Top 10 Korean War Movies

War is something very significant to a country’s history. It affects the country in many ways. It can change not only how they are on that specific time, but also their future as a nation. There can be many reasons for war to happen. It can be done to control a country’s natural resources. Other wars happen for religious or cultural reasons. Some happen because of political balances of power. One particular reason for war is done to settle arguments about land or territory and power. This is the cause of the 1950 Korean War. 

Nowadays, we often hear news about North Korea and South Korea’s conflicts. This conflict has started ever since the end of World War II. After the Imperial Japanese occupation in 1945, Korea was divided into two parts: North Korea and South Korea. The Northern part became a communist government ruled by the Soviet Union. However, the Southern part was a non-Communist government ruled by the United States. This alone sparked a lot of conflicts between the two. The border was set at 38th parallel in 1948 which made it official. As a result, there were two sovereign states caused by the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. 

The Korean War sparked in 1950 when North Korean Communist army crossed the border at 38th parallel and invaded the non-Communist South Koreans. They quickly overran South Korea but the United States came quickly to South Korea’s aid. General Douglas McArthur, the general that was assigned to oversee South Korea quickly sent orders to the US Forces to keep the Northern army at Pusan. The war went on for three years until 1953. When Eisenhower became President, he organized an audience with the communists and signed a peace treaty at Panmunjom which ended the Korean War. Korea returned to its divided status with two sovereign states: South Korea and North Korea. Nowadays, tensions still run high between North Korea and South Korea.

They both have laws preventing citizens from the other side to cross the border, except for a few conditions. It’s easy to enter South Korea but traveling to North Korea is impossible. The nearest that you can get to North Korea is the DMZ or North Korean demilitarized zone. This is along the border that separates the two sovereign states and you’ll even see their military officers stand face to face and feel all the tension. If you’re from South Korea, you cannot enter the DMZ but if you have a foreign passport, they will allow you to enter. 

Keeping track and learning about the Korean War is not very exhausting and time consuming as it only lasted for three years unlike major wars like World War II. The main focus of this war is the conflict between the two sovereign states of Korea: South Korea and North Korea. Luckily for you, there are a lot of movies made to make things interesting. Reading up facts can be very boring especially if you’re doing it for a very long time. Take a look at this list we made of the Top 10 Korean movies to watch about the Korean War:  

Taegukgi Hwinallimyeo

Taegukgi Hwinallimyeo, or more known as Taegukgi, is the most renowned Korean War movie or military film to ever be created. The story revolves around two brothers who fought on the opposite sides of the Korean War. Hence, the movie’s subtitle is called “Brotherhood of War.” Did you ever think that you’ll ever fight your brother in a war where you’re on opposing sides? I don’t think so.

However, this was a natural occurrence in Korea back during the Korean War. This war separated a lot of families and this was one conflict that this movie showed. Taegukgi provided a great emotional resonance for the people of South Korea that’s why it became such a big hit. It also was truly an epic movie to watch. It featured a lot of battle scenes – from fighting in the hills of the 38th parallel border, to the more specific battles like the urban warfare in Pyongyang.

This movie also had top quality of cinematography, acting, and special effects. Taegukgi was South Korea’s first movie about the Korean War to have such a big budget which was very critical. The high acceptance and appreciation of the netizens to this film paved the way for the other movies that you’ll probably see in this list.   

Gojijeon / The Front Line

The movie Gojijeon focused on the last few days of the Korean War. It revolves around the story of a South Korean officer who was placed in the fore front of the battle to investigate a possible Northern spy infiltration in their army. This movie showed how the armies from both North Korea and South Korea utilized the hills of the 38th parallel border for their own strategy.

The movie focused mainly on the soldiers of both armies and how they pondered over and over again about the reason why they keep on fighting the war. As it turns out, the only reason they’re doing this is because the war has been their way of life for the past three years. It seemed like a mandatory thing to do for them. The movie teaches us that war is brutal and senseless.

The movie comes with a lot of action – from suspenseful sniper attacks to countless number of human charge attacks. The movie never had any intentions to have an ideological meaning. They only wanted to show everyone how it was to be a Korean soldier in the time of the Korean War.  

Pohwa Sogeuro / 71: Into the Fire

The movie 71: Into the Fire tells the story of 71 student soldiers who were placed in the frontline of the early stages of the Korean War. They fought hundreds of elite North Korean soldiers in the battle of P’ohang-dong. South Korean troops were trapped in the Busan Perimeter on August of the year 1950. To be able to keep the perimeter safe, the South Korean army officers fought alongside the US military forces.

They faced the most feared North Korean army, the 766th Unit, at a middle school located in Pohang. This movie featured a lot of great actors and artists including the famous K-Pop singer T.O.P. as one of the protagonists of the movie. This movie never failed to show the intense sacrifice of the 71 student soldiers as they face the enemy’s very intense firepower and lose a lot of people along the way.  

Welcome to Dongmakgol

Welcome to Dongmakgol is the most popular Korean War film that focuses on the lives of the civilian. This movie’s story line revolves on the story of an army officer of the United States and North Korean soldiers when they face each other on a remote mountain village called Dongmakgol. The village was very far from the urban villages, too far that the people in there didn’t even know that there is a war that is raging on. They become very confused as to why the new visitors were wearing such uniforms and were pointing sticks, what really is a gun, at each other.

The officers from both sides became very fond of the people in Dongmakgol and their innocence. They then teamed up with each other to keep Dongmakdol the way that it is, with all the innocence and pure, kind hearted people. Welcome to Dongmakgol is a film that you will surely enjoy. It has comedy, drama, tension, and a very touching story that can keep you interested. It also offers us the view on how humanity encompasses even the most brutal wars and brings opposing sides together. It’s a good thing to start your movie list with this film if you’re just starting to know about the Korean War.   

