Sunny (2011 film)

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Theatrical poster
Revised Romanization Sseoni
McCune–Reischauer Ssŏni
Directed by Kang Hyeong-cheol
Produced by Ahn Byeong-ki
An In-gi
Written by Kang Hyeong-cheol
Starring Shim Eun-kyung
Kang Sora
Yoo Ho-jeong
Jin Hee-kyung
Music by Kim Joon-seok
Cinematography Lee Hyeong-deok
Edited by Nam Na-yeong
Distributed by CJ E&M
Release dates
  • 4 May 2011 (2011-05-04)
Running time 124 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean
Box office ₩54,034,324,100

Sunny (Hangul: 써니; RR: Sseoni) is a South Korean film about a middle-aged woman who tries to fulfill her friend's dying wish of reuniting their group of high school friends. The film alternates between two timelines: the present day where the women are middle-aged, and the 1980s when they were in high school. It is the second film by director-screenwriter Kang Hyeong-cheol, who directed Scandal Makers.[2] Released on 4 May 2011, the film was the first of that year to sell five million tickets in South Korea,[citation needed] and became the second highest grossing Korean film by year's end.[1] As of 20 September 2012, it is the 13th highest grossing Korean film by admissions sold in South Korean history. The movie won Best Director and Best Editing at the Daejong Film Awards. Actress Kang Sora won several awards for her role as the teenage Ha Chun-hwa.


Im Na-mi (Yoo Ho-jeong), a wealthy housewife and mother, does her daily routine. While things look perfect on the outside (wonderful home, generous husband, beautiful daughter), she is depressed about her life. When she washes her face, she sees wrinkles on her skin. When she asks her husband to visit her mother at the hospital, he replies by giving her money to buy luxury bags, and her daughter expresses similar indifference and annoyance. In the mornings, Na-mi eats breakfast alone while father and daughter head to work and school, respectively. She looks outside and notices a group of high school girls who are walking and laughing.

After visiting her mother, Na-mi passes a patient's room with a placard "Ha Chun-hwa", and thinks about her high school life. She asks her chauffeur to take her to the all-girls high school she attended in Seoul. As she walks toward the school, a high school girl bumps into her and apologizes respectfully. Shortly after, a second girl bumps into her, but she is not as courteous. She wears a bright, yellow sweater, in fact, all of the girls are now wearing colorful sweaters and bright pants, as the setting is now the 1980s with Na-mi (Shim Eun-kyung) as a teenager.

At class, the girls are dusting records and admiring posters of American actors. Many of the girls are wearing American athletic shoe brands. The teacher enters and introduces Na-mi. The students make fun of her country accent, and she becomes embarrassed of her shoes and clothing. After the teacher leaves, two girls sit around timid Na-mi, and bully her. As their remarks turn vicious, a large Adidas bag hits one of them on the head. The girl turns around, ready to lash out, but when she sees who it is, she immediately apologizes, and returns to her seat.

The girl who threw the bag is Ha Chun-hwa (Kang Sora), who introduces Na-mi to her group of friends: Kim Jang-mi is a portly girl who is obsessed with her looks, and desires comestic surgery for her eyes. Hwang Jin-hee, the daughter of a Korean literature professor, swears profusely.[3] Seo Geum-ok is a bright student who wants to become a writer; she will hit anyone who messes with her friends. Ryu Bok-hee has dreams of becoming Miss Korea; she carries a small hand mirror and makes faces to herself.[4] Jung Su-ji is a quiet, mysterious beauty; whenever she speaks to Na-mi, it is always with disdain.[note 1] Na-mi is accepted into their group as their seventh member, after she unexpectedly proves herself against a rival group from a different school when she uses her diabetes as a front for spirit possession. Chun-hwa suggests naming their group; they settle on "Sunny", after a nighttime radio DJ responds to their letter on air. During this time Na-mi meets Oh Jun ho, a friend of Jang mi's brother. She is instantly enamored with him. Throughout the movie you get flashbacks of the time the two spent together while he becomes Na mi's first love.

