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Learn Korean with Movies

Top Korean Films to watch for language learners

By Memrise Content Team
Are you riding the Hallyu wave, searching for the best Korean movies to watch? If "Parasite" or "Sweet & Sour" have left you craving more, you're in luck. The world of Korean cinema on Netflix, Tubi, and YouTube is rich and varied, offering a treasure trove of content that's perfect for language learners and movie buffs alike.

From spine-tingling thrillers to heart-fluttering romances, our selection has got the top Korean movies that are a must-watch. And if you're on the lookout for the best Korean movies to learn Korean, we've got those too. Think of these films as your fun, filmic tutors, teaching you real-world Korean while you're engrossed in a gripping storyline.

One of the best ways to learn Korean is by watching movies. But whether you're in it for the learning or just love good cinema, these Korean movies are top-rated for a reason. They're the cream of the crop of 2023, the ones that everybody's talking about. By the time you're done, you'll not only have a bunch of Korean movies under your belt but also a sharper ear for the language. So, let's get that "movie to help learn Korean" marathon started, and who knows? You might just find your new favorite film among these gems.

1. Decision to Leave (2022)

Genre: Romantic Mystery

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

Decision to Leave (2022)

Synopsis: "Decision to Leave" is a captivating blend of romance and mystery from the esteemed director Park Chan-wook. The film takes you on a journey with a detective who finds himself entangled in both the investigation of a man's death and the enigma of the man's widow, whom he suspects and also grows increasingly drawn to. Set against the backdrop of South Korea's mesmerizing landscapes, this film is a masterful dance between the pursuit of truth and the complexities of forbidden love.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The movie's rich, layered dialogue provides an immersive experience for Korean learners, particularly those looking to understand the subtle dance between formal investigation language and the intimate tones of a budding romance.
  • With its nuanced performances and intricate plot, "Decision to Leave" offers a deep dive into the expressive potential of the Korean language, perfect for those who want to experience how emotion and cultural context can shape communication.
Watch the "Decision to Leave" trailer and learn the words with Memrise

2. Seoul Vibe (2022)

Genre: Action, Comedy

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

Seoul Vibe (2022)

Synopsis: Dive into the vibrant streets of Seoul in the 1980s with "Seoul Vibe", an exhilarating ride filled with fast cars, snazzy fashion, and the pulsating beats of old-school Korean funk. Follow a crew of talented drivers as they find themselves entangled in a high-stakes heist during the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The film's dynamic dialogue is loaded with slang and expressions from the '80s, providing a fun retro linguistic twist for learners.
  • It offers a listening feast with various accents and dialects, showcasing the diversity of the Korean language in a way that is seldom found in language textbooks.

3. Night in Paradise (2020)

Genre: Noir, Drama

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

Night in Paradise (2020)

Synopsis: This brooding crime drama tells the story of a gangster on the brink who flees to Jeju Island after a tragic betrayal. There, he meets a woman with her own troubled past, and they form an unlikely bond amidst the backdrop of the island's haunting beauty.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The film's rich narrative provides learners with complex emotional dialogues, perfect for those looking to understand the subtleties of Korean expression.
  • The use of Jeju dialect in parts of the movie introduces learners to regional variations of the language, which are important aspects of linguistic competence.

4. Parasite (2019)

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

Parasite (2019)

Synopsis: Bong Joon-ho's Academy Award-winning masterpiece, "Parasite", is a social satire that tells the tale of two families at opposite ends of the economic spectrum whose lives become intertwined with unpredictable consequences.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The stark contrast in language use between the wealthy and working-class characters provides insights into formal and informal registers of Korean.
  • The film's critical acclaim and popularity mean that learners can find a multitude of additional resources and discussions in Korean, making it an excellent topic for extended learning.
Watch a short news report about "Parasite" and learn the words with Memrise

5. Memories of Murder (2003)

Genre: Crime, Drama

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

Memories of Murder (2003)

Synopsis: A gripping tale based on the true story of Korea's first serial murders, "Memories of Murder" chronicles the lives of two detectives as they struggle to solve a series of grisly crimes in a time before modern forensic science had taken root in the country.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The detectives' investigative dialogue offers a study in the language of Korean law enforcement and legal proceedings.
  • The film's setting in the 1980s rural Korea provides learners with a feel for historical speech patterns and terminology, distinct from modern colloquial Korean.

6. How to Steal a Dog (2014)

Genre: Family Drama, Comedy

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

How to Steal a Dog (2014)

Synopsis: "How to Steal a Dog" is a heartwarming and thought-provoking family drama that tells the story of Ji-so, a young girl who, in a desperate attempt to improve her life and that of her family, hatches a plan to steal a dog from a wealthy owner and claim the reward. This charming tale, while light-hearted in its approach, delves into deeper themes of poverty, empathy, and the innocence of childhood dreams.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The movie presents everyday conversational Korean in a family setting, making it great for learners who want to get accustomed to the language as used in daily life.
  • It provides a unique insight into the societal aspects of Korean culture, offering language learners a chance to understand and learn expressions and terms related to family dynamics, societal norms, and emotional expressions in Korean.

