The Throne (film)

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The Throne
The Throne (film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Revised RomanizationSado
Directed byLee Joon-ik
Produced byOh Seung-hyeon
Written byCho Chul-hyun
Oh Seung-hyeon
Lee Song-won
StarringSong Kang-ho
Yoo Ah-in
Moon Geun-young
Music byBang Jun-seok
CinematographyKim Tae-gyeong
Edited byKim Sang-bum
Kim Jae-bum
Distributed byShowbox/Mediaplex
Release date
  • 16 September 2015 (2015-09-16)
Running time
125 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
BudgetUS$8.3 million
Box officeUS$45.9 million[1]

The Throne (Hangul사도; RRSado) is a 2015 South Korean historical period drama film directed by Lee Joon-ik, starring Song Kang-ho and Yoo Ah-in.[2][3][4][5] Set during the reign of King Yeongjo, the film is about the life of Crown Prince Sado, the heir to the throne who was deemed unfit to rule and, at age 27, was condemned to death by his own father by being locked in a rice chest for eight days.[6][7][8][9][10]

The Throne won three awards at the 35th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards, including Best Film.[11][12] It was also selected as the South Korean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.[13][14]


The film opens with the crown prince, Sado, carrying out a plot to kill his father, the king. However, the assassination - for untold reasons - does not take place.

The next day, Sado's mother goes to the king to encourage him not to punish Sado's son when he punishes Sado. The king summons Sado and tells him to kill himself. Fearing for their own lives, Sado's supporters rush in and save him from suicide. Instead the king orders Sado into a large rice box, which he then nails shut since no one else will do it for him.

The movie proceeds to flip back and forth chronologically between the rice box in the courtyard and the history of how it got there.

The king is presented as a doting father very concerned with the educational attainments of his young son. Sado is presented as winsome and diplomatic even at a very early age. However, he does not take well to the rote memorization he is expected to perform. He fails to properly acquire a passage written by his father, and we find him preferring to socialize and paint. When asked how often he likes to study, all are shocked with his very frank answer of "once or twice a year." The king perceives his son is being rebellious.

Meanwhile, three days in the box Sado begins to hallucinate. He imagines he is covered by centipedes and breaks out of the box, washing himself in the pond. He is returned to the box, which is then fortified.

In another flashback, the king describes familial relations among royalty being different from commoners. "In the palace, parents think of their children as enemies." Sado's father goes on to tell how his father had his wife poisoned, and he himself has been accused of killing his own brother to secure the throne. Here and at other places during the movie he claims he does not want to be the king.

The king proposes his son be made a substitute king, a method by which the crown prince may exercise the office of king under the ongoing tutelage of the elderly king. In his new role, Sado is assertive and just, but some factions that have enjoyed special privilege under the corrupt elder king take issue with his rulings. The elder king jumps to the conclusion that his son is capitalizing on schisms within the kingdom to weaken the elder king's powers. He directs his son to make fewer decisions and allow the nobles to lead. However, when his son defers to them, the king is alarmed at the decisions of his nobles and countermands Sado's rulings. Then Sado begins to consult his father to make wiser decisions, but the old man ridicules his son for being unable to govern independently. Nothing Sado does is pleasing to the king, who proceeds to humiliate his son. However, the Royal Queen Dowager is overjoyed at Sado's wisdom and acts as his protector.

When the king refuses to call for celebrations for the queen's 60th birthday, the tension comes to a head. He storms into her chambers and insists that she support him or approve his stepping down. Much to his shock, she approves, thereby making Sado king.

Curiously, Sado refuses to ascend the throne. After the elderly king's departure, Sado remains kneeling in the courtyard where his subjects fear he will die of exposure. The queen is forced to revoke her approval, and in humiliation, she stops eating, bringing her life to an end. At her funeral, the elder king blames Sado for her death. Sado snaps.

Sado becomes a religious zealot and an alcoholic. He digs an underground grave complex for himself and refuses to pay his respects to the new queen. In a rage, he kills one of the palace eunuchs. He throws a celebration for his mother for her 60th birthday at which his actions imply madness. Meanwhile, the elder king takes on Sado's son as his new protege, but has his own son framed for plotting a conspiracy against the crown.

The scene from the beginning is replayed with a few additions, the important one being why he did not kill his father. At the critical moment, he found his son with his grandfather and overheard his son tell his grandfather that Sado had a good heart. Sado did not go through with the assassination.

Sado dies on the seventh day of his imprisonment and is buried on the eighth, but his father has all memory of him erased. He directs his grandson never to even speak his name. However, after the death of the elder king, Sado's son goes out of his way to honour his father, thereby vindicating Sado.


