The 2008 world championâ€™s time of 1m35.820 at the Korean International Circuit in Yeongam was 0.222 faster than Red Bullâ€™s Sebastian Vettel, who clinched a successive world championship six days ago at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Jenson Button was third quickest in the other McLaren after a mistake on the last corner prevented him from locking out the front row.
â€œIâ€™m happy to be here and very proud of what the team has been able to achieve over the course of the last few races,â€ Hamilton said.
â€œFor Jenson to win the last race and for us to be on the front again and the only ones competing with Red Bull, Iâ€™m very happy.
â€œThroughout the year, I donâ€™t think my qualifying performances have been too bad, itâ€™s only in the last two races that I didnâ€™t manage to get my final run in Q3, so todayâ€™s result wasnâ€™t entirely unexpected.â€
So dominant was the MP4-26, a McLaren topped all three practice sessions, while Hamilton was quickest in all three qualifying sessions to secure his 19th pole, and first since Canada last year, for what will be the teamâ€™s 700th Formula 1 grand prix.
â€œWeâ€™ve been quick as a team and never stopped making improvements to the car,â€ Hamilton added. â€œIâ€™m so, so proud of all the men and women both here at the circuit and back at Woking whoâ€™ve worked so hard to get us back to where we want to be.
â€œOf course, pole position is still only the first step, particularly when we know that tomorrowâ€™s race will be long and unpredictable. Pole is always a great achievement and Iâ€™m particularly proud to have achieved it at the teamâ€™s 700th Formula 1 grand prix.â€
Red Bull were aiming for a record 16th pole in a single season, with Vettel quickest in qualifying 12 times this season, but McLaren built on their performance at Suzuka to dominate proceedings this weekend.
With tyre wear for the race expected to cause teams problems, Red Bull were happy to take the unusual approach of using an extra set of option tyres in qualifying in order to keep the primes for Sundayâ€™s race.
â€œMcLaren looked competitive yesterday and though the conditions were completely different today, they were a fair chunk ahead of everyone including us,â€ Vettel said.
â€œIn the dry this morning they were extremely quick, but once again we pushed them very hard in qualifying, perhaps more than they expected, and we did a good job in qualification.”
Vettelâ€™s team-mate Mark Webber was fourth quickest after aborting his final lap, with Ferrari team-mates Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso fifth and sixth, over a second down on Hamiltonâ€™s time.
Mercedesâ€™ Nico Rosberg, who was fined on Friday for causing an avoidable collision during free practice, took seventh, 1.934s slower than Hamilton and ahead of Renaultâ€™s Vitaly Petrov, who was the only other driver to set a time in Q3.
Force India maintained their impressive form ahead of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in two weeksâ€™ time by reaching the final qualifying session again, but only Paul di Resta ventured out of the garage to place himself ninth, ahead of team-mate Adrian Sutil who rounded out the top 10.
Troubled by a tyre vibration on his last lap, Mercedesâ€™ Michael Schumacher will start the race 12th, between the two Toro Rossos, with Jaime Alguersuari ahead of him after di Resta pipped him in the closing stages of Q2.
Renaultâ€™s Bruno Senna was a disappointing 0.6s down on team-mate Petrov in Q2 leaving him 15th behind Sauberâ€™s Kamui Kobayashi, but ahead of rookies Pastor Maldonado and Sergio PÃ©rez. Maldonado squeezed out team-mate Rubens Barrichello in the closing stages of Q1 to leave the Brazilian 17th on the grid.
At the back, Lotus, Virgin Racing, and HRT were familiarly uncompetitive, with Lotusâ€™ Heikki Kovalainenâ€™s best lap three seconds off Hamiltonâ€™s Q1 time enough for 18th, while HRTâ€™s Tonio Liuzzi was 6.233s slower than Hamilton as his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo failed to set a time due to a technical problem.
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren-Mercedes 1min 35.820secs
2 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull-Renault 1:36.042
3 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.126
4 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 1:36.468
5 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:36.831
6 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:36.980
7 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:37.754
8 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:38.124
9 Paul Di Resta (Gbr) Force India-Mercedes 1:38.254
10 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India-Mercedes 1:38.219
11 Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:38.315
12 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:38.354
13 Sebastien Buemi (Swi) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:38.508
14 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber 1:38.775
15 Brz Bruno Senna (Bra) Renault 1:38.791
16 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams-Cosworth 1:39.189
17 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber 1:39.443
18 Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Williams-Cosworth 1:39.538
19 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus-Renault 1:40.522
20 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Lotus-Renault 1:41.101
21 Timo Glock (Ger) Virgin-Cosworth 1:42.091
22 Jerome d’Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin-Cosworth 1:43.483
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) Hispania-Cosworth 1:43.758
24 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Hispania-Cosworth no time
MORE: The latest football news
MORE: The latest tennis news