After losing her husband, a woman relocates to a small-town called Miryang for a new start.
Ha Jeong-woo, Kim Min-hee, Gong Yoo, Jeong Yu-mi and others are attending the 69th Cannes International Film Festival.
The same goes for "The Shameless" which was invited to the 68th Cannes International Film Festival for its potential. Subscribe to HanCinema Pure to remove ads from the website (not for episode and movie videos) for US$2.99 per month (you can cancel anytime). The first step is to be a member, please click here : Sign up, then a subscribe button will show up. Such is the motivation of some characters in South Korean films whose search for revenge is very tight to a sort of righteousness behind his or her actions, no matter how extreme the consequences might be. In the list below are the finest examples of “revenge cinema” of South Korea with great names such as Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-duk, Jee-woon Kim, Bong Joon-ho, among others. The premise of this film is born from a man’s obsession for a young woman, which pushes him to abduct her and force her into prostitution in a very dangerous game.
Han-ki is a street pimp who one day comes across with a pretty and privileged college girl, Sun-hwa; he sits next to her on a bench where the girl waits for her boyfriend. Eventually some soldiers come to action and separate the man from Sun-hwa who spits right on his face as a repulsion gesture and a sort of goodbye.
It is no coincidence that director Kim Ki-duk made it twice on the list with “Bad Guy” and “Pieta”. As result of this, his wife goes to Korea in order to earn money and send it back, but he does not hear from her again. This movie does not have an obvious quest for revenge, but it centers on the need of a mother to get even at someone after all the pain and grief she’s experienced in her life. The story opens up with Lee Shin-ae who, after the death of her husband, decides to move with her only child to the small town of Miryang. A very, very dramatic film and unconventional choice but serves for the same quest and the necessity of getting even at someone to forget a major loss. Kim Sun-woo works for Kang, the crime boss of a Korean gangster organization, and for whom he feels great respect and unquestionable loyalty.
However, his humanity will be put to the test when his boss asks him to watch over his young mistress and to prove if she is having an affair, in which case he is ordered to kill her. Afterwards, Sun-woo is captured by a group who he initially thinks are commanded by one of his enemies, Mr. The story follows two women, Hae Won and Bok Nam, who after years of separation reunite again when Hae Won decides to go to the island of Moo Doo for vacations.
Eventually, Bok Nam shares with her friend her intention to leave with her daughter in order to escape from the abuse she has received along the years from everyone around her. There is a consequentialist standpoint on this film that elevates the premise of the ends justify the means.
It helps that the two main characters are so good-looking: the 38 year-old Lee Mi-sook, with nearly 20 years in the industry, and the well-sculpted 20-something Lee Jeong-jae, in one of his earliest features.
Looking at my notes when I originally saw it, I gave it a surprisingly precise 8.5 out of 10. But somehow the things which engaged my interest or even shocked me the first time round didn’t really register when I re-watched it last week. Maybe when she asked the pastor to take her for a drive she wasn’t plotting an act of vengeance. Whether or not you enjoy a film depends of course on the quality of the film itself, but also the circumstances in which you watch it. We’re now half way through the E J-yong month at the KCC, with Untold Scandal and Actresses to come. I saw An Affair in an Edinburgh International Film Festival in the late 1990s (or maybe 2000) and was very impressed by it.
