Sunny (Korean Film)

Original Title: 써니
Release date: May 4, 2011
Director: Hyeong-Cheol Kang
Screenplay by: Hyeong-Cheol Kang
Cast: Ho-jeong Yoo, Eun-kyung Shim, So-ra Kang, Hee-kyung Jin, Min-young Kim, Su-hee Ko, Jin-joo Park, Jin-hee Hong, Bo-ra Nam, Yeon-kyung Lee, Bo-mi Kim, Sun-kyung Kim, Hyo-rin Min, Shi-hoo Kim, Young-ok Kim

After much notice from people online, including our very own Julyssa [1][2], I got the chance to catch Sunny and see what one of Korea’s biggest hits of the year — up until now — was about. I was not disappointed. In fact, I was very impressed by how much I enjoyed watching this.

Sunny begins following Na-mi (Yoo), already married to a successful man who only seems to pay attention to her by treating her with gifts and cash. Na-mi’s teen daughter doesn’t have a close relationship with her, instead preferring her dad’s way of caring. On the day that Na-mi is visiting her mother at the hospital, bringing a nice Chanel bag with her as a present, Na-mi encounters an old friend from high school. Chun-hwa (Jin) is at the hospital receiving treatment for cancer and asks Na-mi to get the gang together.

And this is what’s ingenious about the film. As you can see from the poster, it’s just really freaking good casting. Sunny transports us to 80s Korea — fashion, music and all — There we meet newly-transferred teen Na-mi (Shim), who immediately gets picked on by some girls. If it weren’t for obsessed with double-eyelids, Jang-Mi (M.Y Kim as a teen, Ko as an adult) and alpha leader teen, Chun-hwa (Kang), the awkward Na-mi would be done for.

Na-mi clicks with the whole gang right away , including dirty-mouthed Jin-hee (Park as a teen, Hong as an adult), violent with a stick, Geum-ok (Nam as a teen, Lee as an adult), future Miss Korea, Bok-hee (B.M Kim as a teen, S.K Kim as an adult) and… maybe not so well with oh-so-pretty Su-Ji (Min). Sunny masterfully transitions from present day Korea to the girls’ 80s memories without resulting in cheap flashbacks, which there should have been a lot of considering half of the build up occurs on a different timeline.

The film makes great use of comedy in between the nostalgia of the era — anyone who’s ever sung to Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun understands — and some very dramatic moments always prevalent in Korean dramas or television, which writer/director Hyeong-Cheol Kang is aware of and addresses in a very funny scene at the hospital.

The acting is on point from all the actresses, especially from leads Ho-jeong Yoo and Eun-kyung Shim, who play Na-mi at different stages of her life, without an in-between. While teen Na-mi was awkward and needed someone to stick out for her, grown-up Na-mi had become poised and became the glue the gang needed her to be. Another highlight was dirty-mouthed Jin-hee. Kudos go to Jin-joo Park for the challenges of such a dirty mouth, which she delivered with such ease — even funnier in contrast to grown-up Jin-hee.

Though the basic premise of Sunny is the nostalgia of women who have lost their identities on their way to becoming adults and builds up its success in the feel-good female friendships, I really thought the happy ending was too much of a happy ending, even as tinged as it was with bitterness. The inclusion of the lawyer, though funny, was a little too Deus-Ex-Machina, fixing everything that needed to be fixed to make the audience leave with a silly grin on their faces.

We would have left the film with a silly grin even without the tying of these loose ends.

Rating: ★★★¾☆ 


YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

51 Responses

  1. Julili says:


  2. ghost says:

    Don’t want to end up sounding like a perv or anything like that, but I thought Su-Ji was going to end up a closeted lesbian. But then she wasn’t. Just thought that I would put this out there…

    • amy says:

      @ghost, RIGHT?

      It was something floating around, and she even brought it up in the fight with Chun-hwa – which made me go “no wayyyyyyyyyyyy”, because she made it sound like a self-loathing gay person… all that staring and then the tension of the arm grabbing~~~ hahaha.

      I don’t know what would have been weirder… Su-Ji being a closeted gay or that scene at the park, which was kinda weird on its own as well.

      • Sunny says:


        While I was watching the movie with my friends one of them brought it up as well.. She also seemed to think that Su-Ju was a lesbian. For some reason i have a feeling they perhaps even made her that way in the original script, since it seemed to lead up to it. The directors-cut is apparently different from what we’ve been shown.. They also had to change a few things in the script so i’ve read. There is a possibility they wrote her like that but they had to change the story to make it more appropriate for Korean cinema . I don’t get that they travel all the way to another place just so Su-Ji can kiss a guy.. Seems like Cutting and replacing a scene to me…

        Perhaps I am reading way to much into it.. oh well xD

        • amy says:

          @Sunny, I know the DVD release comes with the Theatrical cut and the Director’s cut, but I always thought it was only because of some of the school violence. I really have no idea what version I saw, but I thought it was the director’s version since I thought the violence was pretty shocking… for me, in a nostalgia film anyway.

