Looking for nice documentaries about South Korea

From time to time I love to watch documentaries of other countries that cover things like culture, show how daily life is etc.
I saw a few about North Korea but South Korea seems a bit harder to find. I did see a few travel program items about South Korea but I would love to watch a more in depth documentary.

Does someone know good documentaries about South Korea in English or Dutch or with English or Dutch subs?


hi , Dudie actually i watched it on KBS WORLD AND ARIRANG WITH DIFFERENT languages , I LOVE TO WATCH IT FROM TIME TO TIME ,THIS ALL I KNOW , SORRY I AM NOT HELPFUL , :disappointed_relieved:

I’d love that too. Did you ever notice how women are depicted as strong in historic theme dramas but stupid silly things in modern dramas.
Really curious if this is accepted in their culture or why writers seem intent to depict them this way.

I agree. We do lack good quality documentaries which would enable us to understand better the country, it’s geography, history, culture and social issues.
Copying here from my post on Variety shows

Here is a list of things I found on the internet. There should be dozens more.

See this BBCdocumentary South Korea: The Silent Cultural Superpower.
Documentary films about S.Korea (a short list on Wikipedia)
South Korean documentary films (a list by Wikipedia)
The Sewol. A S.Korean documentary about the Sewol Tragedy.
The Foreigner An incredible group of pro Korean gamers take the world by surprise in an international tournament.

The Last Tear (2015) About “comfort women,” or more accurately, the estimated 200,000 women who were recruited to sexually serve the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

A Trip to South Korea - People of Life (2012) The filmmaker travels all over Korea and talks to everyday people.

Fading Away (2013) A series of never before told stories from a group of unique Korean War veterans and refugees through a series of insightful interviews and the use of rare historical film footage, photos and other archival material.

Weekends (2016) Every weekend, a group of gay men gather around the heart of Seoul, Korea, to sing. They are more like a bunch of amateurs than a harmonized choir, but they are voicing for equality and against discrimination towards sexual minorities in Korea. G-Voice is the one and only gay men’s choir in South Korea.

Reach for the SKY (2015) Belgian/Korean coproduction that tells the story of several South-Korean high school students, their families and teachers, as they prepare for the annual National Exam. The exam will not only determine where the high school seniors will attend university but ultimately also their status in the Korean hierarchical society.

Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits (2014) A life documentary of a woman who was shunned for being possessed by spirits as a girl, oppressed for following superstitions as an adult, how she grows to be a great shaman who embraces the pain of all people, and how she comes to be honored as a national treasure of Korea with her outstanding artistic talents throughout Korea’s tumultuous history.

My Fair Wedding 마이 페어 웨딩, In an intimate and candid documentary shot by Jang Hee-sun, we follow Gwang-Soo and Dave as they plan their landmark wedding, the first same-sex marriage performed in South Korea. However, with tradition and conservatism broken, gay marriage opponents make their displeasure heard loud and clear before and during the grooms’ special day.

Kim Dong-won’s Sanggye-dong Olympics (1988) , about the forcible relocation of slum residents during construction for the Olympics, is considered by many to represent the first major work of the Korean documentary movement. When it was decided that the 88 Olympics would be held in Seoul, the residents of Sanggye-dong were forced from their homes and they struggled against the government to at least guarantee them new residences. The director filmed the difficulties and the hardships of the relocated residents.
Smashing Homophobia Project (2007) documentary triptych about the lives of three Korean lesbian teenagers.
An Omnivorous Family’s Dilemma (2014). About the challenges faced by a South Korean woman deciding to go vegetarian.

Repatriation (2004) a film project which spanned 12 years and 800 hours of videotaping, is about Korea’s long-term prisoners of conscience. Jailed for their Communist beliefs, and refusing to renounce their ideology despite torture and intimidation, many of these men spent decades (up to 45 years) in South Korean prisons. Only in the 1990s, with pressure applied from Amnesty International and against the backdrop of democratic reforms, did large numbers of unconverted prisoners gain their freedom. Repatriation begins as the men are released from prison, focusing on their efforts to adapt to South Korean society and their campaign to be repatriated to North Korea. See a Variety review here.

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In Germany there is a French/German broadcast called ARTE with very good documentairies about countries and society for example:

Short ones:
South Korea: Freedom of expression in danger

Dain Yoon a really special make-up artist

Longer ones:
South Korea: The young people run away

Darned to accomplishment

It is interesting to know more about society, art or politics, at least it’s something I am interested in.

It’s possible that you might not be able to see it since German TV is sponsered through taxes and fees.



