Ubisoft Presents Fantasia 2008

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Shadows in the Palace


Canadian Premiere

WINNER : Best Actress, Jin-hie Park, Fantasia Film Festival

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“Agatha Christie-style suspense crossed with the meticulous period detail of KING AND THE CLOWN”- Lee Hyo-won, THE KOREA TIMES


Director: Kim Mee-jung
Screenplay: Kim Mee-jung
Cast: Kim Nam-jin, Park Jin-hie, Seo Yeong-hie
Producers: Won Jung-sim
Distributor: CJ Entertainment


In the time of the Joseon Dynasty, the royal palace is a world divided, its halves rarely if ever meeting. In a hushed atmosphere of silent subservience and whispered secrets, the court’s female servants live only to attend to the cares and concerns of the royal family—or so it seems, until dark and frightening occurrences disturb the placid veil of decorum.

The queen has given her lord no son, but his concubine Hee-bin has, and the queen mother is coldly driving for an official adoption. Sensing the precariousness of her position, Hee-bin holds her ground. The tension is pierced by the discovery of Hee-bin’s closest servant, apparently dead by her own doing. The diligent and unflappable court medic Chun-ryung, however, inspects the body and uncovers evidence not only of foul play, but that the maid had given birth at some point. A clear violation of the oath of celibacy the women servants have sworn, such a revelation might have led to a terrible demise, and the implications within the cloistered confines of the king’s palace are dire. Against the commands of her superiors, the intrepid Chun-ryung follows the clues on a path that may lead her beyond the realm of the living.

A graceful, elegant costume drama evoking the lush yet suffocating heights of medieval Korean society, SHADOWS IN THE PALACE conceals within the folds of its royal finery a grand, delightfully noir detective story shaded with chilling tones of the supernatural. It’s also a perceptive exposition of the bonds and burden under which women strained in a system that spited them so utterly, twisting and stunting some while others cradled flames of defiance in their hearts. Produced and directed by women—Kim Mee-jeung, who debuts in the director’s chair here, cut her teeth working on THE KING AND THE CLOWN, a similarly resonant period piece—the film affords all but nothing of its screen time to males, presenting instead a rich and intricate tapestry of womanhood, threaded with strands both light as gold and dark as blood spilled with malice.

—Rupert Bottenberg