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15 South Korean revenge films you need to watch

They said revenge is sweet but here at KajoMag, we say it is sweeter when filmmakers make a movie out of it.

Perhaps the reason why revenge films are popular, especially the ones with good storylines and convincing lead characters, is because they bring the audience on an emotional roller coaster ride.

First, it creates a bond between you and the main character. Then it brings you down with sadness and sorrow when something important is taken from the character. When the character decides to take revenge, then you feel the eagerness and determination. After the revenge finally takes place, you feel satisfied along with the main character.

But we cannot talk about revenge films without mentioning those that come from South Korea.

Over the years, the South Korean movie industry has been generous in giving us revenge films that are not only satisfying to watch but borderline gruesome as well.

Here are 10 South Korean revenge films you need to watch:
1.The Vengeance Trilogy

The trilogy is a series of three films that are not connected in stories but directed by the same director Park Chan-wook.

The first installment Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) is a tale of how revenge can go wrong.

It all starts when a deaf-mute man kidnaps a young girl to pay for his sister’s surgery. When the young girl accidentally dies, her father seeks vengeance.

Meanwhile in the second installment Oldboy (2003) revolves around a man who is imprisoned for 15 years. He is then released without any explanation as to why he was confined and released.

When he think he has the freedom, he is given five days to learn his captor’s true identity or his new love interest will be killed.

As for the third and final installment aptly named Lady Vengeance (2005), the film tells the tale of a young woman released from prison doing time for a child killer. She of course seeks revenge against the man for whom she served time.

The movie really tells how long a person can hold grudges and how far they will go to seek revenge.

2.I Saw the Devil (2010)

Rolling Stone magazine picked this movie for its top 20 of ‘scariest movies you’ve never seen.” So you can imagine how scary the revenge must have been or how the events led up to the revenge must have been.

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It follows Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun) who embarks on a journey of revenge after his fiancee was brutally murdered by a psychopathic murderer.

Oh, did I mention Soo-hyun is a secret service agent of the National Intelligence Service (NIS)?

Hence, it is a cat and mouse story except the role of the cat switches between the antagonist and protagonist.

Furthermore, the psychopathic murderer (played by veteran actor Choi Min-sik) is everything you imagine your perfect villain to be: sadistic and brutal.

3.Mother (2009)

How far would you go to protect your son? Hye-ja is a single mom to 27-year-old Do-joon who is extremely shy.

Do-joon is prone to attack anyone who mocks his intellectual disability. Walking home one night, he encounters a young girl and then decides to follow her.

The next morning, she is found dead and Do-joon is accused of her murder.

Like any protective mother, Hye-ja sets on a journey to seek the real killer in order to free her innocent son.

4.Pieta (2012)

Imagine a job of threatening debtors into paying his clients, loan sharks who demand 10 times the return. That is what Kang-do does for a living.

To recover the interest, the debtors sign an insurance application for a handicap. And then Kang-do comes in to injure the debtors brutally so that they file the claim.

This might be a feasible idea to make ends meet. But what is not that feasible is to seek revenge for a woman who just shows up claiming she is your long lost mother.

That is what happens to Kang-do when a strange middle-aged woman visits him.

Later when he finds his mother missing, Kang-do goes to every person he crippled to find his mother.

5.Bedevilled (2010)

Have you ever thought what would make the perfect murder weapon to carry out your vengeance? In this Korean revenge film, a sickle fits the bill.

The story starts with Hae-won who escapes from her busy life to take a break in Mudo, an island where she spent her childhood.

There, she meets her friend from teenage years, Bok-nam. Bak-nam suffers under her abusive husband and her attention goes all to her young daughter Yeon-hee.

When her daughter is accidentally killed, Bok-nam seek her revenge by starting a killing spree on the island with a sickle.

When a mother carries around a sickle to avenge her daughter’s death. Credits: IMDB
6.Hwayi: A Monster Boy (2013)

Hwayi: A Monster Boy (2013) revolves around a 16-year-old boy who is raised by five criminal fathers to become the perfect assassin.

