Seven Spectacular Korean Blockbuster Films Coming to North America

A string of compelling Korean blockbuster films are coming to North American theaters soon.

They follow the U.S. theatrical release of Hansan: Rising Dragon (starring Park Hae-il), a follow-up to South Korea's epic action war movie The Admiral: Roaring Currents—the most-watched and highest-grossing film in Korean cinema history.

Here we look at some other Korean blockbusters hitting the big screen in North America.

Hunt

Hunt marks the directorial debut of Squid Game actor Lee Jung-jae, the Screen Actors Guild winner and Emmy Award nominee who played the surviving winner of the deadly contest in the hit Netflix K-drama. Lee also stars in the film alongside Jung Woo-sung, his close friend and fellow major Korean movie star who is the executive producer of the Netflix science fiction K-drama hit The Silent Sea.

The pulsating spy action thriller, which received a 7-minute standing ovation at its preview screening at the Cannes Film Festival in May, follows two agents from the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (played by Lee and Jung) who are trying to track down a mole and see each other as prime suspects.

Stills from Korean film "Hunt".
Still from "Hunt": Lee Jun-jae (bottom left); Jung Woo-sung (bottom right); Lee and Jung (top). Megabox

Speaking to Newsweek ahead of the film's release in one of his first in-depth interviews with a U.S. publication, Lee, who also co-wrote the screenplay, said he wanted the two antagonists to feel as though "they see themselves in each other, even though they're clashing opposites" and "hoped the two would merge into one person."

Hunt will be released in South Korea on August 10 before its screening at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Its U.S. release is in the pipeline but the exact date has yet to be confirmed, the film's distributor told Newsweek.

Emergency Declaration

An unknown virus forms the backdrop of this gripping drama that sees an unprecedented crisis situation unfold after a mysterious man boards a flight to Hawaii from South Korea.

The heart-pounding thriller, which was previewed at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival before its general release was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, offers an adrenaline rush of nail-biting near-misses and chaotic scenes of passengers screaming inside an upturned plane.

The film's star-studded cast includes Song Kang-ho (the veteran main actor from Parasite) as a chief police sergeant and Lee Byung-hun (the SAG nominee and Squid Game actor who played the Front Man character) as a passenger.

The telling words of Jae-hyuk (the character played by Lee) in one of the film's most heartbreaking scenes forms a poignant reflection of today's times. "Everything happening right now is shocking and frightening. We're just caught in a disaster that no one wanted..." he says.

Director Han Jae-rim, who wrote the screenplay, completed casting and prepared to start shooting this film before the COVID-19 pandemic, stated: "I couldn't help but be shocked to see the events that I had imagined in my mind become reality."

Emergency Declaration will be released in North American theaters on August 12.

Alienoid

For many years, aliens have "kept their prisoners inside human bodies." So begins the story of the Star Wars-style blockbuster Alienoid, the first of a two-part film series by Choi Dong-hoon.

The sci-fi fantasy film stars Kim Woo-bin (the actor seen most recently in Our Blues on Netflix) as the Guard, a time traveler who manages the aliens' prisoners, Kim Tae-ri (the actress from BAFTA winner The Handmaiden, as a masterful shooter) and Ryu Jun-yeol (the actor from the Bong Joon-ho film A Taxi Driver, as a master swordsman).

One day a spacecraft appears over the South Korean capital of Seoul, while in a parallel universe 630 years earlier during the Korean peninsula's Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392), sorcerers attempt to seize a legendary sword that can move you through time. Chaos ensues as the two worlds collide.

Alienoid will be released in North American theaters on August 26.

Decision to Leave

Decision to Leave is the latest work from Park Chan-wook, the visionary Korean filmmaker behind BAFTA winner The Handmaiden and noir action thriller Oldboy. Park bagged the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2022, where Decision to Leave was also nominated for the festival's top Palme d'Or award.

The film stars Chinese actress Tang Wei and Hansan: Rising Dragon's Park Hae-il (also known from Parasite director Bong's The Host and Memories of Murder).

The movie sees police officer Hae-jun (played by Park) investigate the death of a man in the mountains, who develops conflicted feelings of both suspicion and interest for Seo-rae, the mysterious wife of the deceased (played by Tang).

Decision to Leave will be released in the U.S. on October 14.

The Ghost Station

The film adaptation of the Korean webtoon Ok-su Station Ghost by Horang, which is about a ghost lady at a train station. This horror picture, directed by Jeong Yong-ki, was co-written by Hiroshi Takahashi, who wrote the screenplay for The Ring, the 1998 Japanese supernatural horror thriller, and its 2005 sequel Ring 2.

The Ghost Station sees a young reporter (played by Kim Bo-ra from Sky Castle on Netflix) come across a horrifying truth while investigating a mysterious murder that unfolded at the Ok-su train station a month earlier.

The North American distribution rights for the film were acquired by Well Go USA Entertainment, the distributor behind Alienoid, Emergency Declaration and previous major Korean movie hits such as Train to Busan and Burning. Its exact theatrical release date has yet to be announced, the company told Newsweek.

Gangnam Zombie

This zombie thriller starring Park Ji-yeon and Ji Il-joo (from Hello, My Twenties! on Netflix) sees Gangnam, the upscale neighborhood in the South Korean capital of Seoul, become a center of chaos overnight. Residents begin to experience terrifying symptoms that turn them into strange creatures, as the remaining few attempt to survive the zombie apocalypse.

Well Go USA also acquired the North American rights to Gangnam Zombie. Its exact theatrical release date has yet to be confirmed, according to the company.

The Assassin

This period action film set during the Joseon Dynasty, the Korean peninsula's last and longest dynastic kingdom spanning over 500 years from 1392 to 1910, follows the story of the dynasty's greatest assassin and his fatal final mission.

Veteran Korean actor Shin Hyun-joon stars as an assassin with unrivaled skills who is met by an unavoidable fate after crossing paths with a former swordsman and village leader (played by Lee Moon-shik), South Korea's SBS and other Korean media reported.

The North American rights for The Assassin have also been acquired by Well Go USA. Its exact theatrical release date has yet to be confirmed, the company said.