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10 South Korean disaster movies you need to watch

The thought of “What’s the worst that could happen?” is perhaps how most disaster movies came about.

Any good disaster movie will keep its viewers glued to their seats; there are always multiple storylines going on while featuring a large cast and a tremendous set, all the while following the conventional main heroes as they try to escape or inspire others to cope with the disasters.

Although it doesn’t happen too often in Hollywood disaster movies, some South Korean movies do see their heroes dying, making them tear-jerking.

If you are haven’t watch these, here are 10 South Korean disaster movies you need to watch:
1.Tidal Wave (2009)

Considered as South Korea’s first disaster film, this movie received more than 11 million admissions nationwide.

Although the film’s English name is ‘Tidal Wave’, the film is actually referring to a tsunami.

Just like most disasters movies inspired by real-life disasters, this one was inspired by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

2.Deranged (2012)

While Tidal Wave was South Korea’s first disaster movie, this one is the country’s first medical thriller on an infectious disease epidemic.

If you believe in conspiracy theories of greedy pharmaceutical companies behind the spread of some diseases or illnesses, this movie fits that theory. It is a fatal outbreak of mutant parasitic horsehair worms that can control the human brain.

3.Flu (2013)

Imagine a scarier and deadlier strain of H5N1 influenza virus that could kill its victims within 36 hours… and then throw in the human factor.

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Flu (2013) takes place in the district of Bundang in Seongnam where half a million people go into a panic after an outbreak of deadly flu.

What starts out like a detective story as it follows the spread of the flu, escalates into mass hysteria, so much so that the government is forced to put its military forces out against its own citizens.

Directed by King Sung-su, the movie stars Jang Hyuk and Soo Ae.

4.The Tower (2012)

Before Dwayne Johnson rescued his family from a Hong Kong condominium tower taken over by terrorists and set on fire in Skyscraper (2018), there was this movie called The Tower (2012).

In this film, a fire breaks out in a luxury skyscraper in central Seoul on Christmas Eve. Like most disaster movies, this is a story of bravery as the manager Dae-ho (Kim Sang-kyung) tries to save his loved ones and colleagues from the fire.

5.Pandora (2016)

Make sure you prepare your tissues for this movie because you are going to need it.

The story follows Jae-hyeok (Kim Nam-gil) who works in a local nuclear power plant. Suddenly, an earthquake strikes, causing an explosion at the plant.

While the whole nation is in a state of panic, Jae-hyeok and his colleagues return to the plant to prevent another nuclear disaster.

A screenshot of Pandora trailer from Youtube.
6.Tunnel (2016)

If you are claustrophobic, this might not be a good movie for you to watch. Starring one of Korea’s most talented actors – Ha Jung-woo – this film revolves around a car salesman who gets trapped in a poorly constructed tunnel that collapsed.

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After he regains consciousness, he finds himself trapped under tonnes of concrete.

Watch how he tries to survive with two bottles of water and his daughter’s birthday cake.

7.The Terror Live (2013)

Before Jung-woo starred in Tunnel, he acted in another disaster movie called The Terror Live (2013).

Here, he plays an ambitious news anchorman Young-hwa who monopolizes the live broadcast of a terrorist attack following the explosion of Mapo Bridge on the Han river.

Apparently, he is not the only one who wants to exploit the disaster for their own agenda.

8.Train to Busan (2016)

This is the kind of disaster that might be scary but interesting if it really happened. The plot takes place mostly on a train to Busan as a zombie apocalypse breaks out in the country.

The film set a record as the first Korean film of 2016 to break the audience record over 10 million viewers.

Besides the convincingly scary zombies, what makes the movie engrossing was the storyline of different characters.

From Gong Yoo’s acting as Seok-woo, a fund manager who is obsessed with his work to Kim Eui-sung as the selfish businessman, every character carries their own weight making the movie interesting to watch.

9.Exit (2019)

When disaster strikes, it is natural for humans to use every knowledge or skill they know in order to survive. In this movie, the main character Yong-nam (Jo Jung-suk) uses his rock climbing skills to save everyone from a mysterious white gas covering Seoul.

10.Sinkhole (working title, 2020)

Well, this movie is not out yet and is expected to be released in 2020. But the cast line-up already has people talking. The movie stars Cha Seung-won, Kim Sung-kyun and Running Man’s Lee Kwang-soo.

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Furthermore, the film will be directed by Kim Ji-hoon, the same director for The Tower. With one successful disaster movie in his belt, movie buffs can have high expectations for Sinkhole.

The film follows residents of a villa who are trapped after a sinkhole occurs.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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