7. Tune in for Love (2019)

Genre: Romance, Drama

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

Tune in for Love (2019)

Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of the 1990s, "Tune in for Love" is a heartwarming story of love and serendipity, where a couple keeps crossing paths over the years, with the timing never quite right. It's a tale that resonates with the nostalgia of first loves and the what-ifs of life.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The movie's dialogue includes everyday language and the jargon of the era, providing a diverse linguistic experience for Korean learners.
  • Since the story spans over a decade, learners can observe the evolution of the characters' language use over time, adding depth to their understanding of how Korean can change with age and life stages.
Already watched one of these films? Practice talking about what you learnt with MemBot!

8. Time to Hunt (2020)

Genre: Action, Thriller

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

Time to Hunt (2020)

Synopsis: In a dystopian near-future, "Time to Hunt" sees a group of friends planning a heist to escape a hopeless city only to become the target of a relentless hunter. The film's suspense is palpable, offering a relentless chase that's as thrilling as it is visually arresting.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The specialized vocabulary related to the futuristic setting provides a contemporary twist to the Korean language, adding words and phrases that might not be found in everyday conversation.
  • The characters' interactions present a variety of speech levels within Korean, from the polite to the casual, giving learners exposure to a wide range of conversational styles.

9. Sweet & Sour (2021)

Genre: Romance, Comedy

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

Sweet & Sour (2021)

Synopsis: "Sweet & Sour" portrays the bitter and the sweet of a modern-day relationship as it follows a couple trying to navigate the complexities of love in the face of life's challenges, including long-distance and the pressures of the working world.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The film's dialogue is rich with colloquial Korean, perfect for learners interested in the language of everyday life and relationships.
  • As the characters deal with work and love, the language includes a blend of professional and personal Korean, useful for learners to understand context-based language use.

10. Okja (2017)

Genre: Action-Adventure

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

Okja (2017)

Synopsis: An endearing tale that follows Mija, a young Korean girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a massive animal named Okja.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • Offers a mix of simple rural dialogues and complex corporate language, providing a wide vocabulary range.
  • The emotional bond between characters conveys subtle language cues that are essential for Korean language learners.
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11. Little Forest (2018)

Genre: Drama

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

Little Forest (2018)

Synopsis: "Little Forest" is a serene and picturesque film that invites viewers into the tranquil world of Hye-won, a young woman who returns to her rural hometown during the four seasons, seeking respite from the harsh city life. As she cultivates her life through farming and cooking, she reconnects with her roots and finds the true essence of comfort and self-sufficiency.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The film's soothing narrative is interspersed with dialogues that showcase the Korean language in its most poetic and reflective form, perfect for learners looking to explore beyond the basics.
  • The seasonal changes and the accompanying cultural traditions presented in the movie provide a delightful context for learners to understand and appreciate the seasonal vocabulary and idiomatic expressions unique to Korean culture.

12. Carter (2022)

Genre: Action, Thriller

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

Carter (2022)

Synopsis: "Carter" is a high-octane action thriller that takes you on a wild ride from start to finish. The eponymous protagonist wakes up with no memory and gets thrust into a mission filled with explosive fights and a mysterious virus outbreak, all while piecing together his lost identity.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The film's fast-paced dialogue and action commands are great for learners to get acquainted with the imperative form and action-driven expressions in Korean.
  • As Carter interacts with various characters under high-stress situations, learners get to hear the Korean language in its most urgent and colloquial forms, which is beneficial for practical understanding and usage.

13. #Alive (2020)

Genre: Action, Horror

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

#Alive (2020)

Synopsis: "#Alive" is a gripping tale of survival set during a zombie apocalypse in Seoul. The story centers on a lone gamer's struggle to stay alive in his apartment as the city descends into chaos and carnage outside.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The protagonist's solo dialogues and his online interactions provide a contemporary look at Korean used in digital communication and personal reflections.
  • The survival context introduces specific vocabulary related to emergency situations, offering language learners a unique set of phrases that could be life-saving.

14. Love and Leashes (2019)

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

Love and Leashes (2019)

Synopsis: "Love and Leashes" is a modern romantic comedy that delves into the dynamics of a unique romantic relationship. The film follows two co-workers who embark on an unconventional journey of exploring their compatibility and understanding of one another, challenging the norms of traditional relationships with humor and heart.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The film's contemporary setting and dialogue offer a window into modern Korean language and slang, making it perfect for learners interested in current conversational Korean.
  • As the characters navigate their relationship, the language used provides insight into the cultural attitudes and expressions pertaining to modern love and companionship in Korean society.

