Arya's In-Flight Asian Film Festival


You Are My Sunshine (2005)
Director: Park Jin-pyo
South Korea

Maybe it's a cultural thing (as I have been told in the past by friends living in Korea), or maybe I just tend to gravitate to movies like these, but there are a lot of Korean romantic comedies that shift their lighthearted tone abruptly midway, unsuspectingly turning into gritty tragedies. You Are My Sunshine is one of them—beginning as a diabetically sweet story of a simple farmer boy falling in love with and relentlessly courting a sexy coffee bar hostess (with a more lurid past). Because of how slowly the relationship develops, you'd think that their marriage would be the endgame for this story.

Far from it. About halfway into the movie (spoilers, I guess, even though this is on the official synopsis), her past comes back to haunt her and she returns to being a prostitute. When it comes out that she has AIDS, the cops arrest her and refuse to believe that she was unaware of her spreading the disease. Meanwhile, farmboy is still so in love that he refuses to abandon her, which angers his family for shaming their name. Lots and lots of crying in the second half, as it takes the shape of an entirely different movie altogether, which, again, I'm told is quite normal for Korean rom-coms. The transition doesn't feel jarring, which is good; the shift in tone feels like a plot development rather than a "gotcha," which would have been tacky given the subject matter.

It's a highly melodramatic tearjerker, there's no way around that, but it's a well-meaning highly melodramatic tearjerker that's absorbingly well-acted by the two leads, even if the spirited bawling and swelling music bar the emotional content from coming across as genuine.

US release probably never at this point, unless Park Jin-pyo manages himself an international hit someday.

Arya Ponto • Contributor

As former Editor of JPP, Arya likes to entertain peeps with his thoughts on pop culture, when he's not busy watching Battle Royale for the 200th time. He lives in Brooklyn with a comic book collection that's always the most daunting thing to move with, and writes for


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