10 Korean Movies That Will Seriously Make You *Ugly Cry*

Admit it, Korean shows are the perfect go-to guilty pleasure to watch whenever you want to feel kilig. There’s just something about their approach and overall production that makes them so effective, relatable, and refreshing for us to watch! But while we all swoon over those romantic meet-cutes and slow-mo kissing scenes, there are also moments when all we need is a good movie we can ugly cry to. Below, we list five Korean movies you can put on if you want to bawl your eyes out.

1. Miracle in Cell No. 7 (2013)

Starring: Park Shin Hye, Ryu Seung RyongKal So Won

There are movies that make us tear up, and then there are those that make us shamelessly cry like a toddler. Miracle in Cell No. 7, a story about a mentally impaired father wrongly accused of a crime, definitely falls in this category. The plot follows Lee Yong Gu’s (Ryu Seung Rong) trials after he was unjustly separated from his daughter Yesung (Kal So Won and Park Shin Hye) and imprisoned in Cell No. 7, the worst room in a maximum-security prison.

What makes the movie so feels-inducing is that it bravely shows the best and the worst of humanity through its plot points and the sheer emotions of its characters. Yong Gu’s unfair sentence was caused and pushed by people who took advantage of his impairment, but he also won his allies through his kindness and honest love for his daughter. Miracle in Cell No. 7 is going to have a Philippine adaptation with Aga Muhlach filling in for the role of Yong Gu and Bela Padilla as Yesung. Make sure to have your tissues ready before hitting play on this one!

2. My Annoying Brother (2016)

Starring: Do KyungsooJo Jung Suk

Here’s a fair warning to those planning to watch this: Don’t let this movie’s comedic tone convince you that you’re safe from the feels! Doo Young (Do Kyungsoo), is a national Judo athlete who permanently lost his sight because of a competition gone wrong. His estranged brother Doo Shik (Jo Jung Suk) uses his younger brother’s situation as an excuse to get paroled from prison. The movie shows the estranged brothers’ initial antagonism towards each other through comedic sequences that, in time, transform into moments that slowly bring them closer together.

What makes this movie so dangerous is that you don’t exactly expect what’s going to hit you later. It’s easy to get carried away by the wonderful chemistry between the two main actors that you’d think the movie is off to a feel-good end. Plot-wise, My Annoying Brother shows that anyone, no matter what they’ve done in the past, has the chance and the choice to redeem themselves.

3. Salut D’Amour (2015)

Starring: Park Geun Hyung, Yoon Yuh Jung

This movie is perfect for anyone who loves a combination of romance, drama, and plot twists that will hit you right in the feels. Deviating away from the usual plots of romance films, Salut D’Amour follows the love story of Kim Sung Chil (Park Geun Hyung), an elderly man working as a shelf packer, and Im Geum Nim (Youn Yuh Jung), a supposedly single senior who just moved in Sung Chil’s community. Geun Nim expresses interest towards Sung Chil and the rest of the neighborhood—youths, included—go on a mission to help him impress her!

What follows is the unfolding of a plot that will leave you surprised and bawling in the end. Unlike other sad movies that use injustice and loss as the main drivers for their plot, Salut D’Amour still effortlessly goes for the feels by showing the depth of loyalty and love between people through time, even way after their memories betray them.

4. A Moment To Remember (2004)

Starring: Son Ye JinJung Woo Sung

At first, this movie seems like your run-of-the-mill romance drama. A wealthy woman falls in love with an average guy, her father refuses to acknowledge their relationship, but they work hard to make the world accept them. The beauty of A Moment To Remember, however, is that it pushes the plot into something more, adding layers of emotions that would have made an otherwise average story into a heartstring-pulling one.

The story of Sujin (Son Ye Jin) and Chulsoo (Jung Woo Sung) was filled with the ups and downs of any regular couple coming from different backgrounds. It also brings the emotional strain brought by Alzheimer’s disease into the mix, using that as a platform to show the perseverance of love against the backdrop of things you have no control over.

5. Cart (2014)

Starring: Yum Jung AhMoon Jung Hee

Sun Hee (Yum Jung Ah) is a dedicated and hard-working mother who has been trying her best to support her two children while working as a temporary worker. Even if she’s spent most of her life barely scraping by, she’s always held on to the hope that all will get better once she gets promoted to being a permanent employee. Her corporate employer, unfortunately, had other plans. Sun Hee and single mom Hye Mi (Moon Jung Hee) were suddenly laid off. Together with the other workers who were also relieved from their jobs, Sun Hee and Hye Mi started a protest against the wrongful dismissal done against them.

