Sunny (2011 film)

Sunny (Korean써니; RRSseoni) is a 2011 South Korean comedy-drama film. The film is about a middle-aged woman who tries to fulfill her friend's dying wish of reuniting their group of high school friends. The film alternates between two timelines: the present day where the women are middle-aged, and the 1980s when they were in high school. It is the second film by writer-director Kang Hyeong-cheol, who previously directed Scandal Makers (2008).[3][4]

Theatrical poster
Revised RomanizationSseoni
Directed byKang Hyeong-cheol
Produced byAhn Byeong-ki[1]
Ahn In-ki
Written byKang Hyeong-cheol
StarringShim Eun-kyung
Kang So-ra
Yoo Ho-jeong
Jin Hee-kyung
Music byKim Jun-seok
CinematographyLee Hyung-deok
Edited byNam Na-yeong
Toilet Pictures
Aloha Pictures
Distributed byCJ Entertainment
Release date
  • 4 May 2011 (2011-05-04)
Running time
124 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
BudgetUS$5.5 million
Box officeUS$51.1 million[2]

Released on 4 May 2011, Sunny was the first film of that year to sell five million tickets in South Korea,[citation needed] and became the second highest-grossing Korean film by the end of the year.[5] As of 20 September 2012, it is the 13th best-selling film of all-time in South Korea. Kang Hyeong-cheol and Nam Na-yeong won Best Director and Best Editing, respectively, at the Grand Bell Awards.[6][7] Actress Kang So-ra won several awards for her role as the teenage girl Ha Chun-hwa.[8]


Im Na-mi (Yoo Ho-jeong), a wealthy housewife and mother, does her daily routine. While things look perfect on the outside (wonderful home, generous husband, beautiful daughter), she is depressed about her life. When she washes her face, she sees wrinkles on her skin. When she asks her husband to visit her mother at the hospital, he replies by giving her money to buy luxury bags, and her daughter expresses similar indifference and annoyance. Na-mi eats breakfast alone every morning while her husband and daughter head to work and school, respectively. She looks outside and notices a group of high school girls who are walking and laughing.[9]

After visiting her mother, Na-mi passes a patient's room with the sign "Ha Chun-hwa," and thinks about her high school life. She asks her chauffeur to take her to the all-girls high school she attended in Seoul. A teenage Na-mi (Shim Eun-kyung) is revealed.

In class, the girls are dusting records and admiring posters of American actors. Many of the girls are wearing American athletic shoe brands. The teacher enters and introduces Na-mi. The students make fun of her country accent, and she becomes embarrassed of her shoes and clothing. There, Na-mi meets Ha Chun-hwa (Kang So-ra), who introduces Na-mi to her group of friends: Kim Jang-mi (Kim Min-young) is a portly girl who is obsessed with her looks and desires cosmetic surgery for her eyes. Hwang Jin-hee (Park Jin-joo), the daughter of a Korean literature professor, swears profusely. Seo Geum-ok (Nam Bo-ra) is a bright student who wants to become a writer; she will hit anyone who messes with her friends. Ryu Bok-hee (Kim Bo-mi) has dreams of becoming Miss Korea; she carries a small hand mirror and makes faces to herself.[10] Jung Su-ji (Min Hyo-rin) is a quiet, mysterious beauty; whenever she speaks to Na-mi, it is always with disdain.[note 1] Na-mi is accepted into their group as their seventh member after she unexpectedly proves herself against a rival group from a different school when she uses her diabetes as a front for spirit possession. Chun-hwa suggests naming their group; they settle on "Sunny," after a night-time radio DJ responds to their letter on air. During this time Na-mi meets Han Joon-ho (Kim Shi-hoo), a friend of Jang mi's brother. She is instantly enamored with him. Throughout the movie, there are flashbacks of the time the two spent together as he becomes Na mi's first love.

