10 South Korean Crime Movies of the 2020s You Should See

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10 South Korean Crime Movies of the 2020s You Should See
10 South Korean Crime Movies of the 2020s You Should See


It’s a pity that the South Korean film industry has only recently gotten the attention of the world. The nation is renowned for producing uncensored, violent, and honest films that openly and bluntly attack any social issues regarded as alarming.

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Crime movies, in addition to romance movies, are one of South Korea’s strongest film genres. As the 2020s go on, South Korea continues to produce its masterpieces in the genre that has dominated the market for decades.


‘Night in Paradise’ (2020)

Night in Paradise centers on Tae Gu (Um Tae Goo), a notorious criminal who lost his sister and niece in a horrific car accident and decided to escape from Jeju Island. He is assisted by an arms dealer and his niece Jaa Yeon (Jeon Yeo Bin), who is terminally ill. The two eventually develop a bond while Tae Gu’s ghosts continue to pursue him.

Night in Paradise is a crime thriller that may remind viewers of the Hollywood crime movies of the 1950s with its nostalgic colors, outstanding music, and visually breathtaking action sequences. The movie also has great storytelling, amusing characters who help to ease the tension, and an equally talented ensemble.

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‘The Call’ (2020)

The Call centers on Seo-Yeon (Park Shin-Hye) and Young-sook (Jeon Jong-Seo), two ladies from different eras who communicate over the phone, which switches their fates. The Caller, a 2011 British and Puerto Rican film, served as the inspiration for the film.

Even though the supernatural element is the foundation of the main narrative, the film’s suspense and criminal aspects are the primary ingredients of its success. The soundtrack for the film is another highlight, and the film’s antagonist was expertly and realistically constructed, making a lasting impression on spectators.

‘Beasts Clawing at Straws’ (2020)

Beasts Clawing at Straws is based on Keisuke Sone‘s 2011 Japanese novel of the same name that follows three main perspectives. First, the restaurant owner, Joong-man (Bae Seong-woo), discovers a sizable bundle of cash abandoned in a sauna while the customs officer Tae-young (Jung Woo-sung), who was in debt to a criminal, decided to plan a lucrative con with one of his men. And Mi-ran (Shin Hyun-been), an escort with an abusive husband, finally sees a path out.

Beasts Clawing at Straws is like No Country for Old Men meets Pulp Fiction, with multiple narratives combined skillfully to express the spirit of the picture. Additionally, the movie moves at a darkly brisk speed with just enough humor to lighten the mood and cleverly advance the plot rather than detracting from it. Another aspect of the movie that stands out is the excellent cast, who bring a unique spin to each of their roles.

‘On the Line’ (2021)

On the Line follows Seo-Joon (Byun Yo-han), a former detective and a voice phishing victim, who infiltrates the perpetrators’ organization in China to retrieve the money he was scammed. There, he meets Mr. Kwak (Kim Mu-Yeol), the creator of this phishing scheme, who is proved to be not an easy task.

The movie starts off well with Bae Yong-ik‘s script demonstrating a solid comprehension of how the fraud functions and the infrastructure that supports carrying it out. Fans of Money Heist and Squid Game may recognize the film and like it even though the movie’s second half doesn’t offer the characters much room to develop.

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‘Time to Hunt’ (2020)

Time to Hunt, set in a dystopian South Korea with a faltering economy, centers on a recently freed prisoner named Jun-Seok (Lee Je-Hoon) and three of his buddies who decide to plan a heist. However, after completing the mission, the team discovered that a cold-blooded mystery assassin was after them.

The pace quickened with more action and thriller as the film progressed, allowing the audience to become comfortable with the group. The movie’s plot, considered Parasite‘s successor despite its painstaking attention to action sequences, failed to go further into classism. Time to Hunt, nonetheless, it’s worth watching Korean crime movies that fans should add to their watchlist.

‘Deliver Us From Evil’ (2021)

Deliver Us From Evil follows In-Nam (Hwang Jung-Min), a veteran hitman who intends to retire after carrying out his last hit; he finds himself involved in a kidnapping case in Thailand and under attack from Ray (Lee Jung-Jae), whose sibling he killed.

The two plots strengthen the movie’s pace and emphasis rather than detract from them. There are some breathtakingly brilliant street shootouts, a Mission Impossible-level rooftop chase, and some extremely satisfying martial arts. Moreover, despite competing against each other, the major actors have amazing chemistry.

‘The Man Standing Next’ (2020)

The film is based on Kim Choong-Sik’s nonfiction novel Chiefs of Namsan and covers the true account of KCIA Director Kim Hyong-Uk’s disappearance. The Man Standing Next depicts the events that occurred 40 days before Kim Gyu-Pyeong (Lee Byung-Hun), the KCIA director, assassinated South Korean President Park (Lee Sung-Min), ending his 18-year dictatorship.

The movie has a strong political and espionage tone that may or may not appeal to many people. The screenplay was faithfully and effectively adapted, contributing to developing a compelling story and intriguing characters with rational motivations and actions.

‘Voice of Silence’ (2021)

Voice of Silence follows two people who specialize in cleaning corpses for criminal organizations, the mute youngster Tae-In (Yoo Ah-In) and the middle-aged man Chang Bok (Yoo Jae-Myung). One day, they receive a well-paid assignment of maintaining a unique “order.” However, their employer died unexpectedly, leaving the two stranded in distress.

The movie is a slow-burning masterpiece that will undoubtedly appease even the harshest critics with its heartfelt message and flawless execution. In addition to its criminal themes and action scenes, the movie also conveys a profound message that can disturb viewers. The lead actors, Ah-In and Jae-Myung, deliver one of the best performances of their careers.

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‘Innocence’ (2020)

Innocence follows Ahn Jung-In (Shin Hye-Sun), a gifted gorgeous, and well-known attorney who decides to travel back to her hometown to defend her estranged mother, who was charged with poisoning her guests. When she begins to investigate, she discovers her family’s secrets and the village’s terrible past.

Innocence, a detective crime movie that hasn’t drawn much attention, is committed to excellence in terms of sound, picture, and acting. Furthermore, the innovative way the filmmaker used the camera perspective to tell the story and enhance the movie’s mood keeps the audience’s attention. The lead actress, Shin Hye-Sun, had a fantastic performance, shattering the innocent and carefree persona she frequently portrayed in her past roles.

‘The Day I Died: Unclosed Case’ (2020)

The Day I Died: Unclosed Case follows Kim Hyeon-soo (Kim Hye-soo), who is assigned to investigate a disappearing case, but due to bad weather, the body of the victim, Se-jin (No Jeong-ee), can not be found, and the case remains open. However, after Se-jin’s death is ruled a suicide by local police, Hyeon-soo is determined to find the truth.

The film’s female characters were all expertly and convincingly written, evoking sympathy from the audience. Additionally, despite the movie’s slow pace, the cast’s great acting, the ingenious use of music, camera angles, and lighting keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

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