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12 Extraordinary Movies Set in Seoul That Will Inspire You To Visit!

12 Extraordinary Movies Set in Seoul That Will Inspire You To Visit!

The recent surge in the popularity of South Korean movies, with Seoul at the heart, reflects a growing global appetite for the country’s unique storytelling style. Seoul’s juxtaposition of ancient traditions with cutting-edge modernity offers a visually stunning and culturally rich setting that resonates deeply with audiences worldwide.

The city’s towering skyscrapers, bustling markets, serene palaces, and neon-lit streets provide a versatile canvas for filmmakers. As we delve deeper into movies set in Seoul, we uncover narratives that are as diverse as the city itself, ranging from tales of personal struggle and triumph to complex social commentaries and genre-defining masterpieces.

Moreover, Seoul serves as a microcosm of South Korea’s rapid transformation and dynamic society, making it a compelling backdrop for exploring themes of identity, tradition, and progress. The films set in this city often interweave Seoul’s historical layers with its contemporary pulse, creating a rich tapestry of stories that are both uniquely Korean and universally relatable. This blend of the old and the new, the traditional and the futuristic, is a hallmark of Seoul’s cinematic charm. Additionally, the rise of streaming platforms has played a crucial role in amplifying the reach of these movies, introducing Seoul’s cinematic landscape to a broader global audience.

Movies Set In Seoul

The city’s evolving filmography is not just about the physical landscape but also about the emotional and psychological contours of its inhabitants. Seoul-based movies often delve into the lives of characters from various walks of life, offering insights into the human condition amidst an urban setting.

This nuanced portrayal of Seoul through the lens of cinema not only enhances our understanding of the city but also cements South Korea’s position as a powerhouse in the global film industry. As we continue this cinematic exploration, we discover that movies set in Seoul are not just entertaining; they are a window into the heart and soul of one of the most fascinating cities in the world.

Wondering where to watch? It depends on where you live in the world and which streaming services you have. We link to the streaming service we watch on in each case - be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, or elsewhere.

You can get one month free of Amazon Prime (or a 6-month trial for students) of Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to FREE Two Day shipping, Amazon Video, and Music. While you won't be charged for your free trial, you'll be upgraded to a paid membership plan automatically at the end of the trial period - though if you have already binged all these, you could just cancel before the trial ends.

Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option might be using a VPN to access Netflix titles locked to other regions. Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries worldwide and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (understandably) one of the best. 

While we wish everything could just be in one place - for now, it seems these are the best streaming platforms to watch on.

Movies Set In Seoul
Movies Set In Seoul
Movies Set In Seoul

Burning (2018)

Burning is a South Korean psychological drama film directed by Lee Chang-dong, based on the short story Barn Burning by Haruki Murakami. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018 and received critical acclaim for its intriguing story, cinematography, and direction.

Lee Chang-dong is a well-known South Korean filmmaker, novelist, and screenwriter, known for his works such as Oasis, Poetry, and Secret Sunshine. He has received numerous awards for his contribution to the film industry, including the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival for Burning.

The plot of the film revolves around Jong-soo (Yoo Ah-in), a young man who works odd jobs in Seoul, who runs into Hae-mi (Jeon Jong-seo), a girl he grew up with. They start dating, but Hae-mi goes on a trip to Africa and comes back with a new friend, Ben (Steven Yeun). Jong-soo becomes suspicious of Ben’s intentions towards Hae-mi, leading to a series of mysterious events that challenge Jong-soo’s perception of reality.

One of the most compelling aspects of the film is its exploration of class differences and loneliness in modern society, with the characters representing different social backgrounds. The film also uses subtle symbolism and metaphors to keep the audience guessing about the true nature of the characters and their motivations.

Burning is a must-watch for those who enjoy slow-burning, thought-provoking dramas that challenge the viewer’s perception of reality. It is a masterclass in direction, storytelling, and acting, and an excellent example of the quality of South Korean cinema.

The Host (2006)

The Host is a South Korean monster film directed by Bong Joon-ho, who is known for his unique style and strong social commentary in his films. His other notable works include Snowpiercer (2013) and Parasite (2019), which won four Oscars, including Best Picture.

