A Frozen Flower
|A Frozen Flower|
|Directed by||Yoo Ha|
|Produced by||Lee Tae-heon|
|Written by||Yoo Ha|
|Edited by||Park Gok-ji|
A Frozen Flower (Hangul: 쌍화점; RR: Ssanghwajeom) is a 2008 South Korean film. It is directed by Yoo Ha and stars Jo In-sung, Joo Jin-mo and Song Ji-hyo. The historical film is set during Goryeo Dynasty and is loosely based on the reign of Gongmin of Goryeo (1330–1374), but it does not strictly comply with historical facts. The controversial story is about the characters’ violation of royal family protocol and their pursuit of love.
The King (Joo Jin-mo) of Goryeo is married to a Yuan Dynasty princess (Song Ji-hyo), but they do not have any children. There is constant pressure on the King both from the Yuan emperor and his own counselors to produce a crown prince and ensure the continuity of the royal dynasty. The King's palace guard is composed of thirty six young soldiers, led by military commander Hong-rim (Jo In-sung), who is also the Queen's lover. The King finally decides to charge Hong-rim with a strange commission: copulate the Queen and beget a child. Hong-rim and the Queen are uncomfortable accepting the royal order, but they finally comply. However, their relationship does not stop at procreation, but genuinely true and intense romance soon blossoms between the two, and in this strong and close intimate relationship there is no place for the King.
The two passionate, intimate lovers surpass their "official mission" and continue to meet each other at midnight in the library in secret. The King begins to suspect Hong-rim's infidelity and soon gains evidence through another subordinate. To punish them and to also gauge the depth of Hong-rim's affection for the Queen, the King brings the two together to his chamber. The king tells them that he has decided that the Queen will continue to try and beget an heir, but only with another subordinate. The king remains firm in his decision despite entreaties from both the Queen and Hong-rim.
In despair, the Queen attempts to kill herself by slitting her wrists, but fails. In a last-ditch effort to change the King's mind, Hong-rim asks the Queen to stay away from him, and goes to the King to offer his own life in exchange for forgiveness. The King pardons him, believing Hong-rim's claim that his involvement with the Queen was purely lust. He decides to overlook everything that had happened, and instead orders Hong-rim to go away for a while to clear his mind and settle his emotions.
The night before Hong-rim's departure, the Queen's personal maid secretly informs him that the Queen wishes to meet him one last time. She also bears news that the Queen has finally conceived a child. Hong-rim sneaks out from the King's bedside to meet the Queen in the library. They end up making passionate love in the library, but the King has by now realised what is happening and catches them in flagrante delicto. When the two lovers attempt to save each other by begging the King to "kill me instead," the King realizes how strong their romantic love for each other is. In a jealous rage, he has Hong-rim castrated and sent to prison.
The Queen now realises that the King will eliminate everyone who knows their secret, so she sends her maid to warn Hong-rim's loyal subordinates, and they manage to free Hong-rim from prison and flee the city with him.
Upon learning of the escape, the King demands to know Hong-rim's whereabouts from the Queen, but she refuses to answer. In response, he kills her maid. The King is then informed that the Queen is pregnant, and as the Queen had predicted, he then orders the execution of everyone who knows that he is not the child's father. Only his junior commander, who taken over from Hong-rim, is spared.
Some time later, and having recovered from his wound, Hong-rim realizes that the Queen is still in the palace, and not on the run, as his subordinates were ordered to tell him. Furious, he starts out for the city on horseback, despite their protests, but then he stops in his journey, realizing how futile it would be. However, on returning to the refuge, he finds that his men have been tracked down and captured.
At the palace, the King tortures the subordinates to discover the whereabouts of Hong-rim, but they remain silent, so the King has them killed and their heads are put up on posts on the palace gates, along with that of the Queen's maid. Her head bears the Queen's necklace, in order to trick Hong-rim into believing the queen is dead and forcing him to return to exact revenge. When Hong-rim returns to the city he sees this, and indeed becomes enraged and determines to kill the King. Disguising himself as a soldier, he enters the palace grounds during the celebrations for the Queen's pregnancy and hides out, awaiting his chance to reach the King and kill him.
Meanwhile, as the King returns to his private quarters, he encounters the Queen, but he snubs her, and orders his Junior Commander to escort her back to her room. As the Commander is about to leave the Queen's chamber, she warns him that the King will surely have him killed as soon as the baby is born; she then says that if the Commander assassinates the King, and her father takes over the throne, she will guarantee that his life will be spared. The Junior Commander then calls a meeting of his most trusted subordinates and reveals the truth about the King, the Queen and Hong-rim. However, before they can carry out the Queen's plan, Hong-rim goes into action.
