Chunhyang (Hangul: 춘향뎐; RR: Chunhyangjeon) is a Korean Pansori film directed by Im Kwon-taek, with a screenplay by Kang Hye-yeon and Kim Myung-gon. Distributed by CJ Entertainment, the film was released on January 29, 2000 in South Korea. Lee Hyo-jeong and Jo Seung-woo played Chunhyang and Mongryong, respectively.
To date, there have been more than sixteen works based on this narrative, including three North Korean films. Im Kwon-taek's Chunhyang presents a new interpretation of this oral tradition but it is created for a more global audience." It is the first Chunhyang movie that lyrics of Pansori became part of the screenplay. Therefore, the contents of the Pansori reappear as scenes in the movie. The film uses the framing device of a present-day narrator who, accompanied by a drummer, sings the story of Chunhyang in front of a responsive audience. The film flashes back and forth between the singer's presentation and scenes of Mongryong.
It was entered into the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. The film is the first Korean film which was presented at the 2000 Telluride Film Festival. At the 2000 Asia Pacific Film Festival, it won a Special Jury Award. It also won an award for Best Narrative at the Hawaii International Film Festival in 2000.
The film is told through pansori, a traditional Korean form of storytelling that seeks to narrate through song. It is based on Chunhyangga, a traditional Korean legend and is set in 18th century Korea.
Lee Mongryong, a governor's son, falls in love and marries a beautiful girl Chunhyang Sung, the daughter of a courtesan. Their marriage is kept a secret from the governor who would immediately disown Lee if he found that his son married beneath him. The governor gets posted to Seoul and Mongryong is forced to leave his young wife behind, promising to come back for her when he passes the official exam.
After Mongryong leaves Namwon where Mongryong and Chunhyang first meets, new governor, Byun Hakdo, comes and wants Chunhyang for himself. When she refuses, stating that she already has a husband and will forever remain faithful to her beloved, the governor punishes her by flogging. Meanwhile, back in Seoul, Lee passes the test with the highest score and becomes an officer. Three years have passed and Lee Mongryong returns to the town on the King's mission. There, he finds out that his wife is to be beaten to death on the governor's birthday as a punishment for disobeying his lust. The governor, very corrupted and greedy, is arrested by Mongryong. The two lovers are finally united.Lee Hyo-jeong - Chunhyang
Jo Seung-woo - Mongryong
Kim Sung-nyeo - Wolmae
Lee Jung-hun - Governor Byun
Kim Hak-yong - Bangja
Choi Jin-young - Governor Lee
Hong Kyung-yeun - kisaeng leader
Cho Sang-hyun - pansori singer
Kim Myung-hwan - pansori drummer
Lee Hae-ryong - Lord of Soonchun
Gok Jun-hwam - Lord of Okgwa
Yoon Keun-mo - Lord of Goksung
Lee Hye-eun - Hyangdan
According to Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times, "Instead the story is freshened through the use of a Korean singing storyteller, a pansori singer, to provide a narration, belting out the song from a stage in front of an audience. The pansori, or song, is performed under a proscenium arch to highlight the ritual elements of folk tales. Even though much of what the pansori tells us unfolds before the cameras at the same moment, the forcefulness of the performance lends another layer of feeling to the picture."
Harvey Karten reviewed on the Internet Movie Database, "Costumes, art direction, and shots of the landscape are magnificent. Im Kwon Taek's direction is on target not only in the portrayal of 18th Century Korea with its courtesans, bureaucrats, and governors with unlimited power, but in his vignettes of the lovers as they coyly take part in marriage- night antics, later to become madly in love with each other as they playfully roll in the hay."2000 Telluride Film Festival—Film Presented
2000 Asia Pacific Film Festival—Special Jury Award
2000 Cannes Film Festival—Palme d'Or Nominee
2000 Hawaii International Film Festival —Best Feature Film
2000 Pusan International Film Festival—Netpac Award
2001 Singapore International Film Festival—Best Asian Director