A Little Pond

A Little Pond is not a traditional war movie. It revolves around the story of one of the most controversial incidents on the early days of the Korean War, the No Gun Ri massacre. This incident occurred when a group of South Korean refugees were suspected for harboring North Korean infiltrators. This incident killed hundreds of South Korean refugees which were fired upon American air strikes and the 7th Calvary troops.

Although this incident happened from July 26 to July 29 of the year 1950, this event only became known in 1999 when a group of Associated Press journalists published a story based on the testimony of both the 7th US Calvary groups and the survivors. It was turned into a book called “The Bridge at No Gun Ri.” The release of this story sparked an Anti-American sentiment among South Korean netizens.

Even though this story isn’t a very big part of the Korean War, it’s still a very important part of Korean history to note for.  

Wolmido

To change things up, we added Wolmido to the list. Wolmido is one of the most popular North Korean movies about the Korean War. This movie tells us the story from the Northern side of Korea of the Battle of Incheon in September of the year 1950. This is the battle where the General of the Army, General Douglas McArthur led 40,000 troops using naval ships to protect South Korea.

The Battle of Incheon was also called “Operation Chromite.” This certain battle lasted for 4 days in Incheon. Wolmido is named after an island off of Incheon’s coast. In this particular movie, a coastal battery from North Korea is placed in Incheon to defend the island. Although there are a few overdramatized scenes, Wolmido will give you a peak on how North Koreans viewed the Korean War.  

Maiwei / My Way

Want a movie with the story revolving around a Korean and his World War II experience? Then you’re in for a treat with the Korean movie entitled Maiwei. This movie is inspired by the true life story of the protagonist named Yang Kyoungjong. It all started when he was forced to join the Imperial Japanese army during World War II when Imperial Japanese took over Korea. After being deployed, he got caught by the Soviets in the Battle of Khalkyn Gol, the battle between the Soviets and the Japanese regarding their Soviet – Japanese borders.

Once he was deployed again, now for the Soviet army, he was then caught by the Germans while fighting them on the Easter Front. He was then placed on the Wehrmacht, the German army, just in time for the D-day or also known as the Normandy landings. D-day, secretly known as Operation Neptune, is a historic event wherein the largest seaborne invasion was done by the German army to Normandy, France. During this historic event, he was once again caught by Americans.

This movie is filled with all type of action from the different World War II fronts which you may find interesting. I’m positive that you’re also very interested with the plot of this movie and with the constant times that he was caught by hos enemies. This is a must watch movie because you can learn a lot about the different battles, events and situations during the World War II.   

Gukjesijang / Ode To My Father

Have you ever watched Forrest Gump? The next movie is more of a Korean counterpart for the movie Forrest Gump. It’s called Gukjesijang or Ode to my Father. Although most part of the movie isn’t during war time, the most significant scenes are. This movie doesn’t only show us events from the Korean War, but also from the Vietnamese war.

The story revolves around the protagonist named Yeon Deok-soo as he escapes Korea during the Hungnam Evacuation. He takes a ride on the SS Meredith Victory, an American ship used to transport 14, 000 Korean refugees to Busan. After arriving in Busan, he became a shoe-shine boy and shined the shoes of a man called Mr. Chung. That Mr. Chung turned out to be Chung Ju-yung, the founder of Hyundai group. To be able to let his sister hold a wedding, Yeon went to Vietnam to be a civilian contractor. That’s where he experienced the troubles of the Vietnam war.

The Korean war caused a lot of families to be separated, and Yeon’s case is no exception. He was separated with his father and sister during the Hungnam Evacuation and that’s what prompted the title of this movie. If you’re interested to watch this movie, make sure to prepare a lot of tissues in advance.   

Hayan Jeonjaeng / White Badge

Another war that the Koreans participated in is the Vietnam War. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, South Korea actually sent more than 300, 000 troops to fight in the Vietnam War. It made them second-largest contribution for this war. During this time, South Korea’s ruler used this opportunity to curry in favors with US. The movie White Badge was released not long after the country sought democracy.

This movie was declared as the most renowned Korean film about the Vietnam War. It is based on the story of a South Korean veteran from the Vietnam War named Ahn Jung-hyo. This movie shows us the trauma that war brings to a certain person. It shows how hard it is for a person who experienced being in the frontline of wars to adjust to his postwar life with the ghosts of his experiences haunting him every now and then. The movie also showed events from the Vietnam war as shown in flashbacks.

White Badge is a great movie to watch to understand the hardships and sacrifices that soldiers, not just Korean soldiers, have gone through in order to protect our lives.   

Yeonpyeong Hajeon / Northern Limit Line

Another movie that revolves around the Korean war is the Northern Line Limit. This movie revolves on the story of the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong’s intense seaborne actions. In June 29, 2002, North Korean patrol boats fired upon South Korean patrol boats because of a maritime border dispute in Yeonpyeong. A similar confrontation had already taken place in 1999. Two patrol boats from North Korea contested the borders and fired on the South Korean patrol boats. A series of back-and-forth attacks killed almost a dozen from each side.

The North Korean patrol boats retreated before South Korean reinforcements came. The title “Northern Limit Line” is the actual name of the maritime border between South Korea and North Korea. This happened at the same time that South Korea is co-hosting the 2002 FIFA World Cup with Japan. The events were being held on South Korea when this border incident happened. This is a good movie to watch as it will show you how gruesome a naval battle can be. It will also show you how courageous and strong-willed you should be to become a sailor in the South Korean Navy.

This movie will make you feel a lot of respect for those men in uniform and all the things they do.

More Stories
crash landing on you korean drama
25 K-Dramas of All Time