The film is set in the Joseon period, wherein a king tries to teach his son the way of being an eligible prince and a competent king. Confucianism is the base of Joseon kingdom, but the son has failed to absorb it and is involved in arts, dancing and dozing away from alcoholism. Efforts made by the king to straighten out his son only result in a bitter end. The king in his late age, losing hope in his son, trains his grandson for the position. The grandson excels in these aspects, making the king happy. In a drunken fury from bitterness and regret, the prince rushes to the palace one night to assassinate the king. But hearing conversations between his son and king make him aware of what he is doing and he drops his sword. The king, who initially tries to forgive, is manipulated by some members of the palace officials and ministers into thinking that the prince is beyond reckless and not worthy of being future king. The king orders his son to be locked in a rice box until his death; on the eighth day the prince dies, and ceremonies are held. The king moves to a secluded place for retirement. The palace is left in care of the officials and queens. After 14 years, the grandson meets with his grandfather, who advises him to be vigilant and be aware of the difference between emotions and principle. After the grandfather passes away, the grandson, now king, honors his father at his grave and his mother as his late father honored his mother. Both the son and mother shed tears of pride.

The film is essentially a portrayal of a power struggle between a desperate father and his emotionally abused son, who initially strives to earn his father's love and admiration, but rebels against his father once he realizes that he can not meet his expectations. At seemingly every opportunity, the king-father publicly belittles and humiliates his son before his governing subjects, making the regent-son question his own self-worth, driving him into a perpetual state of anxiety, self-loathing and eventually madness.

On the other hand, the king-father (who wishes to be free of the throne himself) quickly learns that the young prince is not fit for rule, not taking to his vital studies, and incapable of the leadership required for the position. As he is forced to continue to live in a position he abhors, his actions become desperate and his methods extreme, until he unwittingly ends up breaking his son's spirit and mind.

Either side is explored in sequence through both past and present, as well as the different perspectives of the family and staff, to show both father and son struggling under the weight of duty and tradition that neither truly wants, crippling their relationship and driving them closer to a tragic, inevitable end that everyone is helpless to prevent. Although the film leaves the nature of the blame open to interpretation (since both father and son make many mistakes; the father in his pursuit of a relationship with a young concubine as an outlet for his misery, the son in murdering palace officials and prone to violent outbursts as an outlet to his suffering), it makes clear at the end that both had a fierce love for the other, and that the driving force for both king and prince was to see the other happy.



Filming began on 8 July 2014.[15] The Throne was Moon Geun-young's first film in 8 years.[16]


Box office[edit]

