Shadows in the Palace

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Shadows in the Palace
Shadows in the Palace.jpg
Revised Romanization Gungnyeo
McCune–Reischauer Kungnyŏ
Directed by Kim Mee-jung
Produced by Jung Seung-hye
Won Jung-sim
Kang Woo-suk
Lee Joon-ik
Written by Kim Mee-jung
Choi Seok-hwan
Starring Park Jin-hee
Yoon Se-ah
Seo Young-hee
Im Jung-eun
Music by Hwang Sang-jun
Cinematography Lee Hyung-deok
Edited by Kim Sang-bum
Kim Jae-bum
Distributed by Cinema Service
CJ Entertainment
Release date
  • October 18, 2007 (2007-10-18)
Running time
118 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean
Budget US$3,500,000
Box office US$9,723,970[1]

Shadows in the Palace (Hangul궁녀; RRGungnyeo, literally "(servant-)women of the palace") is a 2007 South Korean film directed by Kim Mee-jung. The mystery thriller is a fictionalized account of gungnyeo, court maids during South Korea's Joseon era.[2]

This is Kim Mee-jung's first feature film.[3] She previously worked as part of the directing staff in King and the Clown (2005) and Shadows in the Palace was filmed on the same set.


The film is set amongst a group of gungnyeo, or palace women in Korea during the time of the Joseon dynasty, and is primarily about the hidden dynamics that unfold between them. Sworn into secrecy, submission, and celibacy, the women of the palace officially devote their lives to the well-being of the royal family. Currently, the kingdom has no heir to the throne, and at such a time, the royal concubine Hee-bin (Yoon Se-ah) has given birth to a son. The queen mother wishes for the queen to adopt the child as her own, but Hee-bin hesitates proceeding with this, fearing she will be disposed off once the adoption is official.

One morning, as the court maids go about their work, one of them, Wol-ryung (Seo Young-hee), also Hee-bin's most trusted maid, is found dead, hanging from the rafters of the palace roof. Initially assuming it to be suicide, Chun-ryung (Park Jin-hee), the royal medic, discovers as she proceeds with the autopsy that Wol-ryung was actually strangled. She also discovers that there are signs that the maid had given birth at some time in the past, which would have been absolutely forbidden under palace rules. Ignoring orders from her superiors to wrap up the case quickly, Chun-ryung sets off in search of answers.

Amidst a tangled web involving suspicion of Wol-ryung's involvement in an affair with a teacher at the nearby school, the torture of a mute court maid, a beheading, and finally the records of the king's nightly visits to his concubine, an elaborate scheme spearheaded by Hee-bin's advisor transpires, where Wol-ryung was chosen to bear the crown prince, and later murdered to hide the truth of the baby's origin. When exposed, the advisor imprisons Chun-ryung, overpowers Hee-bin and makes off with the baby. She is however intercepted in the forest by the ghost of Wol-ryung, and is murdered. The ghost later also visits the royal palace, and kills the queen mother, thus removing the last obstacle between the crown prince and the throne.

The baby is later discovered in the forest by Chun-ryung. The next day, as the palace women mourn the death of the queen mother in white robes, they simultaneously also witness the coronation of the new prince in the arms of Hee-bin and the transfer of power to new hands.


  • Park Jin-hee as Chun-ryung
  • Yoon Se-ah as Hee-bin
  • Seo Young-hee as Wol-ryung
  • Im Jung-eun as Ok-jin
  • Jeon Hye-jin as Jung-ryul
  • Kim Sung-ryung as Inspector
  • Kim Nam-jin as Lee Hyung-ik
  • Kim Mi-kyung as gungnyeo Shim
  • Nam Jeong-hee as gungnyeo Noh
  • Kim Hak-seon as the king
  • Lee Yong-yi as gungnyeo Cheon
  • Go Seo-hee as the queen
  • Chu Kwi-jung as gungnyeo Uhm
  • Moon Ga-young as Il-won
  • Ye Soo-jung as the queen mother
  • Son Young-soon as chief gungyeo
  • Park Soo-young as government official
  • Han Ye-rin as Sook-young

Awards and nominations[edit]

2007 Blue Dragon Film Awards[4]
  • Nomination – Best Supporting Actress – Im Jung-eun
  • Nomination – Best New Director – Kim Mee-jung
  • Nomination – Best Lighting – Park Se-mun
2007 Korean Film Awards
  • Best New Director – Kim Mee-jung
  • Nomination – Best Supporting Actress – Jeon Hye-jin
2007 Women in Film Korea Awards[3]
  • Film of the Year
2008 Baeksang Arts Awards
  • Nomination – Best New Director – Kim Mee-jung
2008 Buil Film Awards
  • Nomination – Best Supporting Actress – Seo Young-hee
  • Nomination – Best New Director – Kim Mee-jung
  • Nomination – Best Lighting – Park Se-mun
2008 Chunsa Film Art Awards
  • Best Lighting – Park Se-mun
2008 Grand Bell Awards
  • Best Lighting – Park Se-mun
  • Nomination – Best Actress – Park Jin-hee
  • Nomination – Best Supporting Actress – Kim Sung-ryung
  • Nomination – Best New Director – Kim Mee-jung
  • Nomination – Best Cinematography – Lee Hyung-deok
  • Nomination – Best Art Direction – Lee Ha-jun
  • Nomination – Best Lighting – Park Se-mun
  • Nomination – Best Costume Design – Shim Hyun-sub
  • Nomination – Best Sound – Oh Seong-jin
2008 Golden Cinematography Awards
2008 Fantasia Festival[5]


  1. ^ "Goongnyeo (A Court Lady) (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  2. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (11 October 2007). "Shadows Illuminates Palace Mysteries". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  3. ^ a b Yi, Chang-ho (26 December 2007). "Shadows in the Palace Women's film of 2007". Korean Film Council. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  4. ^ "Shadows in the Palace - Awards". Cinemasie. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  5. ^ "Shadows in the Palace". Fantasia Festival. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 

External links[edit]