This movie will make you laugh so hard but in the end it will make you cry so much

These emotional movies that seem to hit the core of the heart seems to be making hits these days. It might start to become a trend or maybe it already has. It’s a good movie but nothing amazing to the point I am not shocked why it was such a big hit in Korea or anything like that. It just didn’t grab me emotionally all that much most of the way through. And some parts seemed just too far-fetched or a bit ridiculous. But I guess it had to go in that direction in order to make this story work. The bonding elements just seemed a bit rushed and forced at times and just didn’t have that well incorporated flow. The whole bonding with the inmates has been done before but better and when it comes the relationship between the father and daughter. It reminded me of the film “I am Sam” which is a better bond between a mentally handicapped father and daughter movie. The relationship between the inmates and the mentally handicapped father and daughter relationship is done alright to build up for the end. And the main selling point is the near the end part, which actually got me despite the mediocre build up. These emotional movies that seem to hit the core of the heart seems to be making hits these days. It might start to become a trend or maybe it already has. It’s a good movie but nothing amazing to the point I am not shocked why it was such a big hit in Korea or anything like that. It just didn’t grab me emotionally all that much most of the way through. And some parts seemed just too far-fetched or a bit ridiculous. But I guess it had to go in that direction in order to make this story work. The bonding elements just seemed a bit rushed and forced at times and just didn’t have that well incorporated flow. The whole bonding with the inmates has been done before but better and when it comes the relationship between the father and daughter. It reminded me of the film “I am Sam” which is a better bond between a mentally handicapped father and daughter movie. The relationship between the inmates and the mentally handicapped father and daughter relationship is done alright to build up for the end. And the main selling point is the near the end part, which actually got me despite the mediocre build up.


A Korean Masterpiece that will tear your heart into pieces.

Ryu Seung-ryong as Lee Yong-gu
Kal So-won as Ye-sung (Child)

Park Shin-hye as Ye-sung (Adult)
Oh Dal-su as So Yang-ho
Jung Jin-young as Jang Min-hwan
Park Won-sang as Choi Chun-ho
Kim Jung-tae as Kang Man-beom
Jung Man-sik as Shin Bong-shik
Kim Ki-cheon as Old man Da-do

The miracle lies between the fun and emotion.

Ye-sung is a lawyer defending her late father for a crime he did not commit. While leaving the prison court due to the successful trial, Ye-sung notices a balloon being caught on barbed wire and thinks back about the past (flashback).

Back in 1997, 6 year old Ye-sung and her father, Yong-gu (who is mentally disabled with the brain of a 6 year old), stare into a store window admiring a Sailor Moon backpack. Yong-gu promises to buy Ye-sung the backpack tomorrow when he gets paid. However, in the midst of their plan making, the police commissioner and his daughter purchase it before Yong-gu can. When childlike Yong-gu rushes in to grab the backpack and insist it belongs to Ye-sung because they saw it first, he is assaulted by the police commissioner and kicked out of the store. After the incident the two return to home bagless, slightly battered, but in high spirits. Yong-gu and Ye-sung only seem to have each other and the bond between father and daughter is immeasurable. As young as Ye-Sung is she takes charge and parents her father the best her 6 year old self can. They even have a special “goodbye” routine where Ye-sung counts to three and Yong-gu turns around for them both to pull their silliest faces. The next day, after work, the commissioner’s daughter spots Yong-gu and tries to show him another store selling the same backpack. In a complete freak accident the little girl slips running on the market’s icy pavement and a brick drops on her head. Yong-gu is arrested for rape and murder after he (in a vain attempt) performs CPR on the child, and spotted by bystander who mistakenly takes it as an act of sexual assault.

Yong-gu is sent to prison, where he shares a jail cell with five other inmates (prisoners), all who initially dislike him for his falsely accused crime and mental disability. One day, Yong-gu saves the life of his cellmate and prison gang leader, So Yang-ho, from being stabbed by a rival prison gang leader. So Yang-ho then offers to help Yong-gu in any way he can to return the favor. Yong-gu tells So Yang-ho that he wants to see his daughter Ye-sung. The inmates are successful in smuggling Ye-sung into the prison and reuniting her with Yong-gu when her choir visits the prison for a performance. The little girl is introduced to the cast of characters that is her dad’s cell mates and gets help being hidden away when officers come. She manages to stay for a night until being found out the next morning when her choir reports her missing and the warden goes on a search. In fact, the warden knows that Yong-gu was not the assailant of the girl (after Yong-gu saved him and another inmate from an attempted arson), but he could not do anything in front of the commissioner’s power to help him. He is however able to allow Ye-sung to visit Yong-gu everyday after school.

Before the trial took place, Yong-gu was trained by room 7 inmates on how to answer the prosecution potential question and he earnestly train and become proficient in answering the question posed by his inmate roommates. Ye-sung, the prison warden and the room 7 inmates all attend Yong-gu’s trial to prove his innocence. Unfortunately, the commissioner calls and beats Yong-gu before the trial, threatening to kill his daughter if he does not confess. Left with no other choice, Yong-gu sacrifices himself by lying that he killed the commissioner’s daughter to protect Ye-sung. Yong-gu is then sentenced with a death penalty on December 23, which happens to fall on Ye-sung’s birthday. The inmates, feeling sorry for Yong-gu, decide to build a hot air balloon for their grand plan for Yong-gu to escape. During a prison concert, the inmates send Yong-gu and Ye-sung on the balloon and effortlessly try to stop the guards from capturing Yong-gu, but the balloon’s rope is held by barbed wire. The inmates and Yong-gu then celebrate Ye-sung’s birthday before he is executed. Soon, the executor calls Yong-gu. Yong-gu and Ye-sung started to cry and hugged each other, begging the executor to not kill Yong-gu. Yong-gu later dies from the execution.

Inside the court 16 years later (in the present), Ye-sung (now an adult and adopted by the warden) emotionally states that she will forgive Yong-gu for his actions. The head lawyer exonerates Yong-gu by giving him a sentence of innocence and the permission to re-investigate the girl’s death, to the joy of the released room 7 inmates, the warden and now tearful Ye-sung.

The scene then moves back to the beginning of the film. Ye-sung then notices a vision of Yong-gu and her younger self on the hot air balloon waving goodbye to her. She then tearfully says goodbye to her father as the balloon flies away to the sky, implying that Yong-gu is free and leaving for heaven as well as symbolising that Ye-sung is finally letting her father go.

Movie Information

Release date: January 23, 2013 (South Korea)
Director: Lee Hwan-kyung
Box office: US$80.3 million
Language: Korean
Production company: Fineworks/CL Entertainment
Cinematography: Kang Seung-gi

Peter Ahn

Peter Ahn

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