Top 10 Movies in the Domestic Box Office for 2021

2021 Box Office
Credit: Lotte Entertainment, Showbox
2021 Box Office
Credit: Lotte Entertainment, Showbox

Every year, movies that attract 10 million moviegoers were released. But in the face of the persistent COVID-19, even the film industry couldn’t keep up the pace. In 2021, the second year of the pandemic, works that can be called “hit movies” have only mobilized 2 million audiences.

Among the Korean movies released this year, Escape from Mogadishu has mobilized 3.61 million moviegoers. Escape from Mogadishu depicts details of the dangerous escape plan of North and South Korean ambassadors during the Somali Civil War in 1991. It was originally scheduled to be released last year, but due to COVID-19, it was released this summer. In fact, many considered the release of the movie, which cost about 25.5 billion KRW (about $21.5 million) to make, impossible this summer as well. However, ahead of the peak summer season, the KOFIC agreed to fully support the distributors of the two big-budget films, Escape from Mogadishu and Sinkhole, guaranteeing them a 50 percent recovery of the production costs. As a result, the break-even point for Escape from Mogadishu reduced from 6 million to 3 million. In the end, the movie generated profits beyond the break-even point.

In the case of Sinkhole, the original break-even point was about 3 million moviegoers. However, just like Escape from Mogadishu, it has also surpassed the break-even point when it attracted 2 million viewers. Sinkhole begins when a man’s house, which took him 11 years to obtain, falls into a sinkhole in a minute. Cha Seung Won, Lee Kwang Soo, and Kim Sung Kyun starred in the movie.

2021 Box Office
Credit: NEW, CJ Entertainment

Third place went to Hostage: Missing Celebrity, which challenged the box office in the summer alongside Escape from Mogadishu and Sinkhole. It has mobilized more than 1.63 million people. The movie is about Hwang Jung Min, who has been kidnapped without witnesses or any trace on one fine morning. The fact that Hwang Jung Min played the role that has the name and job as he became a hot topic. Rookie actors such as Ryu Kyung Soo and Lee Yu Bi also received attention for their solid performances.

On the Line and Hard Hit landed at No. 4 and No. 5, attracting 1.42 million and 950,000 moviegoers, respectively. On the Line, released during the Chuseok season, is a crime film about voice phishing. Byun Yohan and Kim Mu Yeol starred in the movie. Hard Hit follows a bank branch manager who faces a crisis when he receives a call from an unknown caller, saying, “The moment you get off from the car, a bomb will explode.” Jo Woo Jin played his first leading role in a feature film.

Yumi's Cells

The Medium, the first horror movie to join the summer box office, successfully drew attention and garnered more than 830,000 audiences, ranking sixth on the chart. Miracle: Letters to the President, released in the Chuseok season alongside On the Line, ranked seventh, garnering 710,000 viewers. Among the three Korean films that were released side-by-side in November, Spiritwalker, in which the production team of The Outlaws and Yoon Kye Sang met again, drew more than 800,000 viewers, achieving the best result. Son Seok Koo and Jeon Jong Seo’s rom-com Nothing Serious mobilized 590,000 viewers, while Ryu Seung Ryong’s comedy movie Perhaps Love attracted 510,000 moviegoers.


  1. Escape from Mogadishu 3,613,981 moviegoers
  2. Sinkhole 2,195,673 moviegoers
  3. Hostage: Missing Celebrity – 1,638,437 moviegoers
  4. On the Line – 1,426,357 moviegoers
  5. Hard Hit – 955,809 moviegoers
  6. The Medium – 834,338 moviegoers
  7. Spiritwalker – 808,900 moviegoers
  8. Miracle: Letters to the President – 715,819 moviegoers
  9. Nothing Serious – 596,189 moviegoers
  10. Perhaps Love – 515,111 moviegoers


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Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.


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