The Throne opened in South Korea on 16 September 2015. By October 25, it has grossed ₩48.7 billion (US$42,9 million) from 6.23 million admissions.[17][18][19]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result
2015 35th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards[20] Best Film The Throne Won
Best Director Lee Joon-ik Nominated
Best Actor Song Kang-ho Nominated
Yoo Ah-in Nominated
Best Cinematography Kim Tae-gyeong Nominated
Best Screenplay Cho Chul-hyun, Oh Seung-hyeon, Lee Song-won Won
Best Music Bang Jun-seok Won
Top 10 Films of the Year The Throne Won
15th Korea World Youth Film Festival[21] Most Favorite Actor Yoo Ah-in Won
52nd Grand Bell Awards[22] Best Film The Throne Nominated
Best Director Lee Joon-ik Nominated
Best Actor Yoo Ah-in Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Kim Hae-sook Won
Best Art Direction Kang Seung-yong Nominated
Best Costume Design Shim Hyun-sub Nominated
Best Music Bang Jun-seok Nominated
36th Blue Dragon Film Awards[23][24] Best Film The Throne Nominated
Best Director Lee Joon-ik Nominated
Best Actor Song Kang-ho Nominated
Yoo Ah-in Won
Best Supporting Actress Jeon Hye-jin Won
Best Screenplay Cho Chul-hyun, Oh Seung-hyeon, Lee Song-won Nominated
Best Cinematography Kim Tae-gyeong Won
Best Editing Kim Sang-bum, Kim Jae-bum Nominated
Best Art Direction Kang Seung-yong Nominated
Best Lighting Hong Seung-cheol Won
Best Music Bang Jun-seok Won
19th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival[25] Grand Prix Lee Joon-ik Won
Best Music Bang Jun-seok Won
5th SACF Artists of the Year Awards[26] Artistic Impression in Motion Pictures Award Yoo Ah-in Won
The Korea Film Actors Association Awards[27] Top Star Award Won
Best Director Award Lee Joon-ik Won
2016 7th KOFRA Film Awards [28] Best Film The Throne Won
Best Actor Yoo Ah-in Won
Best Supporting Actress Jeon Hye-jin Won
20th Satellite Awards Best Foreign Language Film The Throne Nominated
Best Costume Design Shim Hyun-seob Nominated
10th Asian Film Awards[29] Best Original Music Bang Jun-seok Nominated
Best Costume Design Shim Hyun-seob Won
Next Generation Award Yoo Ah-in Won
21st Chunsa Film Art Awards[30] Grand Prix (Best Director) Lee Joon-ik Won
Best Original Screenplay Cho Chul-hyun Won
Best Actor Yoo Ah-in Won
Best Supporting Actress Jeon Hye-jin Nominated
52nd Baeksang Arts Awards
Grand Prize (Daesang) Lee Joon-ik Won
Best Actor Song Kang-ho Nominated
Yoo Ah-in Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Jeon Hye-jin Nominated
25th Buil Film Awards Nominated
Best Art Direction Kang Seung-yong Nominated
Best Music Bang Joon-seok Nominated
11th Max Movie Awards Best Film The Throne Nominated
Best Director Lee Joon-ik Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Jeon Hye-jin Nominated
10th Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Director Lee Joon-ik Nominated
Best Actor Song Kang-ho Nominated
Asian Film Festival Barcelona Best Film The Throne Won
47th International Film Festival of India Nominated
Special Jury Award Lee Joon-ik Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Throne". KOFIC. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  2. ^ Jin, Eun-soo (14 August 2015). "New take on King Yeongjo and Prince Sado". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  3. ^ "The Throne filmmaker speaks highly of actor Song". The Korea Herald. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  4. ^ Jin, Eun-soo (11 September 2015). "Movie tells timeless tale of father-son dispute". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 12 September 2015.
  5. ^ Won, Ho-jung (16 September 2015). "Herald Review: The Throne brings royal strife down to Earth". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  6. ^ Kim, Hee-eun (3 April 2014). "Song Kang-ho joins Lee Joon-ik film". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  7. ^ Conran, Pierce (9 April 2014). "SONG Kang-ho Boards New LEE Joon-ik Film". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  8. ^ Kim, Hee-eun (14 May 2014). "Yoo Ah-in set for Sado role?". Korea Joongang Daily. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  9. ^ Jeon, Su-mi (26 May 2014). "Moon Geun Young, Yoo Ah In and Song Kang Ho Confirmed for Film Sado". enewsWorld. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  10. ^ Baek, Byung-yeul (18 August 2014). "Same role, different actors". The Korea Times. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
  11. ^ Park, So-jung (28 October 2015). "The Throne rakes in three film critics' awards". Yonhap. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  12. ^ Conran, Pierce (2 November 2015). "THE THRONE Tops Korean Association of Film Critics Awards". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  13. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (1 September 2015). "Oscars: South Korea Submits The Throne for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  14. ^ "The Throne picked as Korean candidate for Academy Awards' foreign language film award". Yonhap. 2 September 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  15. ^ "Song Kang Ho and Yoo Ah In's New Film Sado Holds First Shooting". Soompi. 18 July 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  16. ^ Conran, Pierce (13 May 2014). "YOO Ah-in and MOON Geun-young Confirmed for SADO". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  17. ^ Ma, Kevin (5 October 2015). "Intern climbs ladder at South Korea box office". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  18. ^ "The Throne Racks Up 2 Million Viewers in a Week". The Chosun Ilbo. 23 September 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  19. ^ Ma, Kevin (26 October 2015). "The Phone rings up South Korea box office". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  20. ^ "35th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards Winners". Hancinema. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  21. ^ "유아인 박보영 류승완…청소년 뽑은 인기영화인 선정" (in Korean). Asiae. 2015-10-22. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  22. ^ "52nd Daejong Film Awards (Grand Bell Awards) 2015 Winners". Hancinema. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  23. ^ "Who are the winners of 36th Blue Dragon Film Awards?". Kpopherald. 2015-11-27. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  24. ^ "36th Blue Dragon Awards 'The Assassination' awarded Best Film: Complete list of winners". Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  25. ^ "Tallinn Black Nights awards winners". 2015-11-28. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  26. ^ "Actor Namgung Won gets lifetime achievement award". The Korea Herald. 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  27. ^ "Actor Yoo Ah-in had the best year". Korea JoongAng Daily. 2015-12-26. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  28. ^ "Korean reporters pick 'The Throne' as best film of 2015". Kpopherald. 2016-01-21. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  29. ^ "Celebrities light up Asian Film Awards". China Daily. 2016-03-18. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  30. ^ "2016 춘사영화상, '사도'-'암살' 사이좋게 2관왕" (in Korean). DongA. 2016-04-05. Retrieved 2016-04-15.

External links[edit]