The beauty with Cart is that, while it doesn’t have all those big moments that would have normally made you cry, it moves its plot in such a slow burn that its viewers slowly but surely get swept by the storyline. The story will hook you with its scenes that we know exist in real life but don’t always get portrayed on the big screen. Sun Hee’s story shows the courage we find when we’re left with no other choice but to fight, and how those changes can affect the people closest to us for the good and the bad.

6. Canola (2016)

Starring: Yoon Yuh Jung, Kim Go Eun

Canola tells the story of grandmother Gye Choon (Yoon Yuh Jung) who had lost her granddaughter. She was left in a market on Jeju Island, calling out for her granddaughter’s name, Hye Ji. Twelve years after the sudden separation, a teenager pretends to be Gye Choon’s long-lost granddaughter in an attempt to escape her lowly and chaotic life in the huge city of Seoul.

Hye Ji (Kim Go Eun) has lived a very difficult life in Seoul, trying very hard to make ends meet despite being orphaned for so long. She tries all means to earn money, even if it means she’s stealing from other people. But when she gets involved in a robbery case, she escapes to Jeju Island and pretends to be Gye Choon’s granddaughter. However, viewers would get curious about whether she’s not the real granddaughter since she owns the same bracelet and the same gold-colored crayon, Gye Choon’s granddaughter has during the time she disappeared.

7. Kim Ji-Young: Born 1982 (2019)

Starring: Jung Yu Mi, Gong Yoo

Kim Ji-Young: Born 1982 is a movie adapted from the novel of the same name. It was widely discussed in South Korea as it tackled the impacts of patriarchy across generations. The movie begins with Jung Dae Hyun’s (Gong Yoo) careful observation of how his wife has changed into different personas, as if being inhabited by people from her past, like her mother and her older sister.

It all began during Ji Young’s thirties. After living an ordinary life taking care of her daughter, she then questions her being and her purpose in life. The movie moves forward by showing Ji Young’s life from teenage to motherhood. She has experienced it all—from having intrusive relatives pressuring her to get married to tolerating a mean mother-in-law criticizing how she is as a wife and mother. Told in the third-person point of view, Kim Ji Young: Born 1982 is a love letter to all the women out there struggling.

8. Pawn (2020)

Starring: Sung Dong Il, Park So Yi, Ha Ji Won, Kim Hee Won

Fact: Whenever Sung Dong Il is part of the cast, expect a cryfest already. Pawn is the kind of movie that touches on the topic of modern families. The twist though is that the daughter was originally kidnapped as collateral, hence its title, Pawn.

Doo Seok (Sung Dong Il) and Jong Bae (Kim Hee Won) are debt collectors. They pursued to take a kid as collateral for her mother’s debt. The child, Seung Yi (Park So Yi) is the daughter of an illegal immigrant from China. As she continued to live with the two debt collectors, she gained two father figures. At the same time, the debt collectors duo opened up their hearts for the kid and felt all kinds of guilt with what they did.

9. 20th Century Girl (2022)

Starring: Byeon Woo Seok, Kim Yoo Jung, Roh Yoon Seo, Park Jung Woo

Call us sensitive or whatever, but definitely ugly cried after watching 20th Century Girl. The teenage movie is set in the late 90s when everyone was anticipating the year 2000 to come. Four friends brought together by their young love and genuine friendship unravel what it is to fully enjoy their youth.

The story begins with Na Bo Ra (Kim Yoo Jung) accepting a request from her best friend Kim Yeon Du (Roh Yoon Seo). Yeon Du went away to get her heart surgery done outside South Korea, so she left Bo Ra with a request. She asked Na Bo Ra to send her everything about Poong Woon Ho (Byeon Woo Seok), who was obviously Yeon Du’s love interest.

Unfortunately, Bo Ra mistakenly sent details about Baek Hyun Jin (Park Jung Woo)—whom she thought was Woon Ho! Hyun Jin is Woon Ho’s best friend, that was why they are always together, which adds to Bo Ra’s confusion. Throughout her mission, she gets close to the real Woon Ho. It was too late when she found out that she had already fallen in love with her best friend’s first love too. The movie will take a sudden and unexpected turn that will surely have you bawling.

10. Our Season (2023)

Starring: Shin Min Ah, Kim Hae Sook

Our Season is heart-tugging for one major reason: it’s about a mother-daughter relationship. Park Bok Ja (Kim Hae Sook) was granted a miraculous opportunity to meet her daughter, even after passing away. The movie makes it appear like a special vacation for Bok Ja. However, she was baffled to see her daughter, Bang Jin Joo (Shin Min Ah) running a local diner in their hometown. She had expected her daughter to have become a professor and not a restaurant owner.

With her limited time on Earth, Bok Ja and Jin Joo struggle to air out unsaid feelings with each other as mother and daughter.