15. Space Sweepers (2019)

Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure

Check for streaming: Netflix | Amazon | YouTube | Tubi

Space Sweepers (2019)

Synopsis: Set in the year 2092, "Space Sweepers" follows the crew of a space junk collector ship who discover a humanoid robot that's both a weapon of mass destruction and a valuable commodity in the galaxy. As they decide what to do with it, they embark on an adventure that could change their lives.

Why It's Good for Learning Korean:

  • The futuristic setting introduces learners to scientific and space-related Korean vocabulary, ideal for those interested in sci-fi genres.
  • The interplay between characters of different backgrounds provides a mix of formal and informal Korean, as well as showcasing the language's use in various emotional and high-stakes scenarios.

Looking for the best Korean movies to learn Korean? Here are a few tips to help:

Immersive Korean Learning Through Film
Watching the best Korean movies isn't just an entertainment spree — it's a full-on language immersion. When you watch top Korean movies, especially those with English subtitles, you're not just absorbing the story. You're soaking up language in its natural habitat. As you're captivated by the K-drama, your brain is busy making connections between words and their meanings in vivid, memorable contexts. Language is inherently context-hungry, and films feed this need beautifully, making Korean movies one of the best resources to learn Korean.

As you revisit films like "Decision to leave" or "Seoul Vibe", considered some of the best Korean movies of 2022, you'll discover new layers of language and culture with each viewing. This isn't your average watch party; it's an intentional strategy to help learn Korean by watching movies. So grab your remote, hit play, and let the learning begin — scene by scene, line by line.
Why Korean Movies Are Educational Entertainment
Merging the best of Korean cinema with language education, Korean movies and dramas offer an exciting and effective learning experience. Must-watch Korean movies do more than entertain; they're a dynamic classroom. With each film, from box office hits to critically acclaimed gems, you're gaining real-world conversational Korean that textbooks might miss.

These movies set in Korea, brimming with idiomatic expressions and cultural richness, turn every line of dialogue into a learning opportunity. And with Korean movies to watch to learn English available across multiple online platforms, the bridge between languages strengthens, enhancing your bilingual journey. Whether it's the high-stakes action of "Time to Hunt" or the compelling narrative of "Space Sweepers", these films are your ticket to fluency. So, why not make your next movie night a step towards mastering Korean? With these top Korean films, you're not just watching — you're learning.
Can I learn Korean by watching movies/TV shows?
Absolutely! Movies and TV shows are a fantastic supplementary resource for learning Korean. They provide context, culture, and the rhythm of the language in a way that textbooks can't match.
How much time should I spend watching Korean TV shows?
There's no one-size-fits-all answer, but integrating Korean shows into your regular language learning routine can be very effective. Start with a few episodes a week and adjust as you go.
Are subtitles helpful?
Yes, subtitles can be a great aid, especially for beginners. They can help you connect spoken and written language, though it's beneficial to wean off them as you become more advanced.

Your Next-Level Korean Learning Experience Awaits...

Thrilled by the rich tapestry of Korean cinema and itching to dive deeper? Memrise is here to bridge the gap between movie-watching and language mastery. Imagine a platform that doesn't just help you learn Korean but immerses you in it through the TV shows, films and music that you love. That's Memrise.
Take a look at the Korean video lessons we offer
Memrise transforms scenes from the latest YouTube hits and TikTok trends into personalized language lessons. It's a learning adventure that goes beyond subtitles, giving you the power to understand the nuances and cultural quirks of every line. Whether it's the latest K-drama or a classic movie, Memrise helps you experience films in Korean the way they were meant to be felt — with every emotion and expression at your fingertips.
Parasite & Democracy
Decision to leave
Past Lives - Trailer
#Alive | Official Trailer
Space Sweepers | Official Trailer
Love and Leashes | Official Trailer
Carter | Official Trailer
Sweet & Sour | Official Trailer
Memories of Murder | Official Trailer
Okja | Trailer
Little Forest | Official Trailer
Time to Hunt | Official Trailer
Tune in for Love | Official Trailer
How to Steal a Dog | Official Trailer
Decision to Leave | Trailer
Night in Paradise | Official Trailer
Seoul Vibe | Official Trailer
Parasite | Official Trailer
Practice speaking Korean with our AI conversations
But we're not just about watching and learning. With Memrise, you step into a conversation. Our AI-driven MemBot isn't just a tutor; it's your language practice buddy, offering natural, real-time chats. No scripts, no judgment — just pure, interactive learning that's as natural as talking with a friend. Mistakes? They're just part of the journey.
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Memrise gives you the language you need for the real world, not just the classroom. We equip you with words and phrases for a multitude of situations, from ordering at a café in Seoul to chatting with locals on your travels. With us, you're not just memorizing; you're using and living the language.
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