Back at the present time, Na-mi returns to Chun-hwa's room and confirms it is indeed her high school friend. She learns that Chun-hwa (Jin Hee-kyung) became a successful businesswoman, but has terminal cancer with two months to live. Chun-hwa then tells her she would like to see Sunny reunited one more time before she dies.[10]

Na-mi hires a private detective to find the members of Sunny. Jang-mi (Go Soo-hee) is struggling as a life insurance sales agent. The foul-mouthed Jin-hee (Hong Jin-hee) married rich, but her husband cheats, and she pretends to be ladylike. Geum-ok (Lee Yeon-kyung) is unemployed and living in a cramped apartment with her overbearing sister-in-law, her sister-in-law's husband, and a newborn. After her mother's salon went bankrupt, Bok-hee (Kim Sun-kyung) had resorted to prostitution; her daughter lives at an orphanage.[11] The detective notes that Su-ji has been exceptionally difficult to find; he recommends posting a newspaper ad. Na-mi also asks the detectives to search for Joon-ho. Eventually, he is found and Na mi goes to visit him. While on her way to see him, she flashes back to the time the group of friends went on a trip together. While on the bus Na-mi draws a portrait of Joon-ho; she later goes in search of him with the intention of giving him the drawing. When she finds him, she is shocked to see him and Su-ji kiss. She leaves in tears and never gives him the picture. Now as an adult, she goes to the record shop Joon-ho owns and sees Joon-ho's son (who looks exactly like the younger Joon-ho). She then gives the now-older Joon-ho (Lee Geung-young) the drawing, and by doing so she is able to let go of her first love.

Chun-hwa passes away before the group manages to get together, but by finding each other, the women rekindle their passion for life and enjoy each other's company. At one point Chun-hwa, Na-mi, Jang-mi and Jin-hee get together to get revenge on the group of girls who are bullying Na-mi's daughter. At Chun-hwa's funeral, Sunny (minus Su-ji), is reunited, but not every woman knows about each other's present struggles. As they are about to leave, Chun-hwa's lawyer (Sung Ji-ru) walks in and asks them if they are Sunny. He reads Chun-hwa's will, which bequeathes that Na-mi will be the leader of Sunny. Jin-hee is given the position of vice-president; she looks disappointed because she expected something monetary. To that, the lawyer explains, "You are already rich" from Chun-hwa. He then reads that, for Jang-mi, Chun-hwa had bought life insurance from her, in the names of all the members of Sunny. Jang-mi is elated that she will finally be number one in her sales for that month. To Geum-ok, Chun-hwa offers her a position at her publishing company, with a chance to become executive manager if she doubles her sales. Chun-hwa leaves Bok-hee a paid-for apartment, so that she may live with her daughter. And after she finishes rehab, she will also receive the ground floor of Geum–ok's building, with a large sum of money, so she can open a hair salon.

After the conclusion of the reading, per Chun-hwa's last wish the women reprise their high school choreography by dancing to "Sunny" in front of Chun-hwa's funeral picture. As they celebrate, Su-ji (Yoon Jung) makes a surprise appearance. The film ends with flashbacks to their teenage selves.



The flashback scenes juxtaposed the fun and silly, drama-filled lives of high school students with the Gwangju Uprising that took place in May 1980. In the film, Na-mi's brother is a university student who participates in the protests. The scenes where Sunny fights the rival gang are backgrounded with the violent clash between the protestors and the military.

The movie's release was timely with the entertainment industry's focus on 1980s musicals, films, and pop music. Western brands and products were abundantly present in the flashback portions of the film. The trendy high school students all wore Nike and Adidas. A billboard for Rocky was visible in the background of the fight between Sunny and their rivals. The music also referenced songs from the 1980s including "Touch by Touch" by Joy, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper,[note 2][10] "Reality" by Richard Sanderson, and Boney M.'s 1976 cover of Bobby Hebb's song "Sunny," as well as the Korean pop songs "In My Dreams" by Jo Duk-bae and "I See" by Nami. Especially the song use in the first and ending scene is "Time after time", sang by Tuck & Patti, original version of Cindy Lauper.

Original soundtrackEdit

The album is comprised by instrumentals composed by music director Kim Jun-seok that express the characters' emotional state. The film also featured a mix of 1980s Korean and Western pop music to evoke nostalgia, and to signify the Western "fad" that swept over students in Korea at the time.

