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Film / My Sassy Girl

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Gyeon-woo and "Girl"

My Sassy Girl (엽기적인 그녀) is a South Korean romantic comedy movie from 2001, written and directed by Kwak Jae-yong. It was a massive hit when released in Korea, and has spawned an American remake, a Japanese drama series remake (Ryokiteki na Kanojo), a Bollywood version (Ugly Aur Pagli), a Tollywood version and a Chinese sequel named My Sassy Girl 2. The events in the movie are more or less a true story, based on series of love letters that were initially posted online.

The story is mostly told through a flashback. The plot basically involves Gyeon-woo, a milquetoast college student, who falls in love with a crazy domineering girl (who remains unnamed in the film) that he meets on the train. As she calls him "honey," and people berate him for not taking care of his girlfriend properly, he feels the responsibility to take care of her, and help her deal with whatever issues she has. This turns out to be quite a task.

While Gyeon-woo, played by Cha Tae-hyun, plays his part excellently and with no hint of irony, the star of the movie is without any doubt Jun Ji-hyun as the titular sassy girl, who comes off as simultaneously infuriating and utterly charming.

The American remake is considered to be extremely embarrassing.


  • Arc Words: The Girl mentions at one point that she thinks UFOs are time machines and that she'll meet someone from the future. Near the end of the film, she meets what is implied to be an elderly Gyeon-woo from the future, traveling with - you guessed it - a UFO.
  • Award-Bait Song: "I Believe" by Shin Seung-hun.
  • Boy Meets Girl
  • Catchphrase: "Wanna die?"
  • Chekhov's Gunwoman: Gyeon-woo's Aunt, mentioned many times, but seen only in the finale.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Several:
    • The Girl just happens to be riding the same subway as Gyeon-woo, her late boyfriend’s cousin and the person she was supposed to go on a blind date with that day;