The film’s plot follows a dysfunctional family’s attempt to save their young daughter from a giant mutant creature that emerges from Seoul’s Han River. The film blends horror, comedy, and drama, with a strong focus on character development. The film’s story not only deals with the monster but also criticizes the government’s response to the crisis and the media’s manipulation of public perception.

The Host is a well-crafted film that balances humor and horror elements with a strong social commentary that resonates beyond the monster genre. The film’s visual effects are impressive, especially given its budget, and the creature design is both terrifying and unique. The performances by the actors, particularly Song Kang-ho, are excellent, creating memorable and relatable characters.

The best thing about The Host is how it subverts expectations of a typical monster movie, while still delivering on its promises. Bong Joon-ho’s direction is masterful in creating an immersive and unpredictable experience, keeping the audience engaged until the very end.

The Host is a must-watch for fans of horror and monster movies, as well as those interested in social commentary. It is a testament to Bong Joon-ho’s talent as a filmmaker and the strength of South Korean cinema.

Mother (2009)

Director Bong Joon-ho has crafted an impressive body of work, and Mother is no exception. The South Korean director is best known for his satirical and often dark depictions of contemporary society. Mother, released in 2009, is a prime example of his unique style.

The film tells the story of an unnamed mother (Kim Hye-ja) who tries to prove her son’s innocence after he is accused of a brutal murder. The son, Yoon Do-joon (Won Bin), has a limited mental capacity and is easily manipulated by those around him. The mother, a widow who makes ends meet as an herbalist, becomes increasingly desperate as the police and society turn against her son.

Set in a small town outside of Seoul, Mother is a slow-burning thriller that delves into the complexities of motherhood, justice, and power. The film is a masterclass in storytelling, with Bong Joon-ho expertly building tension and suspense throughout the narrative. The cinematography, too, is noteworthy, with the director making excellent use of the town’s picturesque landscape to heighten the film’s emotional impact.

The best thing about Mother is the way it subverts the audience’s expectations. The film starts out as a straightforward murder mystery but gradually becomes something much more complex and profound.

If you’re a fan of South Korean cinema or just looking for a well-crafted thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, Mother is definitely worth checking out. Bong Joon-ho’s direction and the outstanding performances from the lead actors make it a must-see film.

A Taxi Driver (2017)

A Taxi Driver is a South Korean historical drama film directed by Jang Hoon. The director is known for his socially conscious and poignant films, such as Secret Reunion and The Front Line. The film is based on the true story of a taxi driver, Kim Sa-bok, who drives a German journalist, Peter, to the city of Gwangju during the 1980 Gwangju Uprising in South Korea.

The film’s plot revolves around the struggles of Kim Sa-bok, played by Song Kang-ho, a widowed father who takes the journalist Peter, played by Thomas Kretschmann, to Gwangju. The city is under military rule, and the taxi driver is unaware of the protests and violence that are taking place. The film highlights the brutal crackdown on citizens and the immense bravery of those who stood up against the government’s oppressive regime.

A Taxi Driver is a heart-wrenching tale that delves into the historical significance of the Gwangju Uprising, highlighting the resilience and bravery of the people who fought for their freedom. The film portrays the events in a realistic and sensitive manner, capturing the emotional turmoil and struggle of the people during that time.

The film’s strength lies in its ability to balance the dramatic tension with moments of humor, compassion, and hope. The performances of the lead actors are remarkable, especially Song Kang-ho, who captures the essence of Kim Sa-bok’s character with ease and sensitivity.

If you are looking for a film that will inspire and move you, A Taxi Driver is definitely a movie worth watching.

The Handmaiden (2018)

The Handmaiden is a South Korean film directed by Park Chan-wook, known for his distinctive visual style and penchant for exploring taboo subjects in his films. He is best known for his critically acclaimed revenge thriller Oldboy (2003), which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Handmaiden is a seductive and twisted tale set in 1930s colonial Korea, adapted from the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. The story revolves around a young Korean woman named Sookee who is hired as a handmaiden for a Japanese heiress, Lady Hideko, who lives in a secluded mansion with her eccentric uncle.

Sookee is actually a thief who has been recruited by a con man posing as a Japanese count to help him seduce Lady Hideko and steal her fortune. However, as Sookee spends more time with Lady Hideko, she starts to develop feelings for her and begins to question her loyalty to the count.

