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#KajoPicks: 10 South Korean fantasy movies you need to watch

A good fantasy movie is always fun to watch. Well, primarily because these movies challenge your imagination.

Here are 10 South Korean fantasy movies for you to watch:

1.Vanishing Time: A Boy who Returned (2016)

Vanishing Time: A Boy who Returned (2016) is a Korean fantasy movie inspired by true events.

Director Um Tae-hwa was inspired by the 2014 sinking of MV Sewol where 304 people died.

He believed that the government tried to hide the truth after the Sewol disaster.

The story follows 13-year-old Su-rin who moves to a remote island with her step-father after her mother passes away.

There, she befriends an orphan boy named Sung-min. One day, they decide to explore a cave together with a group of kids.

During their adventure, they discover a glittering egg. According to their local folktale, the egg could instantly turn a child into an adult.

Believing the myth, Su-rin tries to stop the boys from taking the egg. However, the boys take the egg anyway.

When she follows them out of the cave, she finds that the rest of the group have disappeared.

Hence, the police is immediately dispatched. They assume that this is an abduction case and begin their investigation.

Meanwhile, Su-rin tells the police about finding the egg but nobody believes her.

Suddenly, a mysterious man in his 30s shows up and tells Su-rin that he is Sung-min.

Starring Gang Dong-won as adult Sung-min and Shin Eun-soo as Soo-rin, the movie is Tae-hwa’s second long film. He is mainly known for his short films.

2.Jeon Woo-chi: The Taoist Wizard (2009)

Here is another Korean fantasy movie starring Gang Dong-won. Based on a Korean folktale, the film was the third best selling film of 2009 in Korea.

The story begins in the Chosun Dynasty in 1509 when there is a magician named Jeon Woo Chi (Gang Dong-won) and his dog-turned-man.

Eventually, Jeon Woo Chi is sealed inside an ancient scroll for a crime he did not commit. Fast forward to 2009, he is summoned from the scroll to bring peace in a modern day Korea wracked by goblins.

The problem is Jeon Woo Chi becomes more interested in sight-seeing and womanizing rather than save the day.

Also known as Woochi: The Demon Slayer, this Korean fantasy movie is written and directed by Choi Dong-hoon.

3.The Piper (2015)

After the Korean War, Woo-ryong (Ryoo Seung-ryong) and his son Young-Nam (Goo Seung-hyun) walk to Seoul.

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Woo-ryong wants to get Young-nam treated for tuberculosis. Along the way there, they find an obscured path on a mountainside road.

Woo-ryong decides to take the hidden path. The father and son pair soon come across a village. At first look, the village appears well-off and peaceful. The residents are led by a village leader (Lee Sung-min).

Subsequently, Woo-ryong learns the village is an idyllic place to live, except the area is infested with rats.

He offers to get rid of the rats and the village leader offers to pay him a hefty sum in return.

At the same time, Woo-ryong also falls for a young female shaman (Chun Woo-hee) in the village.

While everything appears to be going well, Woo-ryong’s nightmare is about to begin.

This fantasy movie is inspired by the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

The legend dates back to the Middle Ages, describing a piper who dressed in multicoloured (which is the meaning behind ‘pied’) clothing.

The piper was hired by the town to lure rats away. We warn you; The Piper (2015) is the darker and more twisted version of the legend.

4.Will You Be There? (2016)

Soo-hyeon (Kim Yun-seok) is a successful physician who, during a humanitarian aid operation, saves the grandchild of an elder in Cambodia.

In return, he receives a few pills, which he tries when he is back in Korea.

As it turns out, these pills take him exactly 30 years back in time.

Knowing that he doesn’t have much time left due to a serious illness, he wants to meet his girlfriend Yeon-ah (Chae Seo-jin) who died in an accident (coincidentally) 30 years ago.

When he meets his younger self (Byun Yo-han), he realises that he can change the past.

As time runs out for him, can Soo-hyeon change his future by toying with the past?

Will You Be There? (2016) is based on the French novel, Seras-tu-la?, by Guillaume Musso.

5.The Phone (2015)

Here is another Korean fantasy movie about people wanting to rescue their dead loved ones.

A magnetic field anomaly allows a man to phone into the past to talk to his wife before she is murdered.

To save her, he has to identify the killer and warn her before the anomaly vanishes.

Through the phone call, the man enters a thrilling battle against time to rescue his wife.

This action thriller fantasy film is directed by Kim Bong-ju in his directorial debut.

It stars Son Hyun-joo, Uhm Ji-won and Bae Seong-woo.

