Humor with a Deeper Meaning

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                      A young Na-Mi in the midst of the fight with the rival girl group.

What comes across as the final breaking point between the two rival girl groups in Seoul, in the critically acclaimed film Sunny, is actually a representation of the frustration felt by Koreans under the rule of a military regime throughout the 1980’s. Director Kang Hyung Chul seamlessly blends together humor and history throughout the film with subtle messages that almost all Koreans can relate to.

Sunny, which follows a group of friends, flashes between past and present, offering the viewer a glimpse into the friends’ lives growing up in 1980’s Korea and what became of them 25 years after high school. One climatic scene occurs between the two rival girl groups of Seoul. Tensions had been rising, and this scene exemplifies the breaking point; the fight.

Chul has the fight take place in the midst of a riot between civilians and the military, yet the girls are only focused on each other; completely oblivious to the other fight that surrounds them. On the surface, this scene is quite humorous because the girls are seen ripping each other’s hair out, and doing crazy stunts that would realistically never happen. At one point, the two “girliest girls” are clawing at each other because they don’t actually know how to fight.

However, this scene has a lot more to it than what simply meets the eye. While it’s humorous to watch the girl groups go at eachother, the scene surrounding them alludes to something much more serious in Korea’s History. Throughout most of the 1980’s Korea experienced a lot of political turbulence and was ruled under a military regime. With the public upset at the government, many riots and uprisings took place during this time, especially by students. The bloodiest riot, in May of 1980, has been coined the Gwangju Massacre. It is estimated that almost 200 hundred people lost their lives and an additional 850 were injured.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only riot during the ’80’s. In June, 1987, what has become known as the June Democracy Movement occurred with more than a million civilians and students participating. Eventually, Korea was given direct presidential elections as well as a restoration of civil rights.

The riot scene in Sunny, as humorous as it is, holds a much deeper meaning. It represents the struggles that Koreans faced under a military regime in the 1980’s as well as the fights they put up against it, even though not all were successful. Koreans can relate to this scene because  not only did they experience these riots first hand but they also fought for their rights to be returned to them.

Sunny won Chul Best Director at the Daejong Film Awards, and was also screened at the London Korean Film Festival. By providing laughs to viewers, Chul was able to create a scene, as well as a movie, that generated humor, but with a deeper meaning.

Sources:

History of South Korea. Wikipedia. March 20, 2013. Web. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_South_Korea#Fifth_Republic_1979-1987

James Mudge. Sunny (2011) Movie Review. Beyond Hollywood.com. 8 December 2011. Web. March 20, 2013. http://www.beyondhollywood.com/sunny-2011-movie-review/

Google Images. March 20, 2013. Web. http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lxkdzlm9bP1r4xx5oo1_1280.gif

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