The film is a visually stunning masterpiece with gorgeous cinematography, lush production design, and exceptional performances from its cast. The film’s intricate plot is full of surprises and twists, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats until the very end. The film is also notable for its portrayal of female sexuality and desire, which is rarely seen in mainstream cinema.

The Handmaiden is a must-see film for anyone who appreciates masterful storytelling and exquisite filmmaking. Its exploration of female desire and sexuality, combined with its sumptuous visuals and intricate plot, make it a truly unforgettable cinematic experience.

Architecture 101 (2012)

Architecture 101 is a South Korean film directed by Lee Yong-joo, who is also known as Lee Jeong-ho. Lee is a relatively new director who started his career as an assistant director in 2004. His first feature film was Architecture 101, which won him the Best New Director award at the 49th Baeksang Arts Awards. Since then, he has directed several television dramas and films, including Split and Hello, My Dharma Brother.

The film tells the story of two college sweethearts, Seung-min and Seo-yeon, who meet again after 15 years. Seung-min, now an architect, is hired by Seo-yeon to design her dream house. As they work together, they reminisce about their past and try to understand why their relationship failed. The film is set in Seoul and beautifully showcases the city’s architecture and landscapes.

One of the best things about the film is its emotional depth. The story is relatable and touching, and the performances of the actors are outstanding. Han Ga-in and Uhm Tae-woong, who play Seo-yeon and Seung-min, respectively, have great chemistry and convey the characters’ feelings with nuance and sensitivity. The film’s soundtrack, which includes several popular Korean songs, adds to the emotional impact of the story.

Architecture 101 is a must-see film for anyone who enjoys romantic dramas. Its well-written story, beautiful cinematography, and outstanding performances make it a standout film in its genre. Whether you’re a fan of Korean cinema or simply looking for a heartwarming story, Architecture 101 is a film that you won’t regret watching.

A Hard Day (2014)

A Hard Day is a gripping South Korean thriller directed by Kim Seong-hun. Kim is known for his work on various genres including drama, comedy, and thriller. Kim has a keen eye for creating tension and suspense in his movies, and A Hard Day is a perfect example of his talent.

The film follows Detective Go Geon-soo, who, on his way to his mother’s funeral, hits a man with his car. Fearing the consequences, he hides the body in his mother’s coffin. As Geon-soo tries to cover up the accident, he becomes embroiled in a web of corruption and deceit that threatens to destroy his career and life.

The film does a great job at balancing tension with humor. Kim Seong-hun has managed to create a film that is both thrilling and entertaining. The performances of the cast are also noteworthy, with Lee Sun-kyun delivering a standout performance as Detective Go Geon-soo.

A Hard Day is an excellent thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. If you’re a fan of South Korean cinema, or just looking for an exciting movie to watch, this is a must-see film. The combination of suspense, action, and humor makes A Hard Day a unique and thrilling experience that is sure to leave you wanting more.

My Brilliant Life (2014)

My Brilliant Life is a poignant and heartwarming drama directed by E J-Yong. The South Korean filmmaker is known for his work in a variety of genres, including comedy, drama, and thriller. He has won numerous awards for his films, which often focus on the complex relationships between individuals.

The film tells the story of Ahreum, a 16-year-old boy with a rare genetic condition that causes premature aging. His parents, played by Kang Dong-won and Song Hye-kyo, struggle to come to terms with the fact that their son will not live a long life, while Ahreum himself tries to make the most of the time he has left. Set in Seoul, the film explores themes of family, love, and acceptance in a city that is both modern and traditional.

The performances in My Brilliant Life are outstanding, particularly those of the young actors who play Ahreum and his friend Mirae. The film is visually stunning, with vibrant colors and beautiful cinematography that capture the energy and diversity of Seoul. The soundtrack, which features both Korean and Western music, is also excellent.

My Brilliant Life is a great film for to anyone who enjoys thought-provoking dramas that explore the human condition. The film is a testament to the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit, and is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who see it.

Castaway on the Moon (2009)

Castaway on the Moon is a South Korean film directed by Lee Hae-jun. Lee Hae-jun is a writer, director, and producer known for his work on a few other notable South Korean films such as Like a Virgin (2006) and My Dictator (2014). His films often explore themes of isolation, social disconnect, and human relationships.

