Chunhyang (film)

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Chunhyang film poster.jpg
Directed byIm Kwon-taek
Produced byLee Tae-won
Written byKim Myung-gon
StarringLee Hyo-jeong
Cho Seung-woo
Music byKim Jung-gil
CinematographyJung Il-sung
Edited byPark Soon-deok
Distributed byCJ Entertainment
Release date
  • January 29, 2000 (2000-01-29)
Running time
133 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
BudgetUS$2.5 million
Box officeUS$798,977 (USA)[1]

Chunhyang (Hangul춘향뎐; RRChunhyangjeon) is a Korean Pansori film directed by Im Kwon-taek, with a screenplay by Kang Hye-yeon and Kim Myung-gon. Distributed by CJ Entertainment, the film was released on January 29, 2000 in South Korea. Lee Hyo-jeong and Cho Seung-woo played Chunhyang and Mongryong, respectively.

To date, there have been more than sixteen works based on this narrative, including three North Korean films. Im Kwon-taek's Chunhyang presents a new interpretation of this oral tradition but it is created for a more global audience."[2] It is the first Chunhyang movie that lyrics of Pansori became part of the screenplay. Therefore, the contents of the Pansori reappear as scenes in the movie. The film uses the framing device of a present-day narrator who, accompanied by a drummer, sings the story of Chunhyang in front of a responsive audience. The film flashes back and forth between the singer's presentation and scenes of Mongryong.

It was entered into the 2000 Cannes Film Festival.[3] The film is the first Korean film which was presented at the 2000 Telluride Film Festival.[4] At the 2000 Asia Pacific Film Festival, it won a Special Jury Award.[5] It also won an award for Best Narrative at the Hawaii International Film Festival in 2000.[6]


The film is told through pansori, a traditional Korean form of storytelling that seeks to narrate through song. It is based on Chunhyangga, a traditional Korean folktale and is set in 18th century Korea.

Lee Mongryong, a governor's son, falls in love and marries a beautiful girl Chunhyang Sung, the daughter of a courtesan. Their marriage is kept a secret from the governor who would immediately disown Lee if he found that his son married beneath him. The governor gets posted to Seoul and Mongryong is forced to leave his young wife behind, promising to come back for her when he passes the official exam.

After Mongryong leaves Namwon where Mongryong and Chunhyang first meets, new governor, Byun Hakdo, comes and wants Chunhyang for himself. When she refuses, stating that she already has a husband and will forever remain faithful to her beloved, the governor punishes her by flogging. Meanwhile, back in Seoul, Lee passes the test with the highest score and becomes an officer. Three years have passed and Lee Mongryong returns to the town on the King's mission. There, he finds out that his wife is to be beaten to death on the governor's birthday as a punishment for disobeying his lust. The governor, very corrupted and greedy, is arrested by Mongryong. The two lovers are finally united.[7]


  • Lee Hyo-jeong - Chunhyang
  • Cho Seung-woo - Mongryong
  • Kim Sung-nyeo - Wolmae
  • Lee Jung-hun - Governor Byun
  • Kim Hak-yong - Bangja
  • Choi Jin-young - Governor Lee
  • Hong Kyung-yeun - kisaeng leader
  • Cho Sang-hyun - pansori singer
  • Kim Myung-hwan - pansori drummer
  • Lee Hae-ryong - Lord of Soonchun
  • Gok Jun-hwam - Lord of Okgwa
  • Yoon Keun-mo - Lord of Goksung
  • Lee Hye-eun - Hyangdan

Critical reception[edit]

According to Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times, "Instead the story is freshened through the use of a Korean singing storyteller, a pansori singer, to provide a narration, belting out the song from a stage in front of an audience. The pansori, or song, is performed under a proscenium arch to highlight the ritual elements of folk tales. Even though much of what the pansori tells us unfolds before the cameras at the same moment, the forcefulness of the performance lends another layer of feeling to the picture."[8]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipients Result Ref.
21st Blue Dragon Film Awards Best New Actor Cho Seung-woo Nominated
37th Grand Bell Awards Nominated
Telluride Film Festival Film Presented Chunhyang Won [4]
Asia Pacific Film Festival Special Jury Award Won [5]
53rd Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Im Kwon-taek Nominated [3]
Hawaii International Film Festival Best Feature Film Chunhyang Won [6]
5th Busan International Film Festival Netpac Award Im Kwon-taek Won
13th Singapore International Film Festival Best Asian Director Won
20th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards Best Cinematography Jung Il-sung Won
Fribourg International Film Festival Grand Prix Im Kwon-taek Nominated


  1. ^
  2. ^ Lee, Hyangjin (September 1, 2005). CHUNHYANG: Marketing an Old Korean Tradition in New Korean Cinema. NYU Press. pp. 63–64. ISBN 978-0814740309.
  3. ^ a b "Festival de Cannes: Chunhyang". Retrieved 2009-10-11.
  4. ^ a b "Chunhyang (2000)". The New York Times Movies. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Chunhyang". 2013 New York Korean Film Festival 2008. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Hawaii International Film Festival". Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Chunhyang (2000) plot summary". ruinedendings. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  8. ^ MITCHELL, ELVIS. "FILM REVIEW; How a Korean Folk Form Freshens a Fairy Tale Love". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 May 2013.

External links[edit]