Secret Sunshine

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Secret Sunshine
Secret Sunshine.jpg
Theatrical poster
Revised Romanization Miryang
McCune–Reischauer Miryang
Directed by Lee Chang-dong
Produced by Lee Han-na
Lee Chang-dong
Written by Lee Chang-dong
Based on "The Story of a Bug"
by Lee Cheong-jun
Starring Jeon Do-yeon
Song Kang-ho
Music by Christian Basso
Cinematography Jo Yong-gyu
Edited by Kim Hyeon
Pine House Films
Distributed by Cinema Service
CJ Entertainment
Release date
  • May 17, 2007 (2007-05-17)
Running time
142 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean
Budget US$3.5 million
Box office US$11.6 million[1]

Secret Sunshine (Hangul밀양; Hanja密陽; RRMiryang) is a 2007 South Korean tragedy film[2][3][4][5] directed by acclaimed South Korean director, novelist, and former Minister of Culture Lee Chang-dong.[6] The screenplay based on the short fiction "The Story of a Bug" by Lee Cheong-jun that focuses on a woman as she wrestles with the questions of grief, madness, and faith. The Korean title Miryang (or Milyang) is named after the city that served as the film's setting and filming location, of which "Secret Sunshine" is the literal translation.[7] For her performance in the film, Jeon Do-yeon won the Prix d'interprétation féminine du Festival de Cannes (Best Actress) at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.[8][9][10] The film also won the award for Best Film at the Asian Film Awards and at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards[11]. The film sold 1,710,364 tickets nationwide in South Korea alone.[12]


Lee Shin-ae (Jeon Do-yeon) and her only child move to the small town of Miryang, South Gyeongsang Province. Her husband has recently died and she has decided to start life anew back in the hometown of her deceased husband. While entering Miryang, Shin-ae's car breaks down along a rural highway. She is able to get the local mechanic in Miryang named Kim Jong-chan (Song Kang-ho) to come out to her car and start it once again. Although they come from different social backgrounds, the pair hits it off and seems to find comfort in each other's presence.[13]

Tragedy soon strikes Shin-ae once again when her only son is abducted. 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.


Critical response[edit]

The film was widely acclaimed on the festival circuit, with particular and universal praise for Do-yeon's performance. It received multiple awards, including several Best Film wins and numerous Best Actress awards for Do-yeon.[14][15] It was nominated for the prestigious Palme d'Or at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, but did not win.

The film was similarly acclaimed upon its American release in 2010, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 93% across 29 reviews; the site's consensus reads, "Plumbing the depths of tragedy without succumbing to melodrama, Chang-dong Lee's Secret Sunshine is a grueling, albeit moving, piece of beautifully acted cinema."[16] With 6 reviews, it scored 84 on Metacritic, indicating "universal acclaim."[17] A.O. Scott of the New York Times called the film "clear, elegant and lyrical. The experience of watching [Chang-dong's] films is not always pleasant... yet his quiet and exacting humaneness infuses even the most dreadful moments with an intimation of grace."[18] Noel Murray, writing for the A.V. Club, called it "a frequently beautiful film with a cold, dark heart" and praised Do-yeon's "powerful performance."[19] Michael Atkinson of the Village Voice wrote that "the red-eyed Jeon, landing a Best Actress at Cannes in 2007 and unforgettable as well in The Housemaid, goes to hell and back."[20]

Home video release[edit]

On August 23, 2011, The Criterion Collection released the film on DVD and Blu-ray, both of which includes a new video interview with Lee Chang-dong, a behind-the-scenes featurette, the US theatrical trailer, and a booklet featuring a new film essay by film critic Dennis Lim.[21][22][23]


2007 Cannes Film Festival

2007 Grand Bell Awards

  • Special Prize - Jeon Do-yeon

2007 Asia Pacific Screen Awards

2007 Korean Association of Film Critics Awards

  • Best Actress – Jeon Do-yeon

2007 Blue Dragon Film Awards

  • Best Actress – Jeon Do-yeon

2007 Korean Film Awards

  • Best Film
  • Best Director – Lee Chang-dong
  • Best Actor – Song Kang-ho
  • Best Actress – Jeon Do-yeon
  • Nomination – Best Screenplay – Lee Chang-dong
  • Nomination – Best Cinematography – Jo Yong-gyu

2007 Women in Film Korea Awards

  • Best Actress – Jeon Do-yeon

2007 Director's Cut Awards

  • Best Director – Lee Chang-dong
  • Best Actor – Song Kang-ho
  • Best Actress – Jeon Do-yeon

2008 Asian Film Awards

2008 Baeksang Arts Awards

  • Nomination – Best Film
  • Nomination – Best Director – Lee Chang-dong
  • Nomination – Best Actress – Jeon Do-yeon
  • Nomination – Best Screenplay – Lee Chang-dong

2008 Grand Bell Awards[15]

  • Nomination – Best Film
  • Nomination – Best Director – Lee Chang-dong
  • Nomination – Best Actor – Song Kang-ho
  • Nomination – Best Actress – Jeon Do-yeon

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Box office by Country: Secret Sunshine". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Lim, Dennis (24 August 2011). "Secret Sunshine: A Cinema of Lucidity". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  7. ^ Paquet, Darcy. "Secret Sunshine". Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  8. ^ Scott, A. O. (26 May 2007). "Festival Distinguished by Its Strong Actresses". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  9. ^ "Cannes top prize goes to Korean film actress". Korea JoongAng Daily. 7 June 2007. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  10. ^ Rao, Anjali (24 October 2007). "Interview with Jeon Do-yeon". CNN TalkAsia. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Theatrical Releases in 2007: Box-Office Admission Results". Retrieved 2012-06-04.
  13. ^ Yang, Sung-hee (16 May 2007). "Actress without ambition gets it all". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  14. ^ Jeon, Do-yeon; Song, Kang-ho; Jo, Yeong-jin; Kim, Mi-kyung (2010-12-22), Secret Sunshine, retrieved 2017-05-11 
  15. ^ a b "Secret Sunshine - Awards". Cinemasie. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  16. ^ Secret Sunshine, retrieved 2017-05-11 
  17. ^ Secret Sunshine, retrieved 2017-05-11 
  18. ^ Scott, A. O. (2010-12-21). "'Secret Sunshine' Makes U.S. Debut - Film Review". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-11. 
  19. ^ "Secret Sunshine". 2010-12-21. Retrieved 2017-05-11. 
  20. ^ Atkinson, Michael (2010-12-22). "Grief Gone Mad in Secret Sunshine". Village Voice. Retrieved 2017-05-11. 
  21. ^ "Secret Sunshine (2007)". The Criterion Collection. The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 25 July 2015. 
  22. ^ "Secret Sunshine Blu-ray". Retrieved 25 July 2015. 
  23. ^ Katz, Josh (17 May 2011). "Criterion Blu-ray in August: Pontecorvo, Polanski, Kubrick, Chang-dong, Cocteau, Anderson, Vigo (Updated)". Retrieved 25 July 2015. 

External links[edit]