Sunny Original Motion Picture Score
1."시간여행" (Time travel)Kim Jun-seok 
2."Main Theme of Sunny"Kim Jun-seok 
3."Like Mom, Like Daughter"Kim Jun-seok 
4."Shadowing Stealthily"Kim Jun-seok 
5."Nami, blind with love"Kim Jun-seok 
6."Sunny vs. 소녀시대" (Sunny vs. Girls' Generation)Kim Jun-seok 
7."The realization of a just society"Kim Jun-seok 
8."친구를 찾아" (Find a friend)Kim Jun-seok 
9."꿈꾸던 소녀" (Dream girl)Kim Jun-seok 
10."A Little Girl, Nami"Kim Jun-seok 
11."추억의 기차" (Train of memories)Kim Jun-seok 
12."오래된 약속" (An old promise)Kim Jun-seok 
13."Close to my friend"Kim Jun-seok 
14."마지막 선물" (Last gift)Kim Jun-seok 
15."오랜만의 재회" (Reunion)Kim Jun-seok 
16."빙글빙글" (Round and Round)Sunny cast 


The film was released on 4 May 2011 in South Korea.[12] It also received a limited release in the United States in July 2011, screening in Los Angeles, Torrance, New York City, New Jersey, Chicago, Virginia, Washington D.C., Seattle, Texas and Hawaii.[13][14]

Film festivalsEdit

The film has been shown in film festivals worldwide:

Event Location Event Dates Category/Remarks
16th Busan International Film Festival Busan, South Korea 6–14 October 2011 Korean Cinema Today: Panorama *Director's Cut
6th Korean Film Festival in Paris Paris, France 11–18 October 2011 Opening Night Film *European Premiere
13th Mumbai Film Festival Mumbai, India 13–30 October 2011 World Cinema
6th London Korean Film Festival[15] London, England 4–10 November 2011 Contemporary Korean Cinema
10th New York Korean Film Festival New York City, United States 24–26 February 2012
7th Osaka Asian Film Festival Osaka, Japan 9–18 March 2012 Special Screenings
2nd San Diego Asian Film Foundation Spring Showcase San Diego, United States 19–26 April 2012 Opening Night Film
14th Udine Far East Film Festival[16] Udine, Italy 20–28 April 2012 Opening Night Film
16th Fantasia International Film Festival[17] Montreal, Quebec, Canada 19 July–9 August 2012
3rd Korean Film Festival in Australia[18] Sydney, Australia 22–28 September 2012 Closing Night Film
2013 Korean Film Festival[19] Manila, Philippines 18 September −10 October 2013


Box officeEdit

In 2011, the movie sold 7,375,110 tickets, and grossed ₩54,034,324,100 (US$47,068,227), making it the year's second highest grossing Korean film and fourth highest grossing overall film in South Korea.[5][20][21][22] At the end of the movie's run, it had sold 7.38 million admissions, with an additional 90,555 from a director's cut.[5][9]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Recipient Result
5th Mnet 20's Choice Awards
Hot Movie Star Kang So-ra Won
20th Buil Film Awards
Best New Actress Kang So-ra Won
48th Grand Bell Awards
Best Film Sunny Nominated
Best Director Kang Hyeong-cheol Won
Best Supporting Actress Chun Woo-hee Nominated
Best New Actress Kang So-ra Nominated
Best Screenplay Kang Hyeong-cheol Nominated
Best Planning Ahn Byeong-ki, Lee Anna Nominated
Best Editing Nam Na-yeong Won
Best Costume Design Chae Kyung-hwa Nominated
Best Music Kim Jun-seok Nominated
32nd Blue Dragon Film Awards
Best Film Sunny Nominated
Best Director Kang Hyeong-cheol Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Chun Woo-hee Nominated
Best New Actress Kang So-ra Nominated
Best Screenplay Kang Hyeong-cheol Nominated
Best Art Direction Lee Yo-han Nominated
Best Music Kim Jun-seok Nominated
Technical Award Nam Na-yeong (editing) Nominated
19th Korean Culture and Entertainment Awards
Grand Prize (Daesang) for Film Sunny Won
Best New Actress Min Hyo-rin Won
4th Style Icon Awards
Content of the Year Sunny Won
3rd KOFRA Film Awards
Best Director Kang Hyeong-cheol Won
48th Baeksang Arts Awards
Best Film Sunny Nominated
Best Actress Shim Eun-kyung Nominated
Best New Actress Kang So-ra Nominated
Most Popular Actress Kang So-ra Won


Hong Kong television series Never Dance Alone, which aired on TVB in 2014, is reportedly inspired by this movie.[23] The remake is not official.

