The 10 Best South Korean Revenge Movies

5. Pieta


Following the premise of a dysfunctional mother and son relationship, we found “Pietá”. But in this film, unlike Bong Joon-ho’s “Mother”, Kim Ki-duk explores the perverse side of the theme with hardcore sexual scenes, incest, animal torture, cannibalism and suicide, all in a very raw and intense experience that toward the end revolves around vengeance as a vehicle to a higher purpose.

The story focuses on a mother who, after abandoning her child, decides to appear in his life very late in the game. As a consequence, the lonely protagonist decides to submit her to a series of brutal and bizarre tests in order to forgive her.

This strong movie doesn’t suit everyone and proves that some wounds are better to heal alone.


4. The Man From Nowhere


There is an essence to this movie that is similar to the film “The Professional”, which is about a mysterious man with a tragic past who comes across an abused girl who needs him. But don’t get confused; “The Man From Nowhere” has its own spirit and rhythm that makes it unique.

Tae-shik is a former special agent that leaves his past behind after the death of his wife and child. Through that moment on, So-mi, who lives nearby, becomes his friend and only contact with the world.

When the girl is kidnapped by a drug trafficking organization, he decides to do everything in his power to rescue her, making him relive a part of his dark past. But in his quest for vengeance he is given an opportunity to redeem himself. A man with no past and nothing to lose might save his own life by rescuing another.

“The Man From Nowhere” is a film with enough adrenaline to fill the action tank.


3. Mother

mother 2009

The premise of this film centers on a mother desperately trying to prove her son’s innocence after being accused of murder.

Do-Joon is a mentally challenged young man that lives with his overprotective mother, who warns him not to hang out with a good-for-nothing local named Jin-tae. The plot soon gives a twist when a schoolgirl is found dead on a local rooftop and evidence seems to go in Do-Joon’s direction, who actually confesses to the murder. Convinced the other way, his mother gets involved in a whirlwind of mysteries that will lead her to the truth.

“Mother” is a sensitive and hypnotic thriller that reminiscences on some of Alfred Hitchcock’s best work. Through a mother and son relationship, Bong Joon-ho delivers a powerful story that makes us wonder what a mother would be willing to do for her child.


2. I Saw The Devil

I Saw the Devil movie

This is highly recommended for those interested in a bloody revenge movie with a sadist and sexual perspective on human nature.

During a snowy night, Kyung-chul stops over a stranded Joo-yun and offers to help her with her flat tire. As she refused, the man kidnaps her and takes her to a cabin where he proceeds to torture her, and scatters her body parts that are later discovered by a boy in a nearby lake.

Police are called to investigate the murder, but everything complicates when Joo-yun’s fiancé, Soo-hyun, gets involved as an agent of the National Intelligence Service and decides to take justice into his own hands vowing to take vengeance. But soon he will learn that to make his way to hell he must become the devil himself.


1. Park Chan-Wook’s Trilogy

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

Park Chan-wook is the master of revenge; his films are proof and he owns the most famous Vengeance Trilogy in Korean cinema: “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”, “Oldboy”, and “Lady Vengeance”.

The three films are related thematically and although the stories have no relation whatsoever, the characters in the three chapters are victims of a series of circumstances that soon become their own collection of tragedies.

In 2002 the first volume of the saga premiered: “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”. The story revolves around Ryu, a deaf-mute man who works in a factory and whose motivation in life is to find a kidney transplant for his ill sister.

As he is actually not a match, he proceeds to contact a black market itinerant dealer who, in exchange for one of Ryu’s kidney and his savings, is willing to give him a type A organ for his sister. But after the operation, the dealer disappears in the air leaving Ryu without his money and the kidney.

Unable to afford his sister operation and after getting fired of his job, Ryu gets convinced by his radical anarchist girlfriend to restore the situation’s status quo by kidnapping his ex-boss’s daughter in order to ask for a “reasonable” ransom. He accepts but in order to not raise any suspicion, he decides to go with the daughter of his ex-boss’s friend: Dong-jin. From that moment on, a spiral of unfortunate events will cross the life of everyone involved, including Ryu, his sister, his girlfriend, Dong-jin and his daughter.

In “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”, revenge is nothing more than a collection of tragedies waiting to happen and when they do, no one its prepared for the price.

The second chapter of the trilogy is the famous “Oldboy”. The strongest and most brutal film in the trilogy gained Park Chan-wook the praise and recognition of the international market.

It follows the life of a drunken businessman called Oh Dae-su, who happens to be arrested during his daughter’s birthday. Finally, a friend of his, Joo-hwan, picks him up and they go to a phone booth near the station. Oh Dae-su calls his family but while Joo-hwan takes the phone, his friend disappears.

Oh Dae-su is kidnapped and kept in a hotel-like room for 15 years without any kind of explanation until one day he is released as easy as he was once captured. Shortly after, he receives a phone call from his captor who refuses to reveal any information related to his imprisonment.

Oh Dae-su decides to follow the clues that eventually will take him to the mysterious man behind his disappearing and place on him his final revenge. On the way he meets Mi-do, a young woman who decides to help him and for whom he feels a sort of animal attraction.

The more he seems to advance the less he knows about the real motivations of his enemy, Lee Woo-jin. Soon, he begins a mortal dance between the two men and a bittersweet plate of revelations is served in order to prove that truth can be as deadly as vengeance, and it makes us wonder if there are things better left untold. After all, “laugh and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone”.

“Oldboy” is the perfect combination of its antecessor and its successor. The brutality combined with the powerful poetic images makes it a masterpiece.

The final chapter is “Sympathy for Lady Vengeance” and is nothing like the previous installments of the trilogy.
This film is constructed from a female point of view, which gives the revenge theme a new perspective that develops in a different rhythm. But don’t get confused by the poetic atmosphere and sense of humor in this movie, it is the perfect closure for the saga.

The movie centers on Lee Geum-ja, a woman sentenced to prison after the murder of a young schoolboy. Betrayed by her partner in crime, she is wrongly accused and forced to give her daughter away. The case caused national commotion because of the violence inflicted and also because of the youth and beauty of the perpetrator. Thanks to her apparent spiritual transformation, Lee Geum-ja’s sentence gets reduced and she earns the nickname of the “Kind-Hearted Geum-Ja”.

As she is released from prison, her real intentions are soon revealed: getting revenge on her former accomplice and real killer of the boy, Mr. Baek. But she will have to decide if she wants to get daughter and life back, or if she is willing to pay the price for vengeance and lose herself forever.