Films | Movies

Hwangjiny (2007)

Korean title: 황진이 (Hwangjini)
Directed by: Jang Yoon-hyeon

What’s popping:

Hwangjiny is one difficult movie to watch because it leaves the viewer wondering what on earth is going on.

It’s not convoluted, but it does get absurd. Also, there’s no solid storyline or “train of thought” as the story unfolds. What were screenwriters Kim Eun-jeong and Kim Hyeon-jeong thinking when they wrote the screenplay?

First of all, the romance, which is central to the plot, lacks oomph. The chemistry between the legendary courtesan Hwangjiny (portrayed by the beautiful Song Hye-kyo) and the dashing rouge hero Nomi (Yoo Ji-tae) is non-existent. Sure they make a gorgeous onscreen couple, but their romance remains unconvincing.

Hwangjiny and Nomi are childhood friends. She is the daughter of a rich and powerful man while Nomi was a servant boy. He fled from the household after an incident and the story picks up after he returns many years later.

But soon, a dark secret about Hwangjiny’s past is revealed and she is forced to relinquish her position in the family to become a gisaeng.

Tortured: Nomi (Yoo Ji-tae) is upset because he turned
his woman Hwangjiny (Song Hye-kyo) into a prosti gisaeng

Horror of horrors, Nomi confesses that he is the man who divulged her secret because he wants her for himself. Since he is still a servant, which makes her still out of his reach, he thought he could make her his by hurling dirt on her good reputation.

However, he feels too much guilt after the nefarious deed is done so decides to leave Hwangjiny (even after she begs him to stay and take her as his lover!) to live a life as a tortured, nomadic scoundrel.

What the fish is going on?! You got the chick, dude! You destroyed her life. She has no one except you and you b100dy leave her? Sick man.

And so the movie continues with their separate existence. Hwangjiny rises to become the most wanted gisaeng in the region. She’s smart and apparently very skillful in the art of seduction. However, we only get to see a display of her skill once, when she takes on an uppity scholar and eventually shames him in the presence of his friends.

Scholar: Hwanjiny (Song) ran out of paper but discovered an
ingenious way to write her thoughts down

The virginal and angelic Song Hye-kyo is in the lead, so don’t expect Untold Scandal-like steamy scenes. The seduction and love scenes here are PG-rated or for the Malaysian audience, U-rated.

Meanwhile, Nomi rises to become a notorious robber – the most wanted man in the region. When the star-crossed lovers cross paths again, Hwangjiny devises a plan to prevent Nomi from being arrested and executed.

Scoundrel: Nomi is a 나쁜 남자

It may sound simple and straightforward here, but try watching the flick. At times, you can’t quite make heads or tails of the situation.

Poor Song Hye-kyo, I think she tried her best – looking gorgeous and all – but her character, along with Nomi, just didn’t click with the audience.

As a viewer, I didn’t feel a connection to Hwangjiny at all, thus could not sympathise with her. As for Nomi, I guess you know how I feel about him already.

Two beautiful yet underdeveloped characters are like pretty book covers without substance. Nice to look at, but a waste of time and/or money.

The plot:

Supposedly a take on the life and love of famous 16th century gisaeng Hwangjiny, who is noted for her exceptional beauty, charming quick-wit and extraordinary intellect.

Built-in umbrella & netting: The clever Hwanjiny devises a way to
keep pesky insects at bay

Hwangjiny The Movie attempts (but miserably fails) to shed light on the legendary courtesan.

Watch it:

Orchid bought the DVD.

Fellow Malaysians, beware of the copies distributed by a certain All Zone Entertainments. The English subtitles don’t make sense at all, so you’ll have to switch to the Bahasa Malaysia subtitles.

Other language subs are Chinese and Korean. Don’t know whether they work as well as the BM one because I can’t read Chinese.

Pics credit: HanCinema

Other Hwangjiny-related entries:
Hwangjini on the catwalk

Like the review? Check out K-popped!‘s other reviews here.

17 thoughts on “Hwangjiny (2007)

  • Yeah i bought the DVD – despite not hearing anything good about the movie. I was thoroughly attracted to the beautiful costumes.

    The movie came with really bad English subs and i didn’t understand most of it. Thanks for the review Liz. Seen it long ago but had nothing to write.