Ignoring the palace guards, who plead with him to leave before he is captured and killed, he fights his way to the King's quarters, cutting down all who oppose him. Reaching the King's chamber, Hong-rim confronts the King and demands that he fight him. An intense duel ensues, during which Hong-rim slashes the through the King's favourite painting, which depicts him and Hong-rim hunting together. As the desperate duel continues, the Junior Commander and his men arrive (their intentions not entirely clear) but the King orders them not to intervene, and the Junior Commander holds them back and awaits the outcome of the fight. At the climax of the duel, the King manages to break Hong-rim's sword, and stabs him in the shoulder. While Hong-rim is pinned by his sword, the King asks him a last question: whether or not Hong-rim had ever felt love for him. Hong-rim replies 'no'. Hearing this, the King is shocked, giving Hong-rim time to throw himself forward on the blade and kill the King with the shard of his own sword.
As the King dies, Hong-rim staggers to his feet, pulls the King's sword from his shoulder and charges at the guards, but he is fatally stabbed by the Junior Commander. Moments later the Queen comes upon the scene with the guards at her heels, trying to hold her back. Horrified, she tearfully calls out for Hong-rim. As she is taken away by the guards, Hong-rim realizes that the king had not killed her after all. He turns his head from her and dies facing the king, his eyes filled with realization of the King's test. The Junior Commander then declares that the King has been killed by an assassin, and he orders his men to quickly remove the bodies, and to tell no-one of what has transpired.
The final scenes of the film show a flashback to when the King showed young Hong-rim the view of the city and asked if Hong-rim wished to live together, to which the young Hong-rim replied "Yes." The film ends on a montage of the King and Hong-rim happily hunting together, referring back to a dream the King once had, as depicted in the King's painting.
- Jo In-sung as Hong-rim
- Joo Jin-mo as King
- Song Ji-hyo as Queen
- Shim Ji-ho as Seung-gi
- Lim Ju-hwan as Han-baek
- Yeo Wook-hwan as Im-bo
- Song Joong-ki as No-tak
- Jang Ji-won as Bo-deok
- Kim Choon-gi as Eunuch Hwang
- Lee Jong-goo as Tae-sa
- Kwon Tae-won as Jo Il-moon
- Do Young-goo as Gi Won-hong
- Ko In-beom as Yeon Ki-mok
- No Min-woo as Min-woo
- Do Ye-seong as Choi Kwan
- Yeo Jin-goo as young Hong-rim
- Lee Poong-woon as young King
- Seo Young-joo as young Han-baek
According to historical records, after the death of his Mongolian-born queen, Noguk, King Gongmin descended into a life of homosexual debauchery, hiring a team of handsome male bodyguards of noble birth to serve in the palace in 1372. When one of the bodyguards made King Gongmin’s second wife pregnant, Gongmin tried to kill him to quell the scandal, but was killed by the bodyguard’s friends instead. But some historians disagree with this account, insisting that Gongmin was slandered in an attempt to justify the founding of the Joseon Dynasty, and that the youths were just bodyguards.
A Frozen Flower takes its title from a song of that era which described the sexual relationships between men and women. It is the fifth feature film by director Yoo Ha, who wanted to make a change from his previous works by doing a historical film, saying, "I always felt uncomfortable with the genre but I felt I should try to overcome those feelings. It is also a new challenge for me to focus on a melodrama." He also stated that the film was "a love story between men."
Jo In-sung was on board from the beginning of the project, and turned down other acting roles to make A Frozen Flower his last work before enlisting for military service. He chose to appear in the film without knowing the exact details, having faith in the director following their earlier collaboration in 2005 on A Dirty Carnival. Jo began training for the role in August 2007, learning martial arts, fencing, horse riding and geomungo. The casting of Joo Jin-mo as the king was announced in December 2007.
Awards and nominations
- Best Art Direction - Kim Ki-cheol
- Best Music - Kim Jun-seok
- Nomination - Best Costume Design
- Nomination - Best Cinematography
- Nomination - Best Art Direction - Kim Ki-cheol
- Nomination - Best Visual Effects
- 2010 Fantasporto
- Orient Express Section Special Jury Award - Yoo Ha
- List of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender-related films by year
- List of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender-related films by storyline
- "Box office by Country: A Frozen Flower. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-06-04
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- Song Won-seop. "Homosexuality in history". Korea JoongAng Daily. 10 January 2009.
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- Yang Sung-jin. "'Ssanghwajeom' barely avoids trap". The Korea Herald. 4 April 2010.
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- "Popularity of Song Ji-hyo's 'A Frozen Flower' Yet to Thaw". Chosun Ilbo. 26 January 2009. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
- Moon Seok. "Count on the Autumn Harvest!". Korean Film Observatory #26, pp. 36. Korean Film Council, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-30
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- Han Sunhee. "Yoo Ha takes on 'Frozen'". Variety. 11 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-01
- Han Sunhee. "Jeonju unveils studio and prod'n incentives". Variety. 1 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-01
- "Frozen Flower Sold to 7 Countries at Berlin" KBS Global. 17 February 2009. Retrieved 2011-11-11
- Official website (Korean)
- A Frozen Flower at HanCinema
- A Frozen Flower at the Internet Movie Database