The film Castaway on the Moon tells the story of Kim Seong-geun, a man who tries to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge in Seoul but ends up stranded on a small, deserted island in the middle of the Han River. He survives on the island and becomes a castaway, while a reclusive young woman,

Kim Jung-yeon, watches him from her apartment window on the opposite side of the river. As time passes, the two become fascinated with each other’s lives and slowly develop an unconventional friendship, communicating through messages written on paper or sand.

The film is set in the bustling city of Seoul, with the Han River acting as a physical and metaphorical barrier between the two main characters. The contrast between the urban landscape and the isolated island creates a captivating atmosphere that highlights the loneliness and disconnection that can exist in a busy city.

Castaway on the Moon is a charming and captivating film that explores themes of human connection and isolation in a unique and engaging way. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a heartwarming and thought-provoking film that will leave a lasting impression.

The King of Pigs (2011)

The King of Pigs is a animated film directed by Yeon Sang-ho, a South Korean filmmaker who is known for his socially conscious and provocative works. He first gained recognition for his animated feature The Fake (2013), which premiered at the Busan International Film Festival and won several awards.

In The King of Pigs, Yeon Sang-ho explores the dark side of South Korean society through the story of two former classmates, Jong-suk and Kyung-min, who reunite after 15 years. They reminisce about their time in middle school, where they were bullied by a group of wealthy students known as the dogs. The film’s title refers to a nickname given to one of the dogs, who was the most ruthless of the group.

The film’s narrative unfolds through a series of flashbacks, revealing the traumatic events that led to Jong-suk and Kyung-min’s estrangement. As they confront their past, they also confront the reality of their present lives, which are marked by disillusionment and despair.

The best thing about The King of Pigs is its unflinching honesty. Yeon Sang-ho’s uncompromising vision exposes the harsh realities of contemporary South Korea, while also exploring universal themes of trauma, power, and human nature. It’s a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

This is a perfect film for anyone who is interested in challenging and thought-provoking cinema. It’s not an easy watch, but it’s a film that demands to be seen.

The Thieves (2012)

The Thieves is a South Korean heist film directed by Choi Dong-hoon. Choi is known for his entertaining and well-crafted action films, and The Thieves is no exception. His other notable works include Tazza: The High Rollers and Assassination.

The plot of The Thieves centers around a group of professional thieves from Korea and China who team up to steal a valuable diamond called The Tear of the Sun. The diamond is located in Macau, but the thieves must first travel to Hong Kong and then to Seoul to prepare for the heist. As the group plans and executes their elaborate plan, they encounter unexpected challenges and betrayals that threaten their success.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film is its setting in Seoul, which is showcased beautifully in several scenes. The city’s streets, architecture, and landmarks are all featured prominently, giving the viewer a glimpse into the bustling and vibrant city.

The film manages to be both thrilling and entertaining, with well-choreographed action scenes and witty dialogue. The characters are also well-developed, and the viewer becomes invested in their stories and motivations.

The Thieves is a must-watch for fans of heist films and action movies. Its fast-paced plot, engaging characters, and stunning visuals make for a thrilling and enjoyable cinematic experience.

Take Point (2018)

Take Point is an action film directed by Kim Byung-woo. Kim is a well-known South Korean director who has made a name for himself with his gritty and realistic approach to filmmaking. He is best known for his work on the films The Terror Live and Inside Men, which were both critically acclaimed and commercially successful.

The film is set in Seoul and follows the story of a group of mercenaries who are hired by a mysterious businessman to extract a high-ranking North Korean official. The team is led by a seasoned veteran named Captain Ahab (Ha Jung-woo), who is tasked with ensuring the safety of the group and completing the mission at all costs. However, things take a turn for the worse when they discover that their target is not what they expected, and they are forced to fight for their survival.

The film is a tense and thrilling ride from start to finish, with plenty of action and suspense to keep audiences engaged. Kim’s direction is superb, and he does an excellent job of building tension and suspense throughout the film. The performances by the cast are also excellent, with Ha Jung-woo delivering a standout performance as the tough and determined Captain Ahab.

Take Point is a must-see for fans of action and thriller films. Kim Byung-woo has once again proven himself to be one of the best directors in South Korea, and this film is a testament to his skill and talent. If you’re looking for a thrilling and action-packed ride, then Take Point is definitely worth checking out.