Korean films have gradually moved away from the low scale dramas of the initial days to the globetrotting blockbusters of today. The field may have widened, but at the end of the day, it's still all about what clicks with the audience and what doesn’t. Let's count down the top 5 highest grossing Korean films (Korean box office numbers) in history.
Ode to My Father (2014)
110,937,282,730 ₩ ($100,151,018.08 USD)
2014's Ode to My Father takes the number 5 spot on the list. Directed by JK Youn, Ode to My Father features an ensemble cast led by Jung-min Hwang. In order to earn heavy bucks, a film needs to either woo or relate to people. The overtly emotional factor verging on melodrama did just that.
Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds (2017)
115,706,188,137 ₩ ($104,456,250.01 USD)
In terms of approach, Kim Yong-hwa's Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds could not be more different than Ode to My Father. It's an out and out commercial blockbuster, created on the biggest scale, with mind-blowing CGI actions.
The Admiral: Roaring Currents (2014)
135,754,920,310 ₩ ($122,555,674.20 USD)
From fantasy action, we now move to the epic historical drama. Kim Han-min's The Admiral is the cinematic retelling of the Battle of Myeongnyang. As a naval war film, The Admiral rides on the shoulder of an ensemble cast, spearheaded by an excellent Choi Min-sik.
Extreme Job (2019)
139,616,194,600 ₩ ($126,041,522.61 USD)
Action comedies always work if they are well made like Extreme Job. Lee Byeong-heon's Extreme Job doesn't play safe and goes all out in terms of quirkiness and crazy twists. As a result, we get a perfect popcorn entertainment that is madly enjoyable.
156,943,947,034 ₩ ($141,684,522.48 USD)
Taking the title of the highest-earning Korean film In history is 2019's Parasite. Bong Joon Ho's genius shines through in this perfectly crafted social thriller led by Song Kang-ho. Oscar recognition has catapulted its global reach, making it one of the most popular Korean films in the world.
Note: All dollar values use the exchange rate as of 16th November 2020 - $1 = 1,107.70₩
All the 5 highest earning Korean films belong to different genres, catering to different sections of the audience. Yet, all of them share one similar trait - they are what the audience has loved and accepted wholeheartedly.