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He follows his adoptive fathers in their criminal activity until he learns that the first man he killed was his real father.

That is when he starts his journey of vengeance against his criminal fathers who took him from his real parents.

7.Broken (2014)

“Life no longer exists for parents that lost their child,” is a famous quote from this movie. It centers around widower Lee Sang-hyeon (Jung Jae-young) who avenges the death of his daughter.

Frustrated with the pace of the investigation team, Sang-hyeon begins his own investigation. After he accidentally kills the first suspect, he finds out there is more than one culprit.

Then he sets to find those who are responsible for his daughter’s murder with the police hot on his trail.

8.No Mercy (2010)

This Korean revenge movie comes with a very shocking plot twist. It all starts with pathologist Kang Min-ho (Sol Kyung-gu) who is about to retire.

When a dismembered corpse of a young woman is found, Kang agrees to do one last job.

The main suspect for the murder is Lee Sung-ho (Ryoo Seung-bum). It seems like it is an easy case because Lee is all ready to confess for the murder. Or is there more to the story?

9.Soo (2007)

Two brothers, Tae-soo and Tae-jin separated when they were young. Tae-soo (Ji Jin-hee) becomes an assassin while Tae-jin becomes police detective.

When they finally reunite as adults, Tae-jin is suddenly killed. The killer really should know better than kill an assassin’s brother because Tae-soo then decides to get revenge.

10.The Five (2013)

What if you are physically incapable to take revenge on those who hurt you? Then you manipulate and threaten others to do it for you.

Go Eun-ah (Kim Sun-a) is a crippled woman who gathers four people to kill the serial killer who murdered her family.

In return, Eun-ah promises them her organs once her revenge is complete. However, things do not go as planned and the killer starts hunting them instead.

11.Don’t Cry Mommy (2012)

Don’t Cry Mommy is inspired by a real case of revenge which happened in South Korea. An 8-year-old Kim Bu-nam was raped by her 35-year-old neighbour Song Baek-gwon.

21 years later, following two divorces and months in a mental hospital, Bu-nam went back to her hometown where she stabbed Baek-gwon to death.

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Acknowledging that she went through enough, the court sentenced Bu-nam to a three-year suspended sentence and a requirement that she receive medical treatment.

However in this South Korean revenge movie, the victim Eun-ah (Nam Bo-ra) is not that lucky. She takes her own life after being brutally raped by her schoolmates. This leads her mother Yoo-lim (Yoo Sun) on a path of vengeance to kill those who are responsible for Eun-ah’s death.

12.Monster (2014)

First of all, Kim Go-eun acting as Bok-soon in this movie is impressive. Bok-soon is known to be an aggressive woman with a mental disability.

She lives happily with her younger sister Eun-jeong while running a stall in a local market. Everything changed when a serial killer Tae-soo (Lee Min-ki) kills Eun-jeong.

Thus, Bok-soon’s journey to avenge her sister’s death starts making you wonder who is the real monster in this movie.

13.Azooma (2013)

This Korean revenge movie had its world premiere at the 2012 Busan International Film Festival. It centers around a mother seeking justice for the rape of her 10-year-old daughter.

When her daughter is sexually assaulted, Yoon Young-nam (Jang Young-nam) is not happy with how the police handles the case.

So Young-nam decides to track down the child molester herself.

14.Princess Aurora (2005)

This is a story of a woman who sets out to kill everyone whom she believes played a role in her child’s death.

At first glance, it seems that there is a serial killer on the loose asthere seems to be no connection between all the victims excepts for small sticker depicting a character from the popular “Princess Aurora” cartoon series is found at every crime scene.

Eventually, the killer allows herself to get caught simply to carry out the final act of her revenge.

15.Revenger (2018)

To sum up most of these Korean revenge movies, do not molest, rape or kill anybody because their family members, especially parents, will definitely come and find you.

Unlike the other movies on this list, Revenger (2018) is set in the near future where dangerous criminals are housed in a hellish prison island.

Then comes a man who purposely sends himself to the island just to carry out his revenge.

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 Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.
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