling her that a certain man led to this, she decides to get bloody revenge. As she finally tracks the man who did it down, Ok-ju isn’t going to spare him any mercy.

Why It’s Great

Ballerina might have a straightforward plot with no frills attached, but it certainly delivers when it comes to the action elements. Jeon proves here why she has been considered such a budding talent in the industry, turning in a captivating performance.

8 Kill Boksoon (2023)

Kill Boksoon
See At Film

Kill Boksoon stars Jeon Do-yeon as Bok-soon, an assassin who’s struggling with taking care of her teenage daughter on top of killing people for a living. When she defies her superior’s orders one day, it puts her in the crosshairs, leading her into situations where she has to question whom she can trust and why that’s the case.

Why It’s Great

Kill Boksoon is stuffed full of dark humor, making it the ideal watch for one who likes a bleaker shade of comedy. Not only does the film present its woman protagonist struggling with motherhood, but it also shows how she isn’t a passive victim of her circumstances and is willing to fight back when needed.

7 Veteran (2015)

Two men face off in public setting
CJ Entertainment

In Veteran, which came out in 2015, a police detective, Seo Do-cheol, is in the middle of an investigation when he realizes a chaebol heir, Jo Tae-oh, might be involved with the case. As Do-cheol digs deeper into the truth of what may have actually happened here, Tae-oh uses his connections to try and foil any leads the police might gain on him.

Why It’s Great

When it first came out, Veteran was one of the most successful Korean movies ever released in the country. It merges the genres of detective films with thrills and comedy, creating a perfectly entertaining venture that feaures solid action scenes throughout.

Related: Destined With You: Why This New Korean-Drama Is Trending on Netflix

6 Man From Nowhere (2010)

The Man from Nowhere
CJ Entertainment

Released in 2010, Man From Nowhere was directed by Lee Jeong-beom. A pawnshop owner, Tae-sik, befriends a little girl in the neighborhood. When the girl’s mother steals opium for her work, a drug lord comes knocking, taking the little girl in the process. Feeling obligated to get her back, Tae-sik embarks on an epic journey he might not return alive out of.

Why It’s Great

The Man From Nowhere has many trademarks when it comes to the stereotypical Korean action movie: it’s violent, excessive at times, and it has an element where its protagonist (typically male) goes off to rescue someone. It does all of these elements very well, and, more importantly, doesn’t feel like it drags at all throughout its runtime because of it.

5 Believer (2018)

Believer Netflix
Yong Film

2018’s Believer is a remake of a Chinese movie, but with more typical Korean cinematic twists. The sequel to the movie, too, was released on Netflix five years later. In this version, the cops are trying to bring down some of the biggest cartels in Asia, but the protagonist, Won-ho, finds himself in a situation where he teams up with a former gang member looking for revenge.

Why It’s Great

Sometimes, action movies neglect the story in favor of something that offers more physical than emotional punches, but Believer actually has a strong story to back up the action. To add to that, the action scenes are intricately crafted, making it a balanced movie to watch overall.

4 Psychokinesis (2018)

Still from Psychokinesis
Next Entertainment

A movie by the director of Train to Busan, Yeon Sang-ho, Psychokinesis was released in Korean theaters in 2018. Its protagonist, Seok-heon, is a security guard who finds himself with telekinetic powers after he drinks water touched by a meteor that has fallen on Earth. After he crosses paths with a disgraced chicken restaurant owner, he decides to use his powers for good and save the neighborhood from gentrification.

Why It’s Great

Most would expect superheroes to wear capes, but not Seok-heon. By subverting the expectations of the viewers when it comes to what the movie exactly is about, Psychokinesis becomes highly enjoyable throughout, making it the kind of movie that would suit everyone who loves action films, superhero stories, and thrillers.

Related: 23 Best Korean Dramas and Movies on Hulu to Watch Right Now

3 Pandora (2016)

CAC Entertainment

Kim Nam-gil stars in the movie Pandora, which came out in 2016. He portrays Jae-hyeok, who works at a nuclear power plant because he doesn’t really have a choice — it’s the largest employer in his town — despite losing family members to the radiation. When an earthquake hits, the nuclear reactors melt, leading to catastrophic conditions where decisions have to be made immediately.

Why It’s Great

Pandora is a movie about sacrifice and the decisions we have to make in the face of tragedy, as well as socioeconomic disadvantages. Like many others, Jae-hyeok didn’t have a choice of where he worked, nor did the townspeople when it came to where they lived. When natural disaster strikes, they are the ones who ultimately lose in the end.

2 Forgotten (2017)

B.A. Entertainment

Kang Ha-neul and Kim Mu-yeol lead 2017’s Forgotten, which begins with a young man, Jin-seok, moving to a new house. When he sees his brother kidnapped and returned without a memory of the incident, he thinks he’s finally gone mad, but comes to the realization these people aren’t his family members. Later comes the revelation that it’s not the year he originally thought it was, making the situation even weirder.

Why It’s Great

A mystery is at the core of this action thriller, and it’s unravels tastefully throughout. Uneasiness is an emotion threaded in the film, sucking the audience into the world of the movie and keeping them there until the final moments and credits roll on-screen. With excellent acting as well, this is a must-watch for those who love thrilling Korean cinema.

1 Unlocked (2023)

Studio N

Unlocked is Kim Tae-joon’s directorial debut, and it came out on Netflix in 2023. Its cast consists of Chun Woo-hee, Yim Si-wan, and Kim Hee-won, which is quite the all-star cast. A marketer lives an ordinary life, working hard at her job and at her father’s café. But when she loses her phone one day, a man picks up the phone when she uses her friend’s to call it, and he tricks her by installing spyware to keep an eye on her.

Why It’s Great

For those paranoid about what your smartphone might be listening to, Unlocked will certainly increase that. With unsettling twists scattered throughout, it will have you wondering about who’s listening as you go about your daily business and what they might do with that information. That it is capable of getting under your skin makes it the ultimate thriller on this list.


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