Back at the present time, Na-mi returns to Chun-hwa's room and confirms it is indeed her high school friend. She learns that Chun-hwa (Jin Hee-kyung) became a successful businesswoman, but has terminal cancer with two months to live. Na-mi's husband calls, and informs her that he is on a two-month business trip. As Na-mi leaves, she promises she will visit often; Chun-hwa then tells her she would like to see Sunny reunited one more time before she dies.[4]

Na-mi hires a private detective to find the members of Sunny. Jang-mi is struggling as a life insurance sales agent. The foul-mouthed Jin-hee married rich, but her husband cheats, and she pretends to be ladylike. Geum-ok is unemployed and living in a cramped apartment with her overbearing sister-in-law, her sister-in-law's husband, and a newborn. After her mother's salon went bankrupt, Bok-hee had resorted to prostitution; her daughter lives at a shelter. The detective notes that Su-ji has been exceptionally difficult to find; he recommends posting a newspaper ad. Na mi also ask the detectives to search for Jun Ho. Eventually he is found and Na mi goes to visit him. While on her way to see him you flash back to the time the group of friends go on a trip together that included Jun ho. While on the bus Na mi draws a picture of Jun ho. She later goes in search of him with the intention to give him the picture. When she finds him she is socked to see him and Su ji kiss. She leaves in tears and does not give him the picture. Now as an adult she goes to the shop Jun ho owns and sees Jun hos son which is a replica of the younger Jun ho. She then gives the now older Jun ho the drawing, and by doing so she is able to let go of her first love.

Chun-hwa passes away before the group manages to get together, but by finding each other, the women rekindle their passion for life and enjoy each other's company. At one point Chun-hwa, Na- mi, Jang- mi and Jin-hee get together to get revenge on the group of girls that are bullying Na-mi's daughter. At Chun-hwa's funeral, Sunny (minus Su-ji), is reunited, but not every woman knows about each other's present struggles. As they are about to leave, Chun-hwa's lawyer walks in and asks them if they are Sunny. He reads Chun-hwa's will, which bequeathes that Na-mi will be the leader of Sunny. Jin-hee is given the position of vice-president; she looks disappointed because she expected something monetary. To that, the lawyer explains, "You are already rich" from Chun-hwa. He then reads that, for Jang-mi, Chun-hwa had bought life insurance from her, in the names of all the members of Sunny. Jang-mi is elated that she will finally be number one in her sales for that month. To Geum-ok, Chun-hwa offers her a position at her publishing company, with a chance to become executive manager if she doubles her sales. Chun-hwa leaves Bok-hee a paid for apartment, so that she may live with her daughter. And after she finishes rehab she will also receive the ground floor of Geum – oks building, with a large sum of money, so she can open a hair salon.

After the conclusion of the reading, per Chun- hwas last wish the women reprise their high school choreography to "Sunny" by Boney M in front of Chun-hwa's funeral picture. As they celebrate, Su-ji makes a surprise appearance. Then, their teenage forms flashed back again. The end.


Character Actor (adult) Actor (teen)
Im Na-mi Yoo Ho-jeong Shim Eun-kyung
Ha Chun-hwa Jin Hee-kyung Kang Sora
Kim Jang-mi Go Soo-hee Kim Min-yeong
Hwang Jin-hee Hong Jin-hee Park Jin-joo
Seo Geum-ok Lee Yun-kyung Nam Bo-ra
Ryu Bok-hee Kim Sun-kyung Kim Bo-mi
Jung Su-ji Yoon Jung Min Hyo-rin
Joon-ho Lee Geung-young Kim Shi-hoo


The flashback scenes juxtaposed the fun and silly drama filled lives of high school students with the Gwangju Democratization Movement that took place in May 1980. In the film, Na-mi's brother is a university student who participates in the protests. The scenes where Sunny fights the rival gang are backgrounded with the violent clash between the protestors and the military.

The movie's release was timely with the entertainment industry's focus on 1980s musicals, films, and pop music.[5] Western brands and products were abundantly present in the flashback portions of the film. The trendy high school students all wore Nike and Adidas. A billboard for Rocky was visible in the background of the fight between Sunny and their rivals. The music also referenced songs from the 1980s including "Touch by touch" by Joy, "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper,[note 2][4] "Reality" by Richard Sanderson, and Boney M's 1976 cover of Bobby Hebb's song "Sunny."


The film was released on 4 May 2011 in South Korea.