I have had the opportunity to watch major of E J Yong filmography courtesy of KCC, then the unforgetable pleasure of meeting Mr Yong himself, albeit he was jet lag and very tired at the time. Another debut – today is the first day of the Pojang kimbab stall at Druid Street Market in Bermondsey. The V+A has put together a short video of Yiyun Kang’s residency, with footage from the two performances of her work in the Cast Courts. Joo Yeon Sir makes her Royal Festival Hall debut with the Palladio Orchestra of London at the invitation of Sir Karl Jenkins, performing his work Lament for the Valley on Friday 6 May 7.30PM. I agree with one of the other commentators that the movie also seemed to be an updated version of the Book of Job. Shin-ae also learns that God is there in the silence (a la Elijah on the mountain, God is in the silence). I thought that his holding the mirror was an apt closing image for the discourse of 'pretense' and allusion that was a recurring theme in the movie. I’m not even going to lie and pretend I’m some sort of film critic, just a 16 year old with an appreciation for movies. Though I must say, the continuous chain of misfortunes was somewhat too much for me to bear, and it left a bitter taste once the credits came. I see a lot of people complaining about the runtime, but i still think this would be better with some more background, maybe reaching 160min. I see no reason why the director would do this, the things left unexplained are not philosophical or thought provoking ideas, they are just simple background stories that could add more if they were explained.
You can see them as flaws but i think the director wanted the viewer to work these things out on his own. I get your idea with “The Stranger”, but like most of Camus books, it is a philosophical statement.
Very few directors (or auteurs) are successful when working with the level of abstraction needed to present something like “The Stranger’s” plot.
I completely agree with you that Jeon Do-Yeon’s acting was needed, and the movie would suffer a lot without it and without Song Kang-Ho’s supporting role to balance it. It is not that i think it is surreal, but it is too much (real and honest situations), being shown without empathy enough. Questions like “Was she seeing herself in the murderer’s daughter?”, “Did she compare the murderer behavior towards his daughter with her own father’s attitude towards herself?”, “If so, why she never ever helped his daughter and was so angry with her?”, “Every normal person with debts is a potential danger?”, “Bad parent, good killer (there is definitely not a normal murder, it asks for a certain degree of sociopathy)?”.
There is an interesting idea left as well, she is so overwhelmed with this feeling of helplessness and loneliness (from God), that she fails to perceive the amount of people helping and behaving as friends, mostly Jong-Chan. I think we’re on similar paths but you prefer more “cohesive” and “conscise”, while I like a bit of ambiguity in the mix as well. I dont agree with your description that Secret Sunshine was just a tour de force vehicle for Jeon Do-Yeon.
The amount of grief the main character went through was brutal, but I didn’t find it to be unrealistic or a drawback to the film.
With the religious aspect of the film, I thought it worked well, in a similiar manner as Albert Camus’ “The Stranger”. Indeed, yours is a positive look into the movie plot, and i actually agree with you, my criticism is actually about the amazing amount of disgrace that happens with just one single person. But i believe that the message is, at least in part, freeing yourself from any grudge to become better. Oasis is indeed a love story, but it is more about communication and it explores it so perfectly and in a cohesive sympathetic way. Don’t get me wrong, i think the movie is great, but lacks cohesion and conciseness that would make it better, IMO. I just hope that Lee Chang-dong will make more technically great movies closer to Oasis style.

As stated in the review, an important segment that may tell you what Lee Chang-dong is thinking are the two brief scenes with the shop owner.
I watched this one only once at a screening in Korea the day before the offical release, so my recollection isn’t as clear as it was back then…but those points have stayed in my mind. Do-yeon Jeon acting is outstanding, but her character is unsympathetic and sometimes annoying, as the movie. The movie story is quite mature, honest and true, leaving the feeling of something Hong Sang Soo would write, but in a more “commercial” or maybe “mainstream” way. But, in the end, it is a great movie, not as good as Oasis (which i also think has a better acting by both leading actors), but still very recommended due to the original story and technical quality.
It's no secret Do-yeon Jeon is a wonderful actress, just reference her performance in "You Are My Sunshine" or "My Mother Is A Mermaid" as proof. Meanwhile, Kang-ho Song seems to get better and better with each movie that he performs in.
The structure of the story itself is unusual in that it flows in an unexpected nature, starts off as a romantic drama, then a thriller, then turns into one lady's descent into her own heart of darkness. Secret Sunshine is a movie that will likely stay in your mind for days after seeing the movie. When tragedy strikes, one local man stands by her through all of her struggles and tries to offer her hope. This year, director Park Chan-wook's "The Handmaiden", Director Na Hong-jin's "The Wailing" and director Yeon Sang-ho's "Train to Busan" will be featured at the CIFF Midnight Screening.
