Korean movies are just as abundant in genres as their western counterpart is in Hollywood, with some differences. Westerns, as well as Sci-fi, particularly sci-fi dealing with space exploration, are  genres that have varying differences when comparing them when they are Hollywood made or from Korean movies. Each of these genres have their own history and vary in popularity. A broad genre like horror for instance, has numerous sub genres attached to it. While there is a western genre in k- movies, it is a small genre but there does seem to be a counterpart in Korean cinema for it. K-movies seems to constantly find different ways to show the same genre.



Melodrama was the genre first adopted in Korea, and it enjoyed the greatest popularity for the longest time. There are three reasons for this. First, women were the first moviegoers in Korea. Even after modernization, most women, including those with jobs, did all the housework and men dominated society. Second, most melodramas were based on popular novels whose readers were mostly women. Women audiences wanted to see the fantasy stories they read in books on screen. Youthful romances, domestic dramas and women’s films depicting the ups and downs of women’s lives became the most popular trends. Third, because melodrama focuses on the story and actors more than other genres, it did not require advanced filming techniques or expensive sets.




The Korean action genre has no connection to the Hollywood gangster film or film noir. It is more like a Korean version of the Japanese yakuza gangster film by way of the Hollywood western. However, Korean action films usually have emotional heroes, but they are nothing but street punks. They are vindicated in the films, but illegal in the real world. Action films started to bloom in the late 1950s with director Chung Chang-wha (Hong Kong name: Cheng Chang Ho) and they unfolded against the backdrop of actual social history rather than developing independently as a genre.



Turning to horror, action and comedy films after defining melodrama leads us to realize that these three genres are variations on the melodrama. First, I will discuss horror films. Korean horror movies are different from 1950s Hollywood B movies, German expressionist films, and Japanese horror films. Nor are they like classic horror film’s icons such as Dracula or Frankenstein. Korean horror films rarely depict supernatural phenomena, aliens, monsters, killers, zombies, or lunatics (Few of the Korean horror movies that have imported such scary beings have gained popularity). Instead, the ghost in Korean horror films is a spirit who died with regrets or as a result of injustice.



Korean comedy is a hybrid genre without its own identity. There is no traditional slapstick comedy in Korean cinema, probably because there is no tradition of the circus in Korea (both Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton were circus performers). In fact, slapstick comedy evolved out of the circus, but the circus that came to Korea with modernization did not connect with the cinema.


If you've ever watched a Korean drama be it a series or a movie, you know what it's like to experience a dozen different kinds of emotions in just a few hours. Things start out slow, then the climax rips your soul apart, then the ending leaves you sobbing from satisfaction or deep in despair over a lack of sequel. No matter the genre,Korean Entertainment  simply keeps you glued to your screen. As East Asia’s media powerhouse, South Korea not only has romantic TV dramas, but also plenty of romantic films. Korea has romantic comedies, atypical romances, melodramas, and even fantasy romances — creating a very diverse set of movies for every occasion, be it a breakup or first date.



Of course, Korean cinema also features a variety of other genres. Underneath Korean popular culture lies the life of the Korean public on the peninsula, struggling through the modernization of the country. However, Korean film genres only treat this topic conservatively by way of social restructuring. In addition, as most of these genres were imported, distortions and changes seem to have been inevitable. Korean genre films need more reflective introspection to achieve historical vitality. Only then will they become truly popular, and it is not yet the right time. One should definitely try these genres of Korean Movies.

Author  Rian Kinnard

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