Here are twenty of Korea’s top gay themed films, depicting all aspects of life and homosexuality and how it is affected by gender equality issues in Korea.
They are a mixture of old meets new, in a fascinating way. They tell stories that span among different sides of life, putting on the screen feelings of love that overcome all boundaries.
The movie genres range from epic historical dramas to police thrillers to romantic comedies. All of them touch the subject of homosexuality: some do it lightly, and some do it candidly. Here are the twenty best rated Korean Gay films.
No.1: Night Flight, 2014
About: Yong-Joo (Kwak Si-Yang) is a top student and has plans to enter Seoul University. His student life is full of drama. Yong-Joo’s best friend from middle school Ki-Woong (Lee Jae-Joon) is now a leader of a gang. His good friend Ki-Taek is bullied by friends. Yong-Joo feels torn when he tries to help, while Ki-Woong just stands by watching.
At the same time, the young men’s parents are struggling themselves, and the school system emphasizes more on good grades than on friendships.
Yoong-Joo feels lonely in this world. He and Ki-Woong get closer to each other.
No.2: The Lover, 2015
About: The Lover is a Korean drama series that follows four couples who follow different paths in life who live in the same apartment complex: room 609, room 610, room 510, and room 709.
A couple in their thirties that has been living together for two years. Oh Do-Si (Oh Jung-se) is a voice actor, and Ryu Doo-ri (Ryu HyunKyung), his girlfriend, is a blogger.
A couple with a twelve year age gap. Choi Ji-nyeo (Choi Yeo-jin) supports her younger boyfriend Jung Young-joon (Jung Joon-young) in his pursuit of his dreams, and have been living together for a year. They fight and make up, and fight and make up again.
A couple in their twenties that just moved in. Seol-eun (Ha Eun-seol) wants her boyfriend Park Hwan-jong (Park Jong-hwan) to believe she is the perfect woman in all aspects, and she works hard to maintain that.
Lee Joon-jae (Lee Jae-joon) prefers to his own company to having a social life. He is aloof. However, he needs to find a roommate because his room is too expensive.
The roommate he advertises for does not need to speak Korean, because he wants as little interaction as possible. In comes Takuya (Takuya Terada) a Japanese national that is traveling to Korea.
Takuya starts helping Lee Joon-jae to come out to the world.
No.3: Queer Movie Butterfly, 2015
About: This is the sequel to “Queer Movie 20”.
Cheol-soo has now become an adult. He begins his social life working at a host bar.
He meets many people and involves himself in a world of lust and passion within the host bar lifestyle. While still young, he gets a neutral and new way of seeing the life of the gay host bar scene.
No.4: Two Weddings and a Funeral, 2012
About: Hyo-Jin (Ryoo Hyoun-Kyoung) works in a maternity hospital as a obstetrician. She dreams of adopting a baby with her female partner Seo-Young (Jung Ae-Youn).
Min-Soo is another doctor who is a secretly gay man. Hyo-Jin and Min-Soo decides to marry so that Hyo-Jin can adopt a baby with her lover Seo-Young.
At the same time Hyo-Jin can finally satisfy his parents. However, as time goes on, their plan proved to be easier said than done.
No.5: Antique Bakery, 2008
About: Jin-Hyuk (Ju Ji-Hoon) is the heir to a wealthy family. He has it all: The money, the charm, and the looks. Everything except long-lasting love.
He comes up with the idea to set up a cake shop, because women are sure to come in. He hires his friend from high school (Kim Jae-Wook), an ex-boxing champion (Yoo Ah-In) and an ex-bodyguard (Choi Ji-Ho).
Together, the four young handsome men are shaking up the otherwise quiet neighborhood. But they all carry baggage from the past that are hard to face. As time goes on secrets begin to surface.
No.6: A Frozen Flower, 2008
About: A Frozen Flower takes place during the last years of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).
The King of Goryeo (Joo Jin-Mo) is under pressure from the Chinese Yuan Dynasty. He is pressured to produce an heir to the throne.
But his romantic feelings for his general Hong-Lim (Jo In-Sung) find unforeseeable consequences. The king asks Hong-Lim, his lover, to sleep with his queen.
No.7: No Regret, 2006
About: Soon-Min (Lee Youn-Hoon), an eighteen year old orphan boy, has ambitions.
He works two jobs so he can go to art school. By day he works at a factory, and by night he is a limo driver.
One night he picks up the drunk young and wealthy businessman Song Jae-Min (Kim Nam-Gil). He drives him home and refuses his advances.
The next day Soon-Min together with many others gets fired. Song Jae-Min spots Soon-Min. It turns out Jae-Min is the son of the owner and offers to help.
Soon-Min is too proud and does not accept, and ends up as a prostitute at a high end hustler bar. Song Jae-Min gets more and more obsessed with Soon-Min.
The critically acclaimed No Regret is a debut film by Leesong Hee-il, and won rewards for best director, and best actor.
No.8: Just Friends? 2009
About: Min-Soo (Yeon Woo-Jin) is on military leave. He gets home to visit his boyfriend Seok-Yi (Lee Je-Hoon). They have a carefree time in town, until they bump into Min-Soo’s mother (Lee Sun-Joo).
His mother does not know about his relationship. When she asks, Min-Soo answers: “Just friends”. Things escalates when Min-Soo’s mother decides to sleeps over that night.
The short film is 30 minutes long, written and directed by Kim Jho Kwan-Soo.
