Scen.: Lim Hee-jae. F.: Lee Hyung-pyo. M.: Kim Young-hee. Scgf.: Gang Seong-beom. Mus.: Jeong Yoon-joo. Int.: Choi Eun-hee (Seong Chun-hyang), Kim Jin-kyu (Lee Mong-ryong), Do Kum-bong (Hyang-dan), Heo Chang-kang (Bang-ja), Lee Yea-chun (Byeon Hak-do), Han Eun-jin (Wolmae). Prod.: Shin Films Co., Ltd.. DCP 4K. D.: 144’. Col.
Based on one of Korea’s most cherished love stories, Chunhyangjeon (The Story of Chunhyang), this is about a courtesan’s daughter and nobleman’s son falling for each other. The tale was originally performed as a pansori (traditional Korean musical drama) during the Joseon era, later as popular literature and finally adapted to the screen more than any other story in Korea. Each era and each technological advancement in the cinema led to the production of a new Chunhyangjeon. It first appeared as a silent feature in 1923, then as Korea’s first talkie in 1935, and later as Shin Sang-ok’s 1961 adaptation, which was the first CinemaScope colour film in Korea. There have been some 20 other adaptations of the story since, including Im Kwon-taek’s Chunhyangjeon presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000.
Shin Sang-ok was one of the most prominent directors of the golden age of Korean cinema. Seong Chun-hyang broke all box office records at the time, and was one of many collaborations with his wife, the actress and star Choi Eun-hee. Coincidentally, another star director-actor couple, Hong Seong-ki and Kim Ji-mi, also produced a film based on the same story, at around the same time. However, Shin and Choi’s film came to be seen as the definitive version. The film makes dynamic use of the widescreen format, inventive lighting, and the pansori soundtrack carefully selected for key scenes. These techniques combined with a well-structured plot, magnificent performances from the cast, and even well-timed moments of comic relief which lend a sense of rhythm, make Seong Chun-hyang a testament to the greatness of 1960s Korean cinema.