Mother (2009 film)

Mother (2009 film)

Theatrical poster
Hangul 마더
RR Madeo
MR Madŏ
Directed by Bong Joon-ho
Produced by Choi Jae-won
Seo Woo-sik
Written by Bong Joon-ho
Park Eun-kyo
Starring Kim Hye-ja
Won Bin
Jin Goo
Yoon Je-moon
Music by Lee Byung-woo
Cinematography Hong Kyeong-pyo
Editing by Moon Sae-kyoung
Studio CJ Entertainment
Distributed by CJ Entertainment (South Korea)
Optimum Releasing (UK)
Magnolia Pictures (USA)
Release date(s) 16 May 2009 (Cannes Film Festival)
28 May 2009 (South Korea)
Running time 128 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean
Gross revenue $17,108,773

Mother (Hangul: 마더; RR: Madeo) is a 2009 South Korean drama film directed by Bong Joon-ho, starring Kim Hye-ja and Won Bin.



Kim Hye-ja, a veteran Korean actress, plays an unnamed widow living alone with her only son, selling medicinal herbs in a small town in southern South Korea while doing unlicensed acupuncture to the town's women on the side. Her son Do-joon is shy, with an intellectual disability. She dotes on him and scolds him for hanging out with Jin-tae, a local ne'er-do-well.

A high school girl is discovered dead on a rooftop in town, shocking the residents and pressuring the incompetent police to find the killer. With only circumstantial evidence placing Do-joon near the scene of the crime, the police are happy with their cursory investigation and arrest the boy. His defense attorney is unreliable, and the police trick Do-joon into signing a confession, leaving him facing a long jail sentence. The police could not figure out why and who would display the girl's dead body on the rooftop where the entire town is in plain view.

The mother, horrified and unconvinced that Do-joon is even capable of murder, gets involved in unraveling the details of the murder and the background of the victim to try and prove her son's innocence. She scours the town, uncovering salacious details of the girl's life, allying with Jin-tae, who was surprisingly sympathetic towards her plight, and unsettling everyone around her in her determined quest for justice. The mother's investigation and search for the real murderer takes her to an old man at his junkyard.

At the drop of a hint by an old man, the town's junkyard keeper, that Do-joon may have actually committed the girl's murder, the mother, in a fit of rage and denial, murders the old man and burns down the junkyard along with his body. Later on, the police, unbeknownst to the mother, captures who the police believe to be the real perpetrator of the girl's murder, and Do-joon is freed from the jail. By then, the mother could not deal with all her confused state of emotions, especially when Do-joon tells his mother that the reason why the killer may have left the girl's body on the rooftop is perhaps to allow the town's people to see her and bring some medical assistance.

The movie ends with a similar setting as the beginning where the mother is emotionlessly dancing away her weariness of the world around her.


  • Kim Hye-ja as Hye-ja
  • Won Bin as Do-joon
  • Jin Goo as Jin-tae
  • Yoon Je-moon as Je-moon


Mother competed in the Un Certain Regard category at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.[1] The film had its U.S. premiere in February 2010 as part of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival[2] and received a limited U.S. theatrical release in March 2010.[3]


The film was selected as South Korea's official submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards.[4] Kim-Hye-ja won Best Performance by an actress for the film at the 2009 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.[5] It won the awards for best film, best screenwriter, and best actress at the 4th Asian Film Awards.[6] It won the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards 2010.[7]


External links

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