Article: Ten Korean Films That Portrayed Mental Illness

Korean films come in a vast array of genres. Korean Cinema lives up to our expectations, from mind-boggling thrillers to heart-wrenching drama. Today, we present you with our pick of the top 10 Korean movies that showed mental illness at its extreme. Without further ado, let's get into it.

1. Innocent Thing (2014)

This is the story of a former rugby player who works as a PT teacher in an all-girls school. His wife is pregnant. And he leads a good life. Though he gets his students confessing their love to him, he always turns them down until she arrives. One of his students falls in love with him, and that innocent love soon becomes an obsession. The more obsessed she gets, the more dangerous she becomes, even going to the extent of killing intentions.

Genre - Romance, Suspense, Psychological, Thriller

Starring - Jang Hyuk, Jo Bo-ah


2. I Am Happy (2008)

The film circles around a man's life who suffers from mental sickness after living with a mother with dementia and a brother who is addicted to gambling. After being admitted to the asylum, he falls in love with a beautiful nurse there.

Genre - Drama

Starring - Hyun Bin, Lee Bo-Young


3. I Am A Cyborg, But That's Okay(2006)

The film centers around a young woman who works in a radio company. But she has a secret to keep: she believes herself as a cyborg. One day she slits her wrist to insert wires to charge her up, which lands her in an asylum. Now she comes across a similar eccentric guy who is a former electrician and believes he can collect souls. They quickly form a bond, and love blooms. The difficulty arises when the young girl stops food intake because cyborgs do not need to eat. She falls gravely ill. The doctors give their final word, and the young girl has a few more days to live. It is now on her lover to connect to her soul and get her back.

Genre - Romance

Starring - Rain, Lim Soo-Jung


4. Lovable (2011) 

In this movie, little Da-Eul lives with her grandmother and an uncle who works as a waiter. Though they think Da-Eul is mentally ill, she has a special knack for art despite her autism.

Genre - Family

Starring - Yoo Hae-Jung, Joo Boo-jin, Kwon Oh-jin


5. The Plan Man (2014)

This film is about a librarian who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a phobia for germs. He always carries disinfectants with him. Due to his personality, he can't get along with anyone. But he falls in love with a convenience store worker who also has OCD. Love blooms between the two OCD sufferers.


6. Kim Ji-Young: Born 1982 (2019)

A fable of a woman in her thirties who suddenly starts to act strangely. The symptoms of her behavior lead people to believe that her deceased mother and grandmother possess her. This film sheds light upon the mental health of home-makers who go through mental abuses and stresses of different types while making it "home" for the family.

Genre - Drama

Starring - Jung Yu-mi, Gong Yoo


7. Two Faces Of My Girlfriend (2007)

A jobless man in his thirties lives off of his sister's money. Moreover, he is still a virgin and never had a girlfriend. But in his seemingly mundane life, spring appears. Finally, when he falls for a cute and sweet woman. When they kiss, that girl is taken over by another personality who bites her lover's tongue and kicks him. Along with his jobless life, he has to take care of his girlfriend, who has a split personality.

Genre - Romantic-Comedy

Starring - Bong Tae-Gyu, Jung Ryeo-won


8. A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

Based on the classic Korean folktale Janghwa Hongryeon Jeon, this film narrates the story of two sisters who, after returning from a mental health facility, have to deal with their dead mother's ghost and their cruel stepmother.

Genre - Drama, Horror, Mystery

Starring - Im Soo-jung, Moon Geun-young, Yum Jung-ah, Kim Kap-soo


9. Miracle In Cell No. 7 (2013)

Story of a man who is falsely charged with a crime he didn't commit. With his little daughter outside in the vast world, this mentally challenged man's cell inmates help him to sneak his daughter inside his cell.

Genre - Comedy, Drama

Starring - Seung-ryong Ryu, So Won-kal


10. Suddenly In the Dark (1981)

This film tells the story of a wife of a lepidopterist whose jealousy and suspicion exceed extreme boundaries after a maid is hired into the house. Her suspicion drives her to madness.

Genre - Horror

Starring - Yun Il-bong, Yeong Ae-kim