ARTE has excellent documentaries. It’s one of the best channels on French TV in my opinion with France 5.
On Netflix, I think they have only 1 documentary about South Korea (about a little girl going to a North Korea program? I didn’t watch it yet)
That’s funny because like 1 or 2 weeks ago, I was looking for Japanese and Korean documentaries and added some of what you (Lutra) posted in my YT playlist and it was really interesting!
The playlist I created (but it’s not my videos) has some deleted videos, duplicates I think, I just added some that might interest me but I didn’t watch them all yet. Some videos are in French, some are in English:

And thanks Lutra for making me check Arte website, I didn’t know at all that ARTE still keeps some of their documentaries after 7 or 15 days :open_mouth:

If people are also interested in reading data from Korea (economy, education, innovation, etc., documentaries are based on data):
And here: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/

For reality shows, I wouldn’t put them in the documentary genre but it’s still about “life in Korea” programs:

My Neighbor Charles (on YT from KBS): I watched some of them and it’s about foreigners living in Korea, their struggles, adaptation to traditions in Korea, etc. (for example, there was a French man living in Korea and he was opening a French crepes restaurant and the tradition was to pray/kneel in front of a pig head and give money in the pig’s mouth and pouring soju/alcohol? I forgot, but it was for good fortune for his new restaurant / some of these episodes are really sad, like Korea has a good reputation in their medical field so there were a Russian woman and her child who went there to get cancer treatment)
For those who want to live in South Korea, it’s not a bad idea to watch this show.
Through their eyes, I could have a peek in Korea everyday life but “only their life” and their adaptation in Korea.
So that’s why I went looking for more documentaries on Korea afterward and ARTE documentaries are always really well done so I totally recommend Lutra’s pick because I watched some of them.
In one of the documentaries that I watched, they talked about a book called 'Because I hate Korea" talking about this new generation of Korean but I don’t think this book was translated in English.

There’s also one reality show that could be informative. I only watched a few episodes, it’s called: Abnormal Summit or Non-Summit (JTBC entertainment). It’s like a meeting around a table with foreigners (again) but there are Korean MC. I remember the 1st season was presented like UN meeting XD I wasn’t really seduced by the 1st episodes of S1 (I didn’t like the discrimination feeling about fat/not beautiful women) but apparently, according to my friend, this show got better by S2.

Another show more about Korean problems like “my child doesn’t want to go to school?”, etc. Korean people talk about their daily problems and there are guest stars who try to help citizens to solve their problems. It’s called “Hello counselor” (KBS).

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I really like watching documentairies at ARTE. I don’t know, if you ever had the chance to see “South Korea - The land of many dreams” by Jacques Debs.

I have no trouble listening to French or reading it, it was my first foreign language I took in school, but that is a long time ago. So writing is really (too) difficult now.

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Hier heb je een Nederlands reisverslag.


I’m fond of documentaries (especially about nature, society, etc depends on my mood). When I want to watch a documentary on TV, I always go on ARTE replay first XD I like that we can watch long documentaries or short informative videos like Xenius (25min also on Youtube).
Arte reportage (the show name) is really good, I have to see at what time they broadcast it on their website.
Sometimes, I’m just listening to documentaries while translating The Return of Superman or transcribing on Viki but sometimes it’s quite hard to follow everything so I have to rewind.

For other documentaries on French TV: we have “Envoyé Spécial” and “Capital” (also on Youtube and replay). It’s more like investigations than documentaries but it’s really informative. In the Korea playlist, there’s an Envoyé Spécial about Education in Korea.
German, French and BBC documentaries have a good reputation in the world. In Abnormal Submit Kshow, there was some disagreement between the US representative and the Russian representative about Putin, politics (on this show, they have representatives of many countries). And so one Asian guy who talked about watching a French documentary on Putin intervened and said something relevant.

I think that TED videos are pretty good too. There are some in the Korea playlist. You can watch them on Youtube or on their website. It’s professionals in their field who talks in a conference (science, management, medicine, arts, etc.).
They talk about how to learn a new language for example or to improve your memory (which I need).

I looked for your documentary and I added it to the playlist :slight_smile:
But it’s in French: “La Corée du Sud le pays aux multiples miracles les temples bouddhistes” The name is not really correct but I saw a preview on another website and it’s actually this one “South Korea - The land of many dreams” by Jacques Debs."
I found this documentary less informative than the other ones that I watched so I stopped watching it before the end or it’s more like I was expecting some info quickly and I found them on other documentaries on the playlist :slight_smile:
I will try to watch it fully, the voiceover is really peaceful :slight_smile:

After Korea, I want to watch documentaries about China and Taïwan. I’m making a playlist on Youtube and when I want to watch one, I just pick one in my playlist :slight_smile:
For Japan and Thaïland, I watched a few but I didn’t find a lot on Youtube so I have to look for them on arte website.
If you have suggestions, I will add them to a list :slight_smile:

On Netflix, there are many documentaries (less than movies) but not too many about Asian countries. Last time, I watched “Minimalism” documentary. I’m using Netflix to watch documentaries for the moment.


Actually what I wanted to do with my list was not so much to source documentaries about Korea elsewhere, although it is useful and pleasant too, but more to encourage viki to include Korean documentaries about Korea the country, it’s history and culture and Korean issues. Either government-made videos or independent who of course will be more controversial and offer a different point of view.
Should I make another thread for that? As they may not notice this one?

@irmar Well, I would not mind to see any of them here.
I had a channel once called Yeosu, playing on the island, funded by the tourist ministery and others, but made as a movie, not a documentary. Did you mean that kind of style?

Wow all of a sudden so many replies… let’s check the ones I didn’t see yet :slight_smile:

I don’t know exactly what that was so I cannot answer. But when I say BBC style it’s not just a touristic advertisement: showing the stuff but also doing an in-depth analysis.

@irmar No there was no in-depth analysis, they were telling a story, that could have happened anywhere, but they were using Yeosu as the “stage”, because the EXPO 2012 was taking placet there,