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Five Korean Films on Streaming

scene from the movie Burning

Jul 05, 2022

Five Korean Films on Streaming

As you’re probably already aware, we offer the streaming services Hoopla and Kanopy for movies, TV shows, documentaries, etc. Here are five Korean films that are available for streaming as of this writing (please note that most of these films contain mature subject matter and are intended for a mature audience only):

Burning is a 2018 psychological thriller film with a wonderfully ambiguous narrative. Aspiring author Jong-su runs into one of his childhood friends, Hae-mi. A relationship forms between them as they begin spending more time together. Early on in the relationship, Hae-mi announces that she is travelling to Africa for two months and asks that Jong-su take care of her cat while she’s away. Jong-su meets her at the airport upon her return where she introduces him to Ben, a travel colleague she met while at the airport in Nairobi. The three of them start spending time together in various configurations and scenarios. However, during this time, suspicions, tensions and emotions rise, which culminates with Hae-Mi’s mysterious disappearance.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is the first in Park Chan-Wook’s famous Vengeance Trilogy, which also includes Old Boy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance follows Ryu, a deaf-mute who recently lost his job, as he struggles to find ways to make money for his sick sister who needs a kidney transplant. Ryu and his girlfriend come up with what they think is an elaborate kidnapping scheme but it ends up going in directions no one could have predicted. The series of events that unfold show why the Vengeance Trilogy rightfully earns its name.

The Wailing is a brooding horror set around the village of Gokseong. A series of mysterious murders are happening around the village and the villagers’ suspicions start to point to the recently arrived Japanese foreigner. Jong-goo, a police man investigating the murders, starts to get more directly involved once matters become personal and family-related. While a bit prolonged in length at 156 minutes, you never get bored as the film is gripping throughout and full of atmosphere.

Treeless Mountain is a touching coming-of-age story. Six-year old Jin and her three-year old sister Bin are put in the care of their often-drinking aunt when their mother sets off to find her estranged husband. Jin finds herself having to take on many responsibilities while she observes the world of adults through the eyes of a child. Both sisters depend on each other waiting for their mother’s return. The two young leads offer very convincing and natural performances.

The Handmaiden is Park Chan-wook's adaptation of The Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. This meticulously crafted film is beautifully shot. A conman calling himself Count Fujiwara and a pickpocket named Sok-hee devise a plot to bilk a Japanese woman out of her inheritance. Sok-hee is tasked with being the woman’s handmaiden but affairs quickly become more complicated as the plan sheds many of its intricate layers. Dealing with themes of femininity, lesbian romance, independence, freedom and power, The Handmaiden is a piercing erotic thriller.

If you're looking for Korean films on DVD, be sure to also check out the Oscar winning Parasite and definitely Bong Joon-ho’s excellent Mother. Also check out the list below for 10 streaming Korean films, 5 of which are on this list and 5 additional titles.

If you’re interested in more Korean films, the National Korean Film Archive offers 110 Korean films on its Youtube channel.

Streamable Korean Films at OPL (2022 Edition/Mostly the Same Edition)
by OPL_Film

A selection of Korean films available through our online resources Kanopy and Hoopla. Note that many of these films contain mature subject matter.

  • Burning

    Aspiring author Jong-su reunites and starts a relationship with childhood friend, Hae-mi. He watches over her cat while she travels to Africa for two months. Upon her return, she introduces Jong-su to Ben, a travel colleague she met while in Africa. Things take ambiguous turns once they all start getting to know each other and eventually Hae-mi mysteriously disappears. This beautifully shot psychological thriller is well worth a watch.
  • Sympathy for mr. vengeance
    This very stylish thriller is the first entry in the Vengeance Trilogy. Ryu is a deaf-mute man who recently lost his job and is scrambling to find money in order to pay for his sick sister's kidney transplant. His plan unfolds in a unexpected and violent way once things go awry. Directed by Park Chan-Wook. Intended for mature audiences.
  • The Handmaiden

    Park Chan-wook's meticulously crafted erotic thriller shows a conman and a pickpocket as they devise a plot to scam a woman out of her inheritance. The pickpocket plays herself off as a handmaiden for the woman which eventually entails a series of revelations and twists in this exploration of individuality, femininity and power.
  • The wailing
    A dark and disturbing horror film about a small Korean village's response to recent, mysterious murders, which may or may not have something to do with the arrival of a foreigner.
  • I saw the devil
    Kim Soohyeon, a secret agent, seeks out his wife's murderer. When discovering the murderer's identity, he dedicates himself to planning out the most horrible revenge on the murderer by turning it into a game of cat and mouse.
  • Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?

    A story about three monks attempting to find enlightenment in the mountains of South Korea. One very young, another a young man recently leaving the city and the last an elderly man preparing for his death and attempting to impart as much knowledge as he can onto the other two.
  • A hard day

    A hard day

    Kkeutkkaji ganda

    An action-thriller with elements of dark humour. Detective Lee Sungyun accidentally runs over a man with his car while returning from his mother's funeral and in a moment of desperation, hatches a plan to hide the body inside his mother's coffin. Work colleagues are assigned to investigate the death and Sungyun does his best to hide culpability. Meanwhile, a rival detective steps forward as a witness and complicates matters for Sungyun, resulting in a contentious rivalry
  • Treeless mountain
    Jin is tasked with taking care of her younger sister Bin after they are sent to live with their aunt by their mother, who has gone off to rekindle a relationship with her estranged husband. This is a touching coming-of-age story with brilliant performances from the two young leads.
  • The villainess
    A kinetic action film about Sook-hee, an assassin trained from childhood who seeks revenge in order to escape and free herself from her past.
  • The man from nowhere
    Secret agent Tae-shik's comes into contact with Somi, a child who's mother is running drugs for gangsters. The gang soon realizes who Taeshik is and they kidnap the girl and her mother, attempting to force Taeshik into the trade. Taeshik embarks on a mission to save Somi.