‘Gonjiam Haunted Asylum’: Get your K-horror fix with these movies
Gonjiam Haunted Asylum is one recent South Korean horror film that has terrified audiences around the globe.
Gonjiam Haunted Asylum has crossed over and has grown a considerable cult following outside of its country of origin. South Korea has a fantastic film industry that produces some of the most shocking & original horror films ever.
If you are looking to expand your horror horizons for the upcoming spooky season then Gonjiam Haunted Asylum and its K-horror brethren are perfect for you.
Gonjiam Haunted Asylum
Gonjiam Haunted Asylum generated a significant amount of buzz because the film briefly had a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While it’s perfect score was blemished by a single rotten rating, the film was able to reach a much wider audience.
This found footage horror film tells the story of a group of teenagers who venture into the abandoned Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital. The co-eds set up cameras in order to live stream their journey through the supposedly haunted hospital.
What follows is an exercise not in excessive blood & guts or jump scares which are often the hallmarks of the genre. Instead, tension is subtly built into a feature that is deeply unsettling.
Train to Busan
Train to Busan is a film that offers viewers a unique take on the zombie outbreak genre. What makes Train to Busan stand out among a crowded field of zombie flicks is the emotional core formed by the film’s father & daughter story. The absentee father, feeling guilty for missing his daughter’s recital, decides to take her from Seoul to Busan.
The trip is thrown into chaos when martial law is declared following a mysterious viral outbreak. Our protagonists must band together to get to Busan, a city they believe is safe from the plague.
Train to Busan grew in popularity due to the fact that it was available on a number of different streaming services, allowing it to reach a very wide audience. Peninsula, a sequel, was released in 2020.
A Tale of Two Sisters
A Tale of Two Sisters was one of the highest grossing horror films ever in South Korea. The film was such a success that it even spawned an American remake, The Uninvited.
A woman released from a mental institution, thankfully not Gonjiam Haunted Asylum, returns home with her sister only to be forced to confront her family’s dark history. The film was inspired by a Korean folktale called Janghwa Hongryeon jeon. The film’s two sisters echo the two sisters from the folktale, though the film is full of terrifying twists that lead to a disturbing & bizarre climax.
Park Chan-wook is one of South Korea’s greatest living directors. While Oldboy catapulted Park to international stardom, his 2009 film Thirst is one of the greatest K-horror films ever made.
Sang-hyun is a respected Catholic priest who secretly doubts his faith. After volunteering to take an experimental vaccine, Sang-hyun dies before being revived by a blood transfusion. His parishioners believe that he is capable of miracles, though Sang-hyun finds that he has become a vampire.
Sang-hyun is torn between darkness & light. His faith, already fragile, is rocked by his newfound bloodlust. As his desires begin to spiral out of control he falls in love with his childhood friend’s wife.
Io Island was directed by Kim Ki-young in 1977. This classic South Korean horror film may be difficult to get your hands on, but it is certainly one of the most shocking & bizarre films on this list. Io Island is also a visual marvel, featuring incredible views on unforgiving cliffs & crashing waves.
A company is attempting to build a resort hotel on the ancient island of Ieodo, which is said to be haunted by the spirits of drowned sailors. During a trip to the island, a journalist mysteriously disappears. Fearing the disappearance will threaten his development, Seon Woo-hyeon sets out to unravel the mystery.
Io Island is a chilling horror film that also focuses on how South Korea & the earth were undergoing radical changes. The island, which is based on a real place, preserves ancient traditions which are threatened by land development & ecological ruin. As a result the film functions as a horror film as well as a commentary on how modernity can erode culture & threaten harmony with nature.
What are some of your favorite K-horror movies? Share with us in the comments below!