Sometimes, binge-watching cheesy romance movies and heart-wrenching dramas make us crave some thrill — enter Korean gangster movies!
With blood-soaked gang fights, action-packed scenes, and cool gang members, they’re guaranteed to give you a rush of adrenaline and literal chills! Most of them even feature award-winning action stars like Ma Dong-Seok, Lee Jung-jae, and Jo In-Sung.
The 12 Best Korean Gangster Movies You Need To Watch
Ready to dive into the violent side of Korean movies? Check out our list of the 12 best Korean gangster movies you should watch:
- Deliver Us from Evil (2021)
- Night in Paradise (2020)
- The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil (2019)
- The Outlaws (2017)
- Coin Locker Girl (2015)
- New World (2013)
- Nameless Gangster (2012)
- The Man From Nowhere (2010)
- Breathless (2009)
- A Dirty Carnival (2006)
- Gangster High (2006)
- A Bittersweet Life (2005)
1. Deliver Us from Evil (2021)
Deliver Us from Evil is an action-thriller movie that will take on a roller coaster ride with its intense scenes and storyline. It’s about In-Nam, a former black ops agent turned into an assassin.
Just as he plans to change his life, he learns about his ex-girlfriend’s death, and his daughter gets kidnapped. While on a mission to rescue his daughter, Ray, a Japanese gangster known as ‘The Butcher’ looks for him.
It turns out that In-Nam’s last victim is Ray’s brother and the cat and mouse game begins.
2. Night in Paradise (2020)
Night in Paradise is an action crime movie with a touch of romance, yet not for the faint of heart as it contains gruesome scenes. It follows an ace member of a Seoul-based gang named Tae Gu, who receives an offer to change allies with the Bukseong gang.
As soon as he refuses, his sister gets killed and believes that the Bukseong gang is behind it. Wanting justice through revenge, he slaughters the enemy gang’s leader and then hides on Jeju Island, where he meets Jae-yeon, a woman who’s given up on life.
3. The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil (2019)
The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil is based on a true story, and it comes with persistent thrill and suspense that will keep you glued to your screen! It starts when a gang boss in Cheonan, Jang Dong-soo becomes a target of a rampant serial killer, Kang Kyung Ho.
Jang Dong-soo survives his attack and forms an unexpected partnership with a cop known as Jung Tae-seok, who hates organized crime members. Together, they hunt the devil and face challenges that complicate their mission.
4. The Outlaws (2017)
The Outlaws is another suspenseful based on the true story of the ‘Heuksapa Incident’ where 32 gangsters were arrested for causing trouble in the area. The film follows Ma Suk-Do, who works as a detective in Garibong — a local Chinatown in Seoul.
Meanwhile, Jang Chen, a loan shark from China, violently collects debt from the local gangsters in Garibong and becomes the most feared gangster in the city. As the two gangs fight over Chinatown, Ma Suk-Do and his team make their move to catch Jang Chen and restore peace in his district.
5. Coin Locker Girl (2015)
Kim Go Eun, also known as Eun-Tak in the Korean drama, ‘Goblin,’ shows her limitless acting skills in the Korean movie, ‘Coin Locker Girl.’ It’s a story of an abandoned newborn baby girl in a subway coin locker, hence its title.
A beggar takes care of her and names her Il Yeong, but a corrupt detective sells her off to a remorseless loan shark known as ‘Mother.’
When Il Yeong grows into a teen, she becomes Mother’s trusted right hand and personal debt collector. But her life changes when she meets Suk-hyun, a kind-hearted boy she’s supposed to kill.
6. New World (2013)
Looking for a thriller movie that’ll keep you on your toes? Don’t miss out on New World!
When Goldmoon — the biggest crime organization in Korea — falls into chaos when its leader, Chairman Seok, dies in a mysterious car accident. Two members of the gang fight to get his position.
Desperate to leave the gang, an undercover police officer for eight years, Ja-sung, plans on using the incident as an opportunity to be reinstated as a police officer. However, his attempt to leave fails when police officials initiate the project ‘New World,’ where detective Kang uses him to intervene in Goldmoon’s election process.
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7. Nameless Gangster (2012)
Nameless Gangster had to be in our list of the best Korean gangster movies!
Working as a corrupt customs officer in Busan, Choi Ik-Hyun and his colleagues get investigated for taking bribes. He is chosen to become the fall guy but refuses. One night, he witnesses two men breaking into a warehouse full of heroin.
He takes advantage of what he discovered by making his colleagues agree to sell the drugs in exchange for his retirement and him being the fall guy. But he gets entangled with a mob boss Choi Hyung-Bae, who agrees to form a partnership with him until the government declares war on crime.
Will the partnership last? Or they’ll just end up betraying each other? Find out when watch this mobster movie!
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8. The Man From Nowhere (2010)
Grab some tissues and brace yourself with this action-packed, tragic, and emotional gangster movie! It’s about a former special agent, Cha Tae-Sik, who becomes an owner of a pawnshop when his wife died in an accident.
One day, his customer, Hyo-Jeong, pawns off to him a bag. However, he is unaware that the bag is full of stolen heroin, making him involved in trouble. Then, Hyo-Jeong and her daughter, So-mi, who’s also a friend of Tae Sik, get kidnapped by a gang.
As he tries to rescue the two, his mysterious life unravels and things start to get more complicated.
9. Breathless (2009)
Breathless is one of the best South Korean indie movies about hope and despair.
It follows the story of Sang-Hoon, a man who turned violent due to his troubled childhood and abusive father. He now works for an illegal money-lending organization as a debt collector and a low-level gangster.
His life starts to shift to a different path when he meets and develops an unusual friendship with a teenage girl named Yon-hi.
10. A Dirty Carnival (2006)
Want a classic yet timeless gangster movie that’ll keep you drawn with its story and scenes? ‘A Dirty Carnival’ should be on your watch list!
Kim Byung Doo, a low-level gangster will do anything to support his mother and two younger siblings, even if it means risking his own life. With his fading youth and tough life, he embarks on a dangerous secret mission where he needs to eliminate a criminal prosecutor.
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11. Gangster High (2006)
The list would never be complete without Gangster High — the best high school gang movie that depicts teen violence.
The chaotic story starts when Sang Ho creates a soccer team called ‘Tiger’ along with his friends. People misunderstand their ordinary team as a reckless group of gangsters after getting into a fight with their seniors.
One day, Sang Ho gets close to a girl named Soo-Hee. Just as he gets attached to her, it turns out she’s an ex-girlfriend of a gangster boss, making their team involved in a gang war.
12. A Bittersweet Life (2005)
‘A Bittersweet Life’ is another classic gangster movie that’s more than just an action film with its emotional, revenge-driven story.
It’s about a Gangland boss’ trusted right hand, Sun Woo, who’s tasked to investigate his boss’ girlfriend, Hee-Su, as he thinks she’s having an affair.
Smitten with her good personality, Sun Woo refuses his boss’ order to kill Hee-Su once her affair is confirmed. So, Sun Woo gets beaten up to death by thugs, but fortunately, he survives and plans a revenge.
Korean gangster movies are indeed in a league of their own. From cat-and-mouse chases, bloodbaths, and thought-provoking storylines, they’ll leave you stunned at the edge of your seat!
We hope you discovered some great gangster flicks to add to your watch list!
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!