10 million ticket films: What they reveal about Korean audiences

For a small country, South Korea has a very healthy film industry. It is sometimes considered to be one of the healthiest from industries.

South Korean films have always done well at the Home Box office, often doing better than American giants such as Star Wars and Titanic.

The measure by which a film is deeemed successful is in the number of tickets sold. The magic number for Korean films is 10 million.

So far no more than twenty films have done this. Nevertheless, in a small country, a film which sells 10 million tickets has been seen by a remarkable 1 in 5 of the population.

Here are the 14 movies to have achieved this remarkable feat:

명량 Roaring Currents

It’s a historical epic about the battles between Korea and Japan in the 14th Century. It broke the record for the most tickets sold in the shortest time

Ode to My Father

Although the film was heavily criticised in some quarters showing the dictatorhsip of Chung Hee in too much of a favourable light, it was a massive success in 2015.

Veteran (2015)


Also starring Hwang Jung Min, this was the second biggest film of 2015.

The Host (2006 film)


This is the only film on the list to have reached audiences outside Korea, which says a lots maybe about the inward-looking nature of the other films.

The Thieves (2012)

An all-star cast for this one.It’s nothing that you haven’t already seen before.


Miracle in Cell No.7


Masquerade (2012)


The King and the Clown (2005)


It looks almost the same as Masquerade, however, this film was made 7 years earlier.

Taegukgi (2004)


A decent film with some good war scenes.

Train to Busan (2016)


The first Korean zombie film isn’t half as good as many earlier Korean horror films.

What’s interesting about the list is most of the acclaimed Korean films which win foreign awards are not here. There’s nothing from Kim Ki Duk, Park Chann Wook or Lee Chang Dong. In fact, most of these films have not been distributed in England or US. Yet, all of these films were extremely popular in South Korea. If you look at the population, it’s clear that an incredible 1 in 5 people saw these films in the cinema. It’s a sign of how popular cinema still is in this small but prosperous country.


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