Jeon Do-yeon won the Best Actress at Cannes in 2007 for "Secret Sunshine" and "The Shameless" was her fourth visit to Cannes.
In previous decades, the inclination of the market to produce gory thrilling movies about vengeance has triumphed to capturing a great part of the Asian world and international audiences as well. The visceral way to portrait murder versus the morals behind those actions allows for empathizing and even justifying a character’s life decision. In order to restore balance they must accomplish their vengeance to be able to transcend to a new level of existence. All succeeded in creating believable stories full of drama that go straight to the human core, and where the ultimate quest for vengeance will force them to confront their own demons: once a killer, always a killer.
Little did she know that this was far from being the end; that was just the opening to a relationship waiting to take a startling twist. He is an excellent example of modern Korean cinema and elevates through his works complex themes as society, morals, violence, hate, love, sex and humanity in general.
From then on, his life only gets worse until one day he meets a hit man who proposes a simple “job” to repay his debt and recover his wife. In her way to recover from loss, she will find God but none of her prayers will find answers, which leads her to a bittersweet feeling of vengeance to something greater than her. Along the way she will find a mechanic named Kim Jong-chan that will help her fix her broken car, and soon they will build up some sort of relationship. But Sun-woo’s duty gets compromised when his feelings enter in the game, and clouded with emotion, he hesitates on report to Kang after he comes to discovers Hee-soo’s lover in her own home. After the amazing “Tale of Two Sisters”, this is a very solid work in Kim Jee-woon’s career, full of action and thrilling moments. The rightness or wrongness of Bok Nam’s actions is subjective and associated with the moral perspective of society in severe circumstances: an extreme situation calls for extreme measures. It’s one of my favourite movies of the past 10 years but I would hardly classify it as revenge. I caught it at the 2001 London Korean Film Festival (yes, there have been Korean Film Festivals in London that far back and maybe even further) and was immediately bowled over by its beauty. And the love scenes are so sensitively filmed that you can believe in the emotions of the two characters.
But 10 years on, were my memories of the film clouded by the fact that I’ve had a secret crush on Lee Mi-sook ever since?
And maybe the picnic mat that the pastor had in the boot of his car was simply that, and not a convenient mattress to be used whenever he had one-on-ones with female members of his flock. Her husband has recently passed away and she has decided to start life anew back in the hometown of her deceased husband.
As Shin-Ae must deal with another devastating tragedy in her life, she attempts to find answers and a light that can shine upon her dark life. Then after Lee Chang-Dong's resignation as Korea's Minister of Culture Tourism he began working on "Secret Sunshine" in earnest. The main character intentionally gives the impression of having more money than she does in actuality, even going to the trouble of viewing land that she has no real intention of buying. The boy's teacher is shown to lead the children through many lessons highlighting moral courage and character when he is actually a terrible child abductor and murderer. The evangelical church that, at first, seems to offer Shin-ae so much hope, then is proven to also offer the murderer a 'cheap grace'. Hypocrisy is also highlighted in the scene when she plays the song "LIES" during the outdoor prayer service. Shin-ae's conversation about God with the Pharmacist revolves around the theme of appearances (what can be seen) and what is not seen. The conversion experience when Shin-ae is born again, is one where there is a very very strong wind, resembling God who speaks out of the whirlwind. In her misery (after she pulls away from the church and she is shown lying there in the quiet in the hospital.
It suggested to me that she was starting over, and there was some hint that she was going to 'give' in to the so-called friendship (bordering on stalking!) with Kim the mechanic. Here, she who was critical of other people's hypocrisy in this new town (miryang), is then shown a mirror that shows her that she herself is no different, no better than them. Secret Sunshine was defnitely a nice introduction to independent films, and it’s a pleasant change from the over the top blockbusters hollywood throws at my face. It looks more like pressure from the production company to cut the runtime a bit, leaving the movie more “watchable” or commercial.