    The movie is forgettable. Granted the costumes, scenes and stars look good, but then there’s no substance. Very disappointing. The romance between the leads lacked passion and left me totally unsatisfied. I didn’t warm up to SHK’s Hwangjini at all.

    After all your comments, i guess the drama with Ha Ji-won as Hwangjini is way better.

  • Happy that I’m not the only one unhappy with the movie. I orginally don’t like historical stuffs, I thought I wouldn’t be able to watch the drama but heck, it rocked ! Ha Ji-won is sexy and pure at the same time. SHK is definitely stunning but lacks some kind of charm that can actuall draw the audience in (read: acting)

  • The MOVIE Song Hye Gyo version bored me to tears.

    Ha Ji-won on the other hand, was beautiful and her acting was superb.

    the hwangjini drama is filled with so much emotions that it touched my heart (:
    Watch that instead

  • giddygirl108

    I watched this movie one, boring day and I agree with you on the lack of chemistry between the two “lovers”. I would have to say that the movie was also pretty bad because Song Hye Kyo isn’t a great actress. Her acting was pretty flat throughout the movie.

  • As beautiful as I think Song Hye Kyo is I thought Ha Jiwon played a more striking version of the character.

  • amy_meteorgdn

    I fall asleep after just 10 minutes watching this movie.

    It happened 3-4 times.

    However, I managed to watched till the end @ 5 attempts.


  • I agree the movie HwangJiny is a bit boring. but for me, it was very toching. the movie director tried to be replete & full with original novel written by HongSeokJung(North Korean Novelist)
    I’ve read the novel and it focus on her human being, and the background of her life. So each scene of the movie reminds me of the story written in beautiful style. anyway, I’ve seen a lot of different virsion of HwangJiny since when I was little girl. She is real person of 16th century, and we learn her poems at school, and sometime it come out on our Korean literature exam ^^
    Sorry to my bad English writing skill. I just want to share more information with you guys..hee~

  • i love song hye gyo but i thought i wasted about two hours of my time with this film… i guess i expected too much…

  • I watched the drama and it was just mind boggling. I was hoping the movie would be the same but I read the reviews and it’s not.

  • MochaMatari

    The drama was MUCH MUCH better! Ha Ji-Won did a tremendous job as Hwang Jini!

  • I loved this movie despite its faults… The first half wasn’t bad, quite thrilling actually, it was the 2nd half that really got me annoyed… The ending was bleh, it didn’t quite do it for me… SHK was gorgeous as always and Nomi*drools* was, well, u get my drift… The chemistry was slightly lacking because they barely spent any sweet moments together so i didn’t really understand where all this love business came from… Anyways I wish they scrapped the 2nd half and rewrote something else because the first half totally rocked.

    BTW I’ve watched the drama and I only liked the episodes with Jang Geun Suk though HJW was wonderful as always…

  • i’ve watched both. the drama were sooooo good!! trust me.
    but the movie is a bit mellow. i think because the script wanted to show the other side of hwangjinyi. the cold side. but then, i think its a good thing. if it already have drama, why make the same?

  • maybe people with a better understanding of korean culture and who can watch it without subs can better appreciate this movie but it was actually quite beautifully done and made sense all the way through. (i can never fully trust subs no matter how well translated. it’s extremely difficult to portray the same feeling especially with a historical piece such as this.) the movie portrayed a much more realistic view of a ginyeo’s life than the drama. i actually only enjoyed the drama for the dances & clothes and much more appreciated the plot for the movie (which was closer to the actual story passed down in history too). the drama was also just a love story whereas the movie actually portrays the life story of hwangjini (not that there wasn’t a love story theme to the movie also).

  • meiruo_chan

    I agreed too. This movie plot is totally absurd compared to the drama. The drama version is beautifully done. Well, I guess maybe the scriptwriter for the movie don’t want to be compared with the drama so they twist the plot.

  • Yes! Yes! I agreed, the drama version by Ha Ji-won is worth watching compared to the movie version.

  • OMG u guys should watch the hwangjini drama staring hajiwon..that one TOTALLY ROCKED… she was gorgeous…and it never showed her as a prostitute like this movie shows hwangjini to be..rather the drama showed her as an artist..and a true dancer whose true happiness and joy is magnificently portrayed in her hajiwon!

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