It’s his second gay themed film. The other one, “Boy Meets Boy” was also critically acclaimed.
No.9: Suddenly Last Summer, 2012
About: Suddenly, Last Summer is a 37 min short film about a teacher, Kyung-Hoon (Yeong-Jae Kim) and his student, Sang-Woo (Joo-wan Han).
Sang-Woo sees his teacher one day in a gay bar. When Kyung-Hoon’s secret is revealed, he and Sang-Woo start a journey to explore their sexuality while trying to find their place in society.
No.10: A Crimson Mark, 2004
About: A Crimson Mark is a short historical drama set in the Joseon Dynasty, where we follow a chancellor (Dae-Suk Oh) and a young scholar (Dong-Gyu Lee).
Their political views are far away from each other, and so are their ranks. However, they find other common grounds and they start a homosexual affair.
The short film is thirteen minutes long.
No.11: White Night, 2009
About: White Night is a mystery thriller film where detective Han Dong-Su’s (Han Suk-Kyu) current murder case takes him back to an unsolved case fourteen years ago.
In the meantime, Mi-Ho (Son Ye-Jin) is engaged and set to marry the CEO of a large company. The assistant to the CEO did a background-check on Mi-Ho and found out that Mi-Ho’s mother was a primary suspect in that same murder from fourteen years ago.
The assistant (Lee MinJung) also observes another man by Mi-Ho’s side, Yo-Han (Ko Soo). Detective Han Dong-Su keeps on digging and finds out there is a hidden secret relationship between Yo-Han and Mi-Ho. Meanwhile, more crimes starts to unfold.
No.12: Boy Meets Boy, 2008
About: Boy Meets Boy is a short film with no dialogue.
The story follows the boys Min-soo (Kim Hye Sung) and Seok-i (Lee Hyun-Jin). Min-soo crosses path with the tall, broad-shouldered Seok-i on the bus on a warm spring day.
The smaller Min-Soo’s heart starts to beat faster.
What will happen between the two?
No.13: Love 100° C, 2010
About: This is a short film about a hearing-impaired boy, Min So (Kim Li Hoo).
He doesn’t have many friends in school. He feels lonely, and he happens to like a boy in class.
One day he meets a man in a public bath and impulsively has sex with him. At first this gives him more confidence. However, when he goes back, he starts to find out uncomfortable secrets.
No.14: Hello My Love, 2009
About: Hyo-Jung (Jo An) works at a radio station as a writer and a DJ. She and her boyfriend Won-Jae (Oh Min-Seok) have been together for almost ten years.
He promised to marry her once he returned home from his studies in France. The day Won-Jae returns home he brought home another friend, Dong-hwa (Ryu Sang-Wook).
Hyo-Jung eventually learns there is more to the relationship between Won-Jae and Dong-hwa than what meets the eye.
No.15: Going South, 2012
About: Going South is a 45 minute short film about Gi-Tae (Kim Jae-Heung) who is leaving his military service and Jun-Young (Jeon Sin-Hwan), his senior.
Together they are on their way driving back to military camp, with some noticeable tension between the two. Gi-Tae puts a sleeping pill into Jun-Young’s coffee, and he goes on driving them south.
When Jun-Young wakes up, a secret gradually reveals itself. They keep running and running, but reality keeps catching up.
No.16: REC, 2010
About: A gay couple celebrated their fifth anniversary by staying at a hotel together. They filmed each other in this private and intimate setting throughout the stay, and rekindled their love and feelings for each other.
However, as the day went on, things started to unravel, and they slowly realize that this could be their very last day together.
Cast: Song Sam-Dong (Song Young-Joon), Jo Hye-Hoon (Seo Joon-Suk)
No.17: The Depths, 2011
About: Bae-Hwan (Kim Min-Jun) is a photographer. Ryu (Hoshi Ishida) is a Japanese gay hotel employee.
Their relationship goes in a tangled way from friendship to love. They find each other while coping and healing from their own internal scars.
Photography becomes their common ground, and through that they find life.
The language of the movie switches from English to Japanese and Korean, and the story also moves through countries: Japan and Korea.
No.18: Futureless Things, 2014
About: At seven in the morning Ki-Chul (Gong Myung) starts his first day at his job in a convenience store. Ha-Na who is about to quit, trains him during his first day.
Ki-Chul is afraid to reveal his feelings for her, because she is sad from her recent broken relationship. At one a clock in the afternoon more characters join to work at the convenience store: a university student, a musician, a dropout, among others.
At six PM the lights go out of the convenience store and the doors are locked, and unforeseen circumstances takes place.
No.19: One Night Only, 2014
About: There are two stories woven together: Night Bug, and One Night.
Night Bug is about Han-Jae who meets gay men at bars with his accomplice Hoon, who pretends to be his boyfriend. He steals their money once they get drunk. Hoon has feelings for Han-Jae, but Han-Jae never answers them. One day, Hoon kisses Han-Jae.
The second story, One Night, is about Geun-Ho and Joon, who saved him from getting hit by a car. They randomly end up meeting again at a bar the same night.
No.20: Stateless Things, 2012
About: The movie is about two men who live outside of the South Korean society.
Joon (Paul Lee) is North Korean runaway who got fired from his job for defending a co-worker. Hyun (Yeom Hyun-Joon) is a young man living well-off through his older, wealthy lover (Lim Hyung-Guk).
Joon and Hyun meet through unforseen circumstances both wanting to end their lives. However, they start finding solace and regaining a positive outlook on life.