Top 10 Korean gangster movies of all time: Oldboy, A Dirty Carnival and more

Oldboy, A Dirty Carnival, The Gangster and The Cop, The Devil are some of the best Korea gangster movies. Here is a list of the top 10.

Published on Feb 14, 2024  |  05:58 PM IST |  286.3K
Oldboy, A Dirty Carnival: Show East, CJ Entertainment
Oldboy, A Dirty Carnival: Show East, CJ Entertainment

South Korea is known for producing a plethora of gangster movies which are thrilling and keep the audiences on the edge of their seats. Oldboy, A Dirty Carnival, The Man From Nowhere and many more have shown amazing action sequences and thriller plot twists. They will surely get your heart pumping and blood racing with the visuals and the stories. Here is a look at some of the best South Korean gangster movies of all time. 

10 Best Korean gangster movies of all time

1. Oldboy

Release date: November 21, 2003

Casts: Choi Min Sik, Yoo Ji Tae, Kang Hye Jung

Director: Park Chan Wook 

The film Oldboy is based on a manga and tells the story of a businessman who is held captive for 15 years without rhyme or reason. After he finds his eventual freedom, he sets out to take revenge on his capturers. The film became a massive hit and director Park Chan Wook received critical appreciation for this project.  


2. A Dirty Carnival 

Release date: June 15, 2006

Casts: Jo In Sung, Namgoong Min, Chun Ho Jin, Lee Bo Young

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Director: Yoo Ha

A Dirty Carnival tells the story of a low-level gangster who is at the edge of his fading youth and wants to rise up in the ranks. When an important case to eliminate a prosecutor comes up, he is determined to fulfil the task and level up. Things take a turn as everything comes at a cost. 

3. Extreme Job

Release date: January 23, 2019

Casts: Ryu Seung Ryong, Lee Ha Nee, Jin Seon Kyu, Lee Dong Hwi, Gong Myung

Director: Lee Byung Hun

The comedy film, Extreme Job, tells the story of a detective team who investigates drug cases. They come up with a master plan to bust a big drug organisation and decide to go undercover. They begin to work at a chicken restaurant in order to catch the criminals and hilarity ensues.  


4. The Man from Nowhere

Release date: August 5, 2010

Casts: Won Bin, Kim Sae Ron

Director: Lee Jung Beom

The Man from Nowhere revolves around a man who runs a pawnshop. His only companion is a young girl who lives next door. One day the girl is kidnapped as her mother steals drugs from a gang. The man goes on a mission to save the girl and bring her back safely. 

5. The Outlaws

Release date: October 3, 2017

Casts: Ma Dong Seok, Yoon Kye Sang

Director: Kang Yoon Sung

The Outlaws also received a sequel, The Roundup which was released in 2022. The movie revolves around the rivalry between two gangs which becomes a war and leads to bloodshed. 

6. The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil

Release date: May 15, 2019

Casts: Ma Dong Seok, Kim Mu Yeol, Kim Sung Gyu

Director: Lee Won Tae

The boss of a gang becomes a target of a serial killer but he survives the attack and becomes the only person to ever live after being attacked by the murderer. The gang boss and detective work together to catch the killer. 

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7. The King

Release date: January 18, 2017 

Casts: Jo In Sung, Jung Woo Sung, Ryu Joon Yeol, Bae Sung Woo

Director: Han Jae Rim 

A boy from a poor family works hard and joins the most prestigious law school in the late 1990s which was a period of democratic renaissance in Korea. He becomes a prosecutor joins an elite clique and gets to see the ugly side of power. 

8. Believer 

Release date: May 22, 2018 

Casts: Jo Jin Woong, Ryu Joon Yeol, Kim Joo Hyuk, Kim Sung Ryung, Park Hae Joon 

Director: Jung Seo Kyung

Believer 2 was released in 2023. The film deals with a cat-and-mouse chase between detectives and the biggest drug lord in South Korea. 

9. My Wife is a Gangster

Release date: September 28, 2001 

Casts: Shin Eun Kyung, Park Sang Myun, Ahn Jae Moh

Director: Jo Jin Kyo

The first part of the My Wife is a Gangster series was released in 2001 after which it received two more sequels. The drama tells the story of the woman who is a legend in the underworld but her life takes a turn when she has to settle down and start a family. 

10. Time to Hunt

Release date: April 23, 2020 

Casts: Lee Je Hoon, Ahn Jae Hong, Choi Woo Shik, Park Jung Min, Park Hae Soo 

Director: Yoon Sung Hyun 

Time to Hunt is set in a parallel universe in which South Korea goes through a financial crisis, a group of friends who are surrounded by poverty decide to take matters into their own hands and lead a fulfilling life. Things get rough when they are chased by a pursuer. 

Conclusion 

South Korean gangster movies and K-dramas are a must-watch. They can belong to many genres like romance, action, thriller and even comedy. They are not just mindless actions filled with unnecessary gimmicks but have real stories and substance and characters with motivations. These were some of the best Korean gangster movies which were listed. 

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About The Author

Moumita Chakraborty did her Master of Arts in Mass Communication and has been writing professionally since 2022. She is a

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