Top 10 Highest-Grossing Korean Movies Of All Time

If you are looking forward to South Korean films that are a wholesome blend of elite direction, thought-provoking themes, engaging storytelling and visually stunning cinematography, then these highest-grossing Korean movies will make great additions to your watch list.

At the forefront of the list are ground-breaking hits like Bong Joon-ho’s 2019 Oscar-winner Parasite and Yoon Je-kyun’s 2014 masterpiece Ode to My Father, which managed to achieve global acclaim with their exceptional storylines. The former made box-office history by becoming the first South Korean Oscar-winning film to take home four Academy Awards — Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film, at the 92nd Academy Awards. Meanwhile, the latter, starring popular actor Hwang Jung-min, became the 11th highest-grossing Korean movie to surpass 10 million ticket sales after its release on 17 December 2014.

Meanwhile, drawing inspiration from the Korean Joseon dynasty Buddhist paintings and early Buddhist texts of the Ten Kings of Hell is the Ha Jung-woo starrer Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017). One of the highest-grossing movies in South Korean cinema history, the fantasy thriller topped the box office with over USD 2.9 million gross on its first day, reports the Korean Film Council.


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These highest-grossing Korean movies are a must-watch

1 /10

Parasite (2019)

Directed by: Bong Joon-ho

Cast: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-sik, Park Seo-joon

Total Gross: USD 263.1 million

Synopsis: The poverty-stricken Kims cunningly places themselves in the service of the wealthy Park family to make ends meet. What they are unaware of is that the obscenely rich household harbours dark secrets in their basement.

About the movie: One of the highest-grossing South Korean films, Parasite is inspired by the 1960 classic The Housemaid and the Christine and Léa Papin incident in the 1930s. Additionally, the script is based on Bong’s own source material from a play written in 2013.

2 /10

The Admiral: Roaring Currents (2014)

Directed by: Kim Han-min

Cast: Choi Min-sik, Ryoo Seung-ryong, Cho Jin-woong, Jin Goo

Total Gross: USD 138.3 million 

Synopsis: It’s 1597 Korea and the threat of the Japanese invasion is looming large. To win the impending war, Admiral Yi Sun-sin (Choi) has to make sure that they can keep the 12 ships under their command, unharmed. Will the heavily outnumbered Korean army be able to defeat the hundred ships of the Japanese navy? 

About the movie: This top-grossing film starring Korean actor Choi Min-sik is the first instalment in director Kim’s trilogy based on Admiral Yi Sun-shin’s three great battles. The other two are Hansan: Rising Dragon (2022) and Noryang: Deadly Sea (2023).

3 /10

Extreme Job (2019)

Directed by: Lee Byeong-hun

Cast: Ryoo Seung-ryong, Lee Ha-nee, Jin Sun-kyu, Lee Dong-hwi

Total Gross: USD 120 million

Synopsis: A team of detectives, including Chief Go (Ryoo), Jang (Lee), Ma (Jin), Young-ho (Lee) and Jae-hoon (Gong), attempts to take down a drug cartel. They go undercover and start working at a chicken restaurant. However, the rising popularity of the restaurant poses a threat to their mission.

4 /10

Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017)

Directed by: Kim Yong-hwa

Cast: Ha Jung-woo, Cha Tae-hyun, Ju Ji-hoon, Kim Hyang-gi

Total Gross: USD 109.4 million

Synopsis: After his death, Kim Ja-hong (Cha) is left to navigate the afterlife with his guardian Kang Rim (Ha). Ja-hong must now meet the gods and face trials over 49 days. However, with an evil spirit wreaking havoc in the real world, the plans of Rim getting Ja-hong to the afterlife become challenging.

About the movie: One of the highest-grossing movies to watch, it is a Korean adaptation of the 2010 webcomic Singwa Hamgge by Joo Ho-min.

5 /10

The Roundup (2022)

Directed by: Lee Sang-yong

Cast: Ma Dong-seok, Son Suk-ku, Choi Gwi-hwa, Park Ji-hwan

Total Gross: USD 101.1 million

Synopsis: After exposing a ruthless loan shark, Detective Ma Suk-do (Ma Dong-seok) is once again appointed to lead a mission in Vietnam. Upon reaching there, Suk-do is instead entangled in the gruesome murder of multiple Korean tourists by a vicious killer named Kang Hae-sung (Son).

6 /10

Ode to My Father (2014)

Directed by: Yoon Je-kyun

Cast: Hwang Jung-min, Kim Yunjin, Oh Dal-su, Jung Jin-young

Total Gross: USD 99.3 million

Synopsis: Yoon Deok-soo (Hwang) has been experiencing the painful phases of South Korean history since the 1950s. Be it the Hungnam evacuation, the government’s decision to dispatch nurses and miners to West Germany in the 1960s, or the Vietnam War, Deok-soo endures it all.

7 /10

Train to Busan (2016)

Directed by: Yeon Sang-ho

Cast: Gong Yoo, Jung Yu-mi, Ma Dong-seok, Kim Su-an

Total Gross: USD 98.5 million

Synopsis: Seok-woo (Gong) is on his way to Busan along with his daughter Soo-an (Kim) aboard Seoul’s KTX train. As their journey begins, a deadly virus starts to spread in Seoul. When an infected person escapes into the train to save herself, she ends up turning into a zombie and infecting others. With the entire train at risk, will Seok-woo make it out to safety with his little daughter?

About the movie: Gong was the Best Actor nominee for the film at the 2017 Asian Film Awards.

Awards won: This zombie horror movie won awards for Best Director and Best Special Effects at the 2016 Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival in Spain.

8 /10

Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days (2018)

Directed by: Kim Yong-hwa

Cast: Ha Jung-woo, Ju Ji-hoon, Kim Hyang-gi, Ma Dong-seok

Total Gross: USD 92.5 million

Synopsis: Angels of death Gang Rim (Ha), Hae Won-maek (Ju) and Duk Choon (Kim) are appointed to take part in deceased Soo-Hong’s (Kim) afterlife trial. In the process, the three angels meet God of House (Ma) and end up navigating their 1,000-year-old past.

About the movie: This Korean movie is based on the webtoon of the same name by acclaimed artist Joo Ho-min.

9 /10

Veteran (2015)

Directed by: Ryoo Seung-wan

Cast: Hwang Jung-min, Yoo Ah-in, Yu Hae-jin, Jung Woong-in

Total Gross: USD 92 million

Synopsis: While investigating the suicide of truck driver Bae (Jung), Detective Seo Do-cheol (Hwang) discovers that the sadistic heir to the powerful conglomerate Sinjin Group, Jo Tae-oh (Too), had assaulted Bae. Do-cheol also learns that Bae left a son behind. He then vows to put the culprit behind bars for the sake of Bae and his son.

10 /10

Assassination (2015)

Directed by: Choi Dong-hoon

Cast: Gianna Jun, Lee Jung-jae, Ha Jung-woo, Park Byung-eun

Total Gross: USD 90.9 million

Synopsis: It’s the 1930s, and Korea is under Japanese occupation. Korean resistance fighter Yeom Seok-jin (Lee), skilled snipper An Ok-yoon (Gianna) and a few others plan to assassinate a highly ranked Japanese general Kawaguchi (Park).

Awards won: Best Film at the 36th Blue Dragon Film Awards and 52nd Baeksang Arts Awards.