Korean cinema has gained international recognition for its high-quality storytelling and compelling narratives. In recent years, several Korean films have captured audiences worldwide by delving into true stories, shedding light on important events, and raising awareness about various social issues. Discover the selected Korean movies based on true stories below that have made a lasting impact on audiences globally.
5 Recommended Korean Movies Based on True Stories to Watch
1. “I Can Speak” (2017)
- Director: Kim Hyun-seok
- Writer: Yoo Seung-hee
- Main Cast: Na Moon-hee, Lee Je-hoon
The Korean movie “I Can Speak” is based on the true story of a former comfort woman victim during the Japanese occupation in Korea. It centers around Nah Ok-Bun (played by Na Moon-hee). People know her as “Goblin Grandma” since she persistently files citizen’s complaints at her local district office. Additionally, she develops an unlikely friendship with Park Min-Jae (played by Lee Je-hoon). He is a junior civil service officer she asks to teach her English. As the story unfolds, he discovers the reason behind Nah Ok-Bun’s determination to learn the language.
The film is a heartwarming portrayal that sheds light on the silent suffering endured by women who face both mental and physical pain. It highlights the significance of speaking up and advocating for oneself, ultimately taking the viewer on a profound and inspirational journey.
2. “The Attorney” (2013)
- Director: Yang Woo-seok
- Writer: Yang Woo-seok
- Main Cast: Song Kang-ho, Kim Young-ae, Oh Dal-su, Im Si Wan, Kwak Do Won
“The Attorney” is a captivating Korean film that depicts a lawyer’s quest for justice in 1980s South Korea. Song Kang-ho gives a remarkable performance as the movie delves into the story of Song Woo-seok, who defends a young student falsely accused by the government.
In shedding light on a dark era in South Korean history, the film portrays Woo-seok’s unwavering fight against corruption and oppression. Inspired by real-life lawyer and activist Roh Moo-hyun, who served as the basis for the character in “The Attorney.”
3. “A Taxi Driver” (2017)
- Director: Jang Hoon
- Writer: Eom Yu-na
- Main Cast: Song Kang-ho, Thomas Kretschmann, Yoo Hae Jin, Ru Joon Yeol
“A Taxi Driver” is an engaging Korean movie that delves into the events of the Gwangju Uprising in 1980. At its core is Kim Man Seob, a dedicated taxi driver in Seoul, portrayed by Song Kang Ho. One day, Kim agrees to drive a foreign journalist named Jürgen “Peter” Hinzpeter to Gwangju, unaware of the impending chaos.
Upon their arrival, they find themselves amidst the Gwangju massacre. Despite the dangerous situation, Kim and Hinzpeter bravely decide to document the unfolding events and share them with the world. Their determination is a powerful testament to the importance of humanity and the value of being witnesses to history.
4. “Hope” (2013)
- Director: Lee Joon-ik
- Writer: Kim Ji-hye, Na Hyun
- Main Cast: Sol Kyung-gu, Uhm Ji-won, Lee Re
In the Korean movie “Hope,” a young girl, So Won, is sexually assaulted on her way to school by a drunk stranger. The assault leaves her with significant physical and emotional scars. The event causes her parents, Dong Hoon and Mi Hee, to feel intense pain and anger. Overwhelmed by the trauma, So Won avoids any contact with her father. However, to support and protect her, Dong Hoon disguises himself as her favorite cartoon character, becoming her “guardian angel.” This touching story is inspired by the real-life “Cho Doo Soon” case that occurred in December 2008.
5. “The Whistle Blower” (2014)
- Director: Yim Soon-rye
- Writer: Park Eun-kyo, Choi Jin-won
- Main Cast: Lee Kyeong-yeong, Park Hae-il, Yoo Yeon-seok, Park Won Sang
Based on an actual scandal within the pharmaceutical industry, “Whistle Blower” sheds light on corruption in the private medical sector. Lee Kyeong-yeong, Park Hae-il, and Yoo Yeon-Seok portray whistleblowers who risk challenges in exposing a conspiracy. The film explores power and manipulation, prompting questions about justice and the necessary sacrifice to uphold what is right. With stellar performances, expert direction, and a captivating narrative, “Whistle Blower” keeps viewers engaged. For fans of Korean cinema and enthusiasts seeking impactful stories, this film is a must-watch. It emphasizes the importance of speaking up against injustice.