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KajoPicks: 10 South Korean mystery movies you need to watch

If you need a dose of whodunit or what-on-earth-is-going-on type of entertainment, here are 10 South Korean mystery movies to watch:

1.Helpless (2012)

Imagine David Fincher’s Gone Girl (2014) but with an even darker approach.

Based on the bestselling novel All She Was Worth by Japanese writer Miyabe Miyuki, this South Korean mystery/psychological thriller is written and directed by Byun Young-joo.

One month before their wedding, Moon-ho (Lee Sun-kyun) and Sun-young (Kim Min-hee) decides to take a road trip to Andong.

Moon-ho plans to formally introduce his fiancee to his parents.

On their way to Andong, they pull over at a highway rest stop.

While Moon-ho goes inside the rest stop to get coffee, Sun-young stays in the car.

But when Moon-ho returns, he is shocked to discover that his fiancée is missing.

After looking all over the rest stop, Moon-ho file a police report. One thing after one another, Moon-ho begins to realise that his fiancée is not the person he thinks she is.

For starters, her name is not even Sun-young.

Helpless (2012) was the twelfth most-watched Korean film in 2012.

2.Moss (2010)

A remote village with villagers acting all suspicious always makes a good background story for a mystery movie.

Ryu Hae-kook (Park Hae-il) arrives at a village to attend his father’s funeral.

After the funeral, Hae-kook decides to stay to investigate as he suspects his father is a murder victim.

From there, Hae-kook finds himself entangled in murder attempt, arson, real estate fraud and corruption.

Can he discover the truth behind his father’s death?

This Korean mystery movie is based on the popular webtoon of the same title by Yoon Tae-ho.

3.The Wailing (2016)

Speaking of remote villages, here is a Korean horror film centering around mysterious killings and illnesses.

In the small village of Goksung, police officer Jong-goo (Kwak Do-won) investigates a series of bizarre murders allegedly caused by a mysterious disease.

Rumour has it that a Japanese stranger, who lives in a secluded house in the mountains, is responsible for the illness.

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Additionally, the stranger is reportedly to be a spirit.

Jong-goo decides to visit the stranger along with his partner and a young priest who speaks Japanese.

There, they find an altar with a goat head, pictures on the walls of the infected people that died.

Among the items, Jong-goo finds his daughter Hyo-jin’s shoe. Soon after that, she becomes sick.

Is the stranger really responsible for the illness falls upon Gokseong?

The film was both a commercial and critical success.

4.The Silenced (2015)

Set in Gyeongseong in 1938 during the Japanese occupation, the film centers on Ju-ran/Shizuko (Park Bo-young).

She is a sickly young girl who gets transferred to a sanatorium to recover her health.

Her physical condition improves thanks to her new friend Yeon-deok (Park So-dam) and the headmistress (Uhm Ji-won)’s special treatment program.

However, she soon notices that students are disappearing one by one.

Adding on the weird thing around her, her own body is undergoing abnormal changes.

Determined to uncover the truth, Ju-ran starts to investigate the mysterious happenings around her.

Where do her schoolmates go? Who is behind it? Additonally, what is happening to her body?

5.M (2007)

After the success of his first novel, the pressure is high on young author Min-woo (Kang Dong-won) to write another best-selling book.

He is struggle with writer’s block, nightmares and hallucinations. Hence, all of these end up affecting his career and personal life.

Slowly, Min-woo finds himself unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality.

In the meantime, a charming young woman named Mimi (Lee Yeon-hee) shows up. He seems to have a history with her, but what?

The movie had its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and Pusan International Film Festival.

6.White Night (2009)

When a pawnbroker is found dead in a remote town in a derelict building, the police are divided on whether it was a murder or a suicide.

Detective Han Dong-su (Han Suk-kyu) investigates the case and it leads him to a homicide case that took place 14 years ago.

The prime suspect of that case, is a woman who suspected to be the dead man’s lover. Soon afterwards, the woman is also found dead leaving behind her daughter Lee Ji-ah (Son Ye-jin).

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After the death of her mother, Lee Ji-ah changes her name to Yoo Mi-ho.

Now, fourteen years later, Mi-ho is set to marry a rich CEO. Is there any connection between Mi-ho and these deaths?

White Night (2009) is based on the Japanese novel Journey Under the Midnight Sun by Keigo Higashino, who is mainly known for his mystery novels.

7.Forgotten (2017)

Jin-seok (Kang Ha-neul) moves into a new home with his older brother Yoo-seok (Kim Moo-yul), mother (Na Young-hee) and father (Moon Sung-geun).

One rainy evening, Jin-seok sees Yoo-seok being thrown into a van by a group of men.

After 19 days, Yoo-seok returns home but he doesn’t remember anything from his disappearance.

Jin-seok though notices enough changes in his older brother’s personality and behavior that he begins to suspect that the person who has returned is not Yoo-seok.

What if the one who lost his memories is Jin-seok and not Yoo-seok? And that even his memory fools him of what happened.

The director Jang Hang-jun said he is inspired from a story told to him by a friend whose cousin left home for about a month and returned with a drastic changes in personality.

8.Perfect Number (2012)

Here is another Korean film based on the work of mystery writer Keigo Higashino’s 2005 novel Yogisha X no Kenshin.

Kim Seok-go (Ryoo Seung-bum) is an ordinary high school math teacher who was a brilliant mathematician as a child.

He lives a normal, introverted life which includes a morning exchange with Baek Hwa-sun (Lee Yo-won).

She is a cafe employee with whom he buys lunch from.

When Hwa-sun’s ex-husband mercilessly beats Hwa-sun and her niece, Hwa-sun kills him.

Meanwhile, Seok-go overhears the fight from his house next door and decides to cover up the killing and protect her from the police.

He uses his genius in meticulously planning the perfect alibi for her, and thanks to his efforts, Hwa-sun is cleared in the case.

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But is she completely cleared from the murder?

9.Blood Rain (2005)

This Korean mystery movie is set in 1808, touching on historical discrimination against the Roman Catholics during the Joseon dynasty.

On Donghwa Island, there is technologically advanced paper mill allowing its townspeople a certain degree of wealth.

Suddenly, this peaceful and isolated island is shaken by a string of gruesome murders.

Even more, the victims were killed the most sadistic way.

With the killer still on the loose, the government sends in special investigator Wonkyu (Cha Seung-won) to crack the case.

His investigation leads him to an incident that takes place seven years earlier, in which the former owner of the paper mill was executed for practicing Catholicism.

In the meantime, the residents are convinced that the dead man’s is back for revenge.

Can the ghost of a dead man bring so much trouble into the land of the living?

10.Intruder (2020)

After the lost of his wife in a hit and run accident, architect Kang Seo-jin (Kim Mu-yeol) is a mess.

He is struggles to manage his work and taking care of his daughter as well as finding the driver who kills his wife.

One day, he receives a call from an orphanage claiming that his long lost sister was found.

Kang Yoo-jin (Song Ji-hyo) was abducted 25 years ago and now she finally comes home.

Soon, Yoo-jin gets close to the whole family including with Seo-jin’s daughter who follows everything her aunt tells her to do.

After a series on incident, Seo-jin begins to realise that Yoo-jin might not be his sister but an intruder.

Although the film was originally scheduled for a release in March 2020, its premiere was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

After its premiere on June 5, it breaks the records of highest number of first-day moviegoers achieved by any film in South Korea since the pandemic.

Watch Song Ji-hyo’s unbelievable acting in this Korean mystery movie called Intruder (2020). Credit: Youtube.
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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