6.The Restless (2016)

The Koreans believe that when a person dies, their soul spends 49 days in Jungcheon before their eternal fate is decided.

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From there, they either go to heaven, hell or rebirth. And that is where accomplished demon hunter Yi Kwak finds himself as he lies on the edge of death.

Following his fiancee Yon-hwa’s tragic death, Yi enlisted with the royal squad of elite demon exterminators.

He enters Jungcheon where he finds Yon-hwa again. Unfortunately, she does not recognise him as she is a spirit of the afterlife now.

Moreover, she is deeply entangled in a great war between the white-clad warriors of reincarnation and a swarm of dark spirits determined to invade the living world.

The battle is desperately close to a terrifying ending, so Yi must draw his sword to defend the woman he loves.

To make matter worse, his deceased former mentor Banchu is the mastermind behind the demonic rebellion of dark spirits in Jungcheon.

Directed by Jo Dong-ho, The Restless (2006) stars Kim Tae-hee and Jung Woo-sung.

7.Psychokinesis (2018)

This movie is the first Korean superhero film. It is also director Yeon Sang-ho’s second live-action film after his live-action debut Train to Busan (2016).

It revolves around a bank security guard who gains telekinetic superpowers after drinking water from a mountain spring affected by a meteor.

Shin Seok-heon (Ryu Seung-ryong) then decides to use them for saving his estranged daughter and her neighbourhood from an evil construction company.

Many critics praised this movie saying it is one of the finest superhero movies of the decade.

Thrillist writer Karen Han stated, “The only pity is that Psychokinesis isn’t receiving a theatrical release outside of South Korea. Despite being about an ultimately mundane conflict, it’s filmed with the same energy and grand sense of scales as any recent blockbuster. Maybe it’s a little silly, but all superhero films are. Yeon is just the rare breed of director who knows how to turn that kind of genre stamp to his advantage.”

8.A Werewolf Boy (2012)

A mother moves with her daughters Sun-yi (Park Bo-young) and Sun-ja (Kim Hyang-gi) to a large home in the countryside.

They moved there under the advisement of her doctor as Sun-yi suffers from a lung ailment.

The home is provided by Ji-Tae (Yoo Yeon-Seok), the son of a business partner who worked with their deceased father.

While the family gets acclimated to their new surroundings, Sun-yi finds that a wild boy (Song Joong-ki) lives within a locked room in the barn.

At first, the family takes him in believing he is just an orphan with little social skills. Not everything in life appears like it seems, so is the boy hiding a secret?

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The movie had its world premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema Section of the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.

Besides that, it was screened at the 17th Busan International Film Festival that year.

This movie is one of the most successful Korean melodrama movies of all time.

A Werewolf Boy is definitely one of the must-watch Korean fantasy movies of all-time. Credits: Youtube

9.Heaven’s Postman (2009)

If you could write a letter to your loved one in heaven, what would you say?

Kim Jae-joong plays as Shin Jae-joon who used to be a promising young CEO of an IT company.

One day, he unexpectedly becomes a postman. His work? To deliver the letters grieving people have written to their loved ones in Heaven.

Eventually, Jae-joon comes across Hana, who writes a letter full of resentment to the dead man that she used to love.

So he proposes that Hana delivers responses which come back from Heaven. Then they both think up various ways to give peace and happiness to those who are alive and left behind, sometimes by writing the responses themselves.

It is a story of love and acceptance as well as finding closure in the sorrowful experiences of life.

10.Along with the Gods series

Along with the Gods movies series are definitely on our list of must-watch Korean fantasy movies.

This action film is directed by Kim Yong-hwa and based on a webtoon by Joo Ho-min.

It stars Ha Jung-woo, Cha Tae-hyun, Ju Ji-hoon and Kim Hyang-gi. The film was shot as one but presented in two parts.

The first part, Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds, was released on Dec 20, 2017.

In the meantime, the sequel,titled Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days, was released on Aug 1, 2018.

The third and fourth installment is currently in development with Kim Yong-hwa returning to direct the sequels.

As for the plot, the first movie follows a firefighter navigates the afterlife with the help of three grim reapers.

Meanwhile, the second film circles around the three grim reapers guiding their 49th soul. After guiding their 49th soul, only then they could gain reincarnation.

Overall, the storytelling, CGI, and especially the acting for both movies are all terrific. The second film broke the opening day record in South Korea with more than 1.2 million viewers on the first day of its release.

The third and fourth of Along with The Gods are another two must-watch Korean fantasy movies. Credits: Youtube.

Do you have any favourite Korean fantasy movies? Let us know in the comment box.

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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