Film Festivals[edit]

The film has been shown in film festivals worldwide:

Event Location Event Dates Category/Remarks
16th Busan International Film Festival Busan, South Korea 6–14 October 2011 Korean Cinema Today: Panorama *Director's Cut
6th Korean Film Festival in Paris Paris, France 11–18 October 2011 Opening *European Premiere
13th Mumbai Film Festival Mumbai, India 13–30 October 2011 World Cinema
The London Korean Film Festival 2011 London, England 4–10 November 2011 Contemporary Korean Cinema
10th New York Korean Film Festival New York City, United States 24–26 February 2012
Osaka Asian Film Festival 2012 Osaka, Japan 9–18 March 2012 Special Screenings
2nd Annual San Diego Film Foundation Spring Showcase San Diego, United States 19–26 April 2012 Opening Night Film
The 3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA 2012) Sydney, Australia 22–28 September 2012 Closing Night Film[6]


Box office[edit]

In 2011, the movie sold 7,375,110 tickets, and grossed 54,034,324,100 KRW (US$47,068,227), making it the second highest grossing Korean film and third highest grossing overall film in South Korea.[1][7] At the end of the movie's run, it had sold 7.38 million admissions, with an additional 90,555 from a director's cut.[1]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
5th Mnet 20's Choice Awards
Hot Movie Star Kang Sora Won
20th Buil Film Awards
Best New Actress Kang Sora Won
48th Grand Bell Awards[8]
Best Costume Design Chae Kyung-hwa Nominated
Best Music Kim Joon-seok Nominated
Best Editing Nam Na-yeong Won
Best Planning Ahn Byeong-ki, Lee Anna Nominated
Best Screenplay Kang Hyeong-cheol Nominated
Best New Actress Kang Sora Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Chun Woo-hee Nominated
Best Director Kang Hyeong-cheol Won
Best Film Sunny Nominated
32nd Blue Dragon Film Awards
Technical Award Nam Na-yeong (editing) Nominated
Best Music Kim Joon-seok Nominated
Best Art Direction Lee Yo-han Nominated
Best Screenplay Kang Hyeong-cheol Nominated
Best New Actress Kang Sora Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Chun Woo-hee Nominated
Best Director Kang Hyeong-cheol Nominated
Best Film Sunny Nominated
19th Korean Culture and Entertainment Awards
Best New Actress Min Hyo-rin Won
Grand Prize (Daesang) for Film Sunny Won
3rd KOFRA Film Awards
(Korea Film Reporters Association)
Best Director Kang Hyeong-cheol Won
48th Baeksang Arts Awards
Most Popular Actress Kang Sora Won
Best New Actress Kang Sora Nominated
Best Actress Shim Eun-kyung Nominated
Best Film Sunny Nominated

Other Versions[edit]

TV series Never Dance Alone, broadcast by Hong Kong's Television Broadcasts Limited in 2014, is reportedly inspired by this movie.[9]


  1. ^ At one point in the film, Na-mi confronts Su-ji and learns that Su-ji's stepmother is from Jeollado, the same city Na-mi is from, making Su-ji automatically biased against Na-mi. The two make up after drinking soju, and crying out their frustrations together.
  2. ^ Although the movie displays events from the democratization movement in 1980, it also features the Cyndi Lauper song that was released in 1983.


  1. ^ a b c d Paquet, Darcy (8 January 2012). "South Korean Box Office in 2011". KOFIC.  also PDF with the detail returns.
  2. ^ ""Speedy Scandal" 8 million, continue with "Sunny – 2010"". 
  3. ^ Collemine, Cedric. "Sunny – 2010". HanCinema. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  4. ^ a b c Wong, Amy (23 October 2011). "Sunny (Korean Film)". YAM Magazine (Yet Another Magazine). Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  5. ^ "South Korean Retro Craze". SBS. [dead link]
  6. ^ "3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA 2012) – Sydney (Media Coverage / Reviews)". 
  7. ^ Kim, Hong-chun. "KOFIC reports record box office in 2011". KOFIC. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  8. ^ Won, Ho-Sung. "2011 Daejong Awards Results". Union Press News (in Korean). 
  9. ^ Xu, Shaona (17 April 2014). "《女人俱樂部》將播 李若彤陳慧珊7女出山" ["Never Dance Alone" To Be Broadcast. Carmen Lee, Flora Chan And Seven Others Return to the TV Screen]. Xin Kuaibao (New Express), Via Sina Hong Kong (in Traditional Chinese) (Guangzhou, China). Retrieved 17 June 2014. ""劇集故事來源於韓國2011年大熱影片《陽光姐妹淘》..." (Translation: The series' storyline originate from popular 2011 Korean movie "Sunny"...)" 

External links[edit]