So, it is not actually about the story of a single real person, but an idealization, an abstract reality made to represent an statement.
Andrei Tarkovsky and Bela Tarr are quite excellent with this, but its their style as well, and if you compare they are completely different from “Secret Sunshine”, although all of them explore this feeling of abandonment from God. But that is exactly what i was trying to point, the movie is dependent on her role, and centered at it. The flow is too fast and raw; i couldn’t cry a single tear or even have the feeling i would. Obviously you can speculate about all this, but what i mean is that the movie rushed over all this and many more questions.
As most people who suffer those kinds of breakdowns, they seem to go through a battery of traumatic situations not just one singular moment. In fact after all the tragedy occurred to Shin-Ae, her then emotional evolvement paralleled Mersualt’s from the Stranger in a near quid pro quo fashion.
It is true that her psychological state makes her more prone to religiosity, something the movie also tries to explore. The interior of the store has now been painted white by the owner … and she’s smiling with happiness that she didn’t have before when the store’s interior was black. Nothing brings an uproar faster than the topic of religion and Secret Sunshine doesn't hold back in questioning the existence of God or critiquing the role of religion in society.
The director of the film, Chang-dong Lee, is highly regarded in Korea for his three prior films "Oasis" "Peppermint Candy" and "Green Fish." Chang-dong Lee's prior film "Oasis" brought the director international acclaim, wining the prestigious Director's Award at the 2003 Venice Film Festival. Yet, the brevity of pain she was able to express during her descent into darkness in "Secret Sunshine" was something to absolutely marvel at.

The story was utterly riveting, while the performances by Do-yeon Jeon and Kang-ho Song were nothing short of brilliant.
There is no need for promoting her stardom as she herself induces curiosity about a movie and builds trust.
So, when her boyfriend actually arrives, the man jumps and forces a kiss on Sun-hwa who desperately tries to avoid it.
Everything seems to be going good until Lee Shin-ae’s son is kidnapped one day and an ocean of tragedies push the woman to the limit of reason. From that point on, he is submitted to a spiral of brutality, violence and torture that will not only take his hand away but his very perception of the world he has been living all of those years. As Bok Nam intends to make her plan work, a dramatic change of events pushes her to take sickle and finally take vengeance on her hands. When I first saw An Affair over 10 years ago the only other Korean films I had seen to compare the sex scenes were Jang Sun-woo’s Lies and one or two Hong Sang-soo films, so An Affair was a useful counterbalance which assured me that, yes, Koreans could make love as if they actually liked each other. Was it really just one of those syrupy romantic melodramas which the Korean film and TV industry churns out so efficiently?
When I saw it at the BFI London Film Festival in 2007 I had high expectations, and I was not disappointed. I thought it was well-done, both for the acting, but also for the many levels in which the unifying themes of the movie emerged. She also lavishly spends money on a dinner and karaoke outing to entertain new friends, with money that she does not really have. His speech is all about what a wonderful doting mother he has, but we from what we can see in the actual movie, we know that she is basically not really doting. She had put on a show of forgiving the murderer, but then when she actually saw the murderer, it seems that she really wanted to see how much he was suffering in prison. She is the only one who has been known clearly for what she is is, and she is the one whom Shin-ae sees in the hair salon. In this reading, the pharmacist and the church-goers serve as 'Job's friends" who all offer what is ultimately an unsatisfying explanation for life's sufferings.
She continually resisted his advances-- I thought this was because she assumed that she was 'better' or a little more sophisticated than him; but the closing image at the end suggested that she realied that she was no better (focus on the 'muddy' puddle in the back yard and the untidy yard). She also lacks integrity for her own efforts to project a false image of herself as somehow better than them. That is why the conception of an abstract idea that “The Stranger” presents is difficult to be achieved with such a strong and real personification. She moves to a small city looking for peace then her son is kidnapped and murdered, while she loses every single penny she has saved. In the beginning she refuses and even becomes a bit angry when invited to church, then later she throws herself completely into it. Oasis as a love story of the unexpected kind, while Secret Sunshine tells a devastating story of one woman’s descent into darkness.