A Hollywood remake of the movie was announced to be in production since 2016.[24][25]

A Vietnamese remake of the movie, titled Tháng Năm Rực Rỡ (Go Go Sisters) was released on 9 March 2018. It topped the Southeast Asian country’s box office in its opening weekend (collected 490,000 views) and received overwhelming positive feedbacks from the media, movie reviewers, and public audiences.

A Japanese remake of the movie, titled Sunny: Our Hearts Beat Together (Sunny: Tsuyoi Kimochi Tsuyoi Ai, lit. Sunny: Strong Mind Strong Love) was released on 31 August 2018.[26][27]

An Indonesian adaptation remake of the movie, titled Bebas (Glorious Days) was released on 3 October 2019.[28][29][30]


  1. ^ At one point in the film, Na-mi confronts Su-ji and learns that Su-ji's stepmother is from Jeollado, the same province Na-mi is from, making Su-ji automatically biased against Na-mi. The two make up after drinking soju, and crying out their frustrations together.
  2. ^ Although the movie displays events from the democratization movement in 1980, it also features the Cyndi Lauper song that was released in 1983.


  1. ^ Kim, Hyung-seok (2 May 2014). "Korea's Leading Filmmakers Turned Producers". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Sunny Box Office Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  3. ^ "No Secret Ingredient for Success, Says Sunny Director Kang". The Chosun Ilbo. 25 July 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  4. ^ Petkova, Antoniya (April 2012). "Interview: Hyeong-Cheol Kang, director of Sunny". CineVue. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Paquet, Darcy (8 January 2012). "South Korean box office in 2011". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  6. ^ "48th Daejong Film Awards Highlight Year's Best". The Chosun Ilbo. 18 October 2011. Archived from the original on 20 January 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  7. ^ "The Front Line top winner at Korea's Grand Bell Awards". Korean Film Biz Zone. 19 October 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Kang So-ra Soars to Stardom with Sunny". The Chosun Ilbo. 28 May 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  9. ^ a b Edwards, Russell (1 November 2011). "Review: Sunny". Variety. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  10. ^ a b c Wong, Amy (23 October 2011). "Sunny (Korean Film)". YAM Magazine (Yet Another Magazine). Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  11. ^ Lee, Maggie (12 August 2011). "Sunny: Movie Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  12. ^ "Sunny draws 7 million viewers". The Korea Times. 20 July 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  13. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (25 July 2011). "Sunny opening in more US theaters Friday". The Korea Times. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  14. ^ "Sunny Released in U.S." The Chosun Ilbo. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  15. ^ Mitchell, Robert (29 November 2011). "Bittersweet Life: Korean cinema's secret popularity in the UK". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  16. ^ Hwang, Hei-rim (20 April 2012). "Far East Film Festival in Udine highlights 20 Korean films". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  17. ^ "Korean films take over Fantasia, Osian's-Cinefan". Korean Film Biz Zone. 1 August 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  18. ^ "Korean Film Fest in Australia rolls out ambitious 2012 line-up". Korean Film Biz Zone. July 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  19. ^ News, ABS-CBN. "6 Korean movies to screen at film festival". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  20. ^ Kim, Hong-chun (5 March 2012). "KOFIC reports record box office in 2011". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Top issues in the 2011 Korean film industry". Korean Cinema Today. 7 December 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  22. ^ "The Best Selling Films of 2011". Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  23. ^ "Synopsis Of Never Dance Alone". 8 April 2014. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  24. ^ "Hollywood remake of 'Sunny' under production". Yonhap News Agency. 27 October 2016.
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Ohne to direct Japanese remake of 'Sunny'". Korea Joongang Daily. 3 October 2017.
  27. ^
  28. ^ Rafikasari, Diana (5 September 2019). "Adaptasi Box Office Korea Film Bebas Tayang 3 Oktober 2019". SINDOnews. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  29. ^ Lukman, Josa (26 September 2019). "Mira Riri Filmmaking Duo Bring 1990s Back with Bebas". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  30. ^ [1]

External linksEdit