If you’re a K-drama enthusiast who also appreciates a good action movie, then we’ve got the perfect selection for you! Similar to Western films, South Korea also has its fair share of war films, ranging from riveting fictional accounts to true to life stories, that will leave you with goosebumps and a better idea of their long and rich history.
Below, we round up 10 thrilling Korean war movies that you need to watch:
1. The Battleship Island
Based on events from World War II, the Japanese hold around 400-Korean laborers hostage on an island by the outskirts of Nagasaki. Forced into coal mining and harsh labor on Hashima Island, they attempt to escape the heavily secured vicinity. This 1945 historical-fiction piece delves into the lives of the captured as they risk everything to return once again to their homeland.
2. The Great Battle
The Great Battle highlights the 88-day battle for the Ansi Fortress between the Goguryeo troops together with thier general Yang Manchun, and the Chinese Tang dynasty as led by Emperor Li Shimin. The latter wins the battle while Korean society grieves over an avoidable loss if Manchun had followed orders. While Sa-mool, a Goguryeo warrior, is sent to assassinate the seemingly incompetent general, they eventually discover the true reason behind Manchun’s actions.
Starring: Nam Joo Hyuk, Seolhyun, Jo In Sung, Park Sung Woong
3. Northern Limit Line
While South Korea is distracted by the 2002 FIFA World Cup that’s being held in their country, North Korea takes this opportunity to advance their own agenda. With the South Korean Battleship Chamsuri 357’s guard down, they are unexpectedly attacked by the North Korean Navy, launching a deadly battle between the two forces. The film is based on a true event which is commonly known as the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong. There, six lives were lost and 19 were injured by the end of the encounter.
Starring: Lee Hyun Woo, Jin Goo, Lee Chung Ah, Kim Mu Yeol
4. Operation Chromite
The alliance between South Korea and the United States dates back to 1950, a time that drastically shaped Korean history. As North Korea invades the South, the US, led by General MacArthur sends troops to aid and defend SK. To successfully execute their mission using two vital operations, South Korean troops disguise themselves as North Korean army soldiers to learn the enemy’s tactics and gather information pivotal to their plans.
Starring: Liam Neeson, Lee Jung Jae, Lee Beom Soo, Jin Se Yeon
5. In Love and War
Upon planning her wedding, Park Seol-hee and her anti-communist husband-to-be are separated as he flees from the Korean invasion. With new North Korean rules and authorities in place, she and the rest of her village are left with no choice but to cooperate to keep themselves safe. Her life gets even more complicated when a North Korean Lieutenant named Kim Jeong-woong grows fond of her, not knowing that they’ve met before. Caught in-between an apathetic profession and strong feelings for his childhood friend, Jeong-woong must decide where his loyalties remain—to his superiors, or the village he has learned to love.
Starring: Kim Joo Hyuk, Jung Ryeo Won, Won Young Choi, Yoo Hai Jin
6. 71: Into the Fire
Emotions bubble and tensions rise as 71 teenage soldiers of the South Korean army find themselves single handedly fending off an elite North Korean brigade attempting to infiltrate a middle school.
Starring: Kwon Sang Woo, Cha Seung Won, Kim Seung Woo, Kim Hye Seong
7. Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War
Brothers Lee Jin-tae and Lee Jin-seok are separated and drafted into the two opposing Korean factions. To protect his younger brother, Jin-tae bravely works and trains to earn a medal in exchange for Jin-seok’s freedom. After experiencing life-threatening missions, including the Battle of Pyongyang, he soon transforms him into a ruthless yet greatly awarded killer, causing a rift between him and Jin-seok who now fears the sibling he once loved.
Starring: Won Bin, Jang Dong Gun, Lee Eun Ju, Gong Hyung Jin
8. Welcome to Dongmakgol
Two South Korean soldiers, three North Korean soldiers, and a U.S fighter pilot serendipitously meet in Dongmakgol, a far flung village tucked within a mountain whose inhabitants are completely unaware of the war between the three parties. When a conflict between them arises and subsequently ruins the village’s food supply, the soldiers hold a truce in order to help the townspeople get back on their feet. In the course of their temporary peace, the opposing teams soon learn to work together when an impending bombing threatens Dongmakgol.
Starring: Kang Hye Jung, Jung Jae Young, Shin Ha Kyun, Lim Ha Ryong
9. Steel Rain
A rebellion against the government suddenly happens in North Korea, badly injuring their president. Tasked to keep him safe and to prevent the start of a Korean war, former North Korean Special Forces agent Eom Chul-Woo defects to the South with NK’s leader under his watch.
Starring: Jung Woo Sung, Kwak Do Won, Kim Kap Soo, Kyeong Yeong Lee
10. The Front Line
Despite an ordered ceasefire to stop the Korean War, the battle is far from over for two opposing troops attempting to conquer a piece of land meant to act as a border between North and South Korea.
Starring: Go Soo, Kim Ok Bin, Shin Ha Kyun, Ryu Seung Soo