Oasis is an amazing movie, while being very technical it is still very sympathetic, something “Secret Sunshine” lacks.
While a very sinister dissection of Shin-ae’s life is done, a collection of criticism towards so many things is brought up, like church, friendship, relationships, trust… in the end it looks like the plot becomes a bit pointless.
Shortly after the release of "Oasis," Chang-dong Lee was even appointed as Korea's minister of culture and tourism. During the final portions of the movie my hands were literally clenched to the armrests, out of this gripping fear of what she could possibly do next. Vengeance," it seems Kang-ho Song plays nice characters that are bumbling in nature, but able to conquer whatever obstacles are placed in his way.
Some clues to what Chang-dong Lee may have tried to convey upon the audience can be revealed (without giving away the crux of the movie) by two brief scenes that occurred at the beginning and end of the film. Questions that are often asked internally, but not as often asked in films, were boldly asked in Secret Sunshine. An extra-marital affair is never inevitable to start with, but once commenced this film portrays its development with complete honesty and naturalness.
And when I came to drawing up my list of top 10 Korean films of the noughties Milyang was a serious contender for the list. She is able to get the local mechanic in Milyang named Jong-Xhan (Song Kang-Ho) to come out to her car and start it once again. For me, it highlighted the theme of hypocrisy and false appearances, even among those who protest the use of false appearances. She plays piano for the chairman, but then her performance comes to a screeching halt when she must admit that she is not as good as she was made out to be. She is just the same; all of the characters are hypocritical and operate on false allusions-- she just becomes self-aware of her own false allusions at the end when she looks into the mirror. Than, her family kinda turns against her saying she is a bad omen… she becomes a more dark person… so many stereotypes that you can actually write 10 different movies. Notice the words Shin-Ae imparts on the boutqiue owner “if you change the interior you’ll likely have more customers”. His character in Secret Sunshine followed this motif somewhat, but during a scene towards the end of the film, I literally jumped out of my seat when he displayed an unexpected fit of rage.
When Shin-ae first came to Milyang, she went around town to solicit business for her piano lessons. The answers were never clearly revealed in the film, but left to be answered internally by the viewer themselves. Although they come from different social backgrounds, the pair hits it off and seems to find comfort in each other’s presence.
That Miryang is just like everyone else (ie that everyone, including those people from Seoul) are all engaging in false-pretences is emphasized in the beginning and the end when Kim the Mechanic says that Miryang is just the same as all other cities.
Both dynamite performances in my opinion, but not fair to call out one but not the other as they are of the same quality. Those words of wisdom are something Shin-Ae would have to apply with her own life once it spins out of control.
In Oasis, Moon So-Ri amazed with her unforgettable portrayal of a young lady afflicted with cerebral palsy. As a testament to his performance, horror movies never made me jump up from my seat, but Kang-ho Song certainly did.
She walked into a small clothing boutique and struck up a brief conversation with the owner of the store. Similar to Moon So-Ri's memorable performance in Oasis, Secret Sunshine has Do-yeon Jeon giving a performance that is equal to, if not more, powerful. Yet, the manner in which his character was portrayed, you couldn't help to think that he was indeed a real life angel in Shin-Ae's life. The owner seemed to hold a grim internal mood, hidden somewhat by her stiff exterior expression. The boutique itself seemed to get very little business, while the interior of the store was painted all black.
Shin-Ae gently smiled and offered this tip to the boutique owner before walking out, "If you change the interior to a brighter color, people will likely feel more comfortable and want to come into your store." At the end of the movie, the boutique owner had indeed re-designed the interior of her store, with the walls painted all in white.
When the shop owner saw Shin-Ae, she smiled and laughed with happiness that she did not possess in her earlier scene.

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