The movie starts with as Nammy decided to gather her friends before Chun-hwa dies, who were once best friends in their school years under a group, “Sunny.” Nammy looks back her old days where their friendship begun as friends who later become Sunny encompassing her when transfering to school in Seoul from countryside being treated as an outsider. They were always together: they shared their dreams, protected each other fighting against anything threaten their unity. Going back and forth, it contrasts their past selves and current selves, which delineates that they have changed and their dreams faded away. Looking for her friends, Nammy realizes she used to have true friends and her identity, and this maximizes as she watches the video of which Nammy and her friends talk about their future selves.
“Sunny” highly commercially succeeded dealing with girls’ friendship, which is relatively not popular subject for films in Korea, based on the idea that “Generally speaking, buddy films have been associated with boys rather than girls. The specific socio-cultural system in Korean society presumes ‘true’ friendship exists only between men” (Shin). Shin explained the reason as “traditional patriarchal system has confined women to the domestic arena, thus preventing them from forming strong social ties with anyone outside the family.” Due to this reason, “Sunny” drew a number of female audiences empathizing their hidden desire that they once had true friends- even though not as a group- and were subjects of their lives rather than someone’s wife or someone’s mom.
However, on the other side of the coin, there are some bitter factors underlying in the movie.The main theme appears throughout the movie is violence, which is actually a favorite one used in movies when they talk about strong brotherhood. The exemplary film is “friend (Chin-gu)” released in 2001. With a subject of gangsters (Jo-pok), the film used violence to show loyalty among friends. “Sunny” has parallel with violence when it comes to talking about friendship. Even though it was not a gang, they had a form of violence group in a mischievous way. Under the group of “Sunny,” they fight with their rivalry group from different school and protect each other when anyone of them got in trouble, such as when Nammy was bullied by Sang-mi for hanging out with Sunny members. This tendency goes on when they grow up. Sunny members get together to beat up students at a park who bullied Nammy’s daughter. The reason why their violence seems less uncomfortable to audience is because their violence was based on righteousness, which is lacking in contemporary Korean society where indiscriminate violence is prevalent leading to a number of suicides. It is applausable that the movie was successful enough to touch on nostalgia of a sense of justice embedded in the generation of 1980s in Korean society and loyalty among friends, but it showed a limitation traditionally confining in a form of violence.
Another bitter side shown in the movie was the way grown up “Sunny” members retightens their friendship; materialism. Adult Nammy found Bok-hee and tried to talk to her, who once dreamed of being Miss Korea but became a barmaid. At that scene, the host of the bar gives a cold shoulder to Bok-hee for bringing her female friends not male guests. What Nammy does there is to pay a big check to the host to keep her friend, and Bok-hee and Jang-mi praised and flattered Nammy for the courageous attitude. This scene reminds that, in the contemporary era, financial fortune is a premise in maintaining a friendship and a person who can financially afford can affordably conduct a justice. Also, at Chun-hwa’s funeral, materialism was the way that made adult Sunny members happy. Chun-hwa gave away her wealth to each member and the movie ends with dancing members who are deeply touched with Chun-hwa’s generosity. It left a question whether it should have been the way that satisfied the members was a material award.
The movie comforted Korean women’s nostalgia as if older Nammy embraced young Nammy in the movie. It reminded that Korean women were once subjects in their lives and had their own friends during that time, which was sweet enough reminiscing their younger selves. However, after the sweetness, bitterness comes along reflecting the way the movie educe the nostalgia.