          Glad to know we’re not the only ones feeling Suji’s lesbian vibe, though.

          But then… if Su-Ji was gay… that scene with the soju would have turned out different, wouldn’t it? With all that “I’m so sorry for being so pretty” bits LOL

        • yam magazine says:

          @Sunny, we just checked the Director’s Cut, and there wasn’t anything that was included that would be considered a big change. They could’ve just included these scenes in a Deleted Scenes feature, and it would have been fine.

    • Julyssa says:

      @ghost, My money was on Chun-hwa

  3. Julyssa says:

    I really can’t wait to see this! I wanna see it now! ;A;

    • amy says:

      @Julyssa, it’s a good candidate for my fave film of the year. Like… seriously fun. Can’t wait for the actual DVD to come out and probably watch it… at least, once a month. hahaha. I’ve seen it three times already. LOL

  4. ghost says:

    Now we’re gonna get that infamous “why does any interaction between two people of the same sex has to get ‘it has to be gay’ comments”

    Maybe we should do a frame by frame view of the film’s versions. First we have to watch both versions – back to back, right?

    • amy says:

      @ghost, I don’t know if I can watch it back to back… I will try to get screencaps of it, though. I’m really curious know about the difference.

  5. Julyssa says:

    LOVE IT SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO MUCH. I just knew it was going to be great. I am always right!
    I need to buy the DVD because I own it to my eyes to see this in HD.

  6. ghost says:

    You know that scene where they are in drawing class? Na-mi is making a portrait of Su-ji — by the way, why isn’t Su-Ji drawing for that class??? — there’s a lingering shot where Su-Ji stares at Na-Mi, literally. It comes almost just before that “are you a lesbian?” scene. It makes no sense to bring it up.

    But then again, Julyssa may be right and that “are you a lesbian” might be literally aimed at Chun-hwa. But in that case, if they wanted to de-gay the movie… it would be the other way around from the Director/Theatrical version.

    • amy says:

      @ghost, the early scene of Na-Mi meeting Su-Ji and her “stop staring” comment goes in had with a scene in the Director’s Cut where Na-Mi gets to meet her brother’s socialist pro-worker’s rights girlfriend and has the same request of “stop staring” – but in contrast to Na-Mi backing out from Su-Ji, you see she is changing and getting bolder.

      That’s kind of like a bridge between that Na-Mi and the Na-Mi that sends the note to the glue-sniffer to settle things.

      Also, another interesting observation — when Na-Mi reunites with Chun-hwa, Chun-hwa sings to her “I’m just looking at you” which is the song they sing in Jang-Mi’s house as a group of teens. There’s a lot of staring going on in this movie.

      And you know, they are all waiting for Su-Ji, right? Then the lawyer shows up — I totally thought for a flash second that Su-Ji got a sex change hahahahahaha.

  7. giacomo says:

    what’s that cool retro rock song being played by the DJ in the bar room scene?

  8. giacomo says:

    do you know where I can watch that video?

    • amy says:

      @Giacomo Lee, I found the list of songs used…
      1. Time After Time (Tuck&Patti, 1988)
      2. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper, 1983)
      3. 빙글빙글 (나미, 1985) [mash-up][1985][sunny]
      4. 보이네 (나미, 1985) [1]
      5. 꿈에 (조덕배, 1985) [1]
      6. 알 수 없어 (마그마, 1981) [1]
      7. Reality (Richard Sanderson, 1984)
      8. Touch by Touch (Joy, 1985)
      9. Sunny (Boney M, 1986)
      10. 세월이 가면 (최호섭, 1988) [1]
      11. Adieu, Jolie Candy (Jean Francois Michael, 1968)

  9. Suzie Hung says:

    C*ck-sucking p*ssy-licking sh*t-f*cking t*t-squeezing *ss-kissing good movie :D

  10. Rodrigo says:

    Great film. I’m suprised at how much I liked it. But now that I’m aware of how Sunny fared, that poster actually spoils the ending, lol. Or, if you wanna se it in another way, it mirrors the present time effectively.

    My only problem was the insertion of that guy who young Na-mi crushed on, only to see it going nowhere. Otherwise, Sunny would have been a 4-star film. Maybe later on, it could turn into that.

    • amy says:

      @Rodrigo, I forgot to reply to this. Because of how weird the guy’s story is inserted, everyone thinks Su-Ji is gay now. LOL

  11. Katherine says:

    What is that song in the movie that goes like “I’m only looking you~” or something… Chunhwa sings it to Nami when she goes to visit her. In Korean it sounds like “somethingsomething Barabogo Iji~”

    • amy says:

      @Katherine, check comment on #9 track3: 빙글빙글 (나미, 1985) for working links. Singer is Nami like the character, both Chunhwa and Nami are named after singers :) Song is called Round and Round (or Bingeul bingeul)

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