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Theatrical poster
Hanja 西便
Revised Romanization Seopyeonje
McCune–Reischauer Sŏp'yŏnje
Directed by Im Kwon-taek
Produced by Lee Tae-won
Written by Kim Myung-gon
Based on Seopyeonje 
by Lee Cheong-jun
Starring Oh Jeong-hae
Kim Myung-gon
Kim Gyoo-cheol
Music by Kim Soo-chul
Cinematography Jeong Il-seong
Edited by Park Soon-deok
Park Gok-ji
Distributed by Taehung Pictures
Release dates
  • 10 April 1993 (1993-04-10)
Running time
112 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean

Seopyeonje (Hangul: 서편제) is a 1993 South Korean musical drama film directed by Im Kwon-taek. Its story tells of a family of traditional Korean pansori singers trying to make a living in the modern world. The film was originally expected to only draw limited interest, and was released on only one screen in Seoul. At the height of its popularity, it was shown on only three screens at once in the entire city of over 10 million.[1] Nevertheless it ended up breaking box-office records and became the first Korean film to draw over a million viewers in Seoul alone. When it was released, Sopyonje's success also increased interest in pansori among modern audiences. The film was acclaimed critically, both in South Korea and abroad, getting screened in Cannes Film Festival and winning six Grand Bell Awards and six Korean Film Critics' Awards.

Im Kwon-taek also used pansori as a narrative tool in his later films Chunhyang (2000), based on the popular Korean story Chunhyangga, and Beyond the Years (2007), an informal sequel to Sopyonje.


In a jumak (a tavern) on a small pass called Soritjae of Boseong County, South Jeolla Province,[2] during the early 1960s, Dong-ho who is in his 30s, recalls his past as he is listening to a rendition of "pansori" sung by the jumak owner.[3] Dong-ho and his sister were raised by the pansori singer Yu-bong, who treats them sternly and with a strict training regimen in his attempts to make serious artists of them as Yu-bong feels that a truly great pansori artist must suffer. Eventually Dong-ho runs away but his sister stays behind.[4] Some critics have stated that this movie glorifies the father's patriarchal power as he seeks to limit his daughter's sexuality.[5] However, most believe that the pansori singer is symbolic for (South) Korea, transcending a history of suffering to achieve greatness.[6]


  1. ^ Kim, Kyung-hyun (2004). "9. 'Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves': Transgressive Agents, National Security, and Blockbuster Aesthetics in Shiri and Joint Security Area". The Remasculinization of Korean Cinema. Durham and London: Duke University Press. p. 270. ISBN 0-8223-3267-1. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Lopate, Phillip. "Movies: About Sopyonje". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  5. ^ The Remasculinisation of Korean Cinema, by Kyung Kim
  6. ^


Preceded by
Our Twisted Hero
Blue Dragon Film Award for Best Film
Succeeded by
The Taebaek Mountains
Preceded by
Our Twisted Hero
Chunsa Film Art Awards for Best Film
Succeeded by
The Taebaek Mountains
Preceded by
Fly High Run Far
Grand Bell Award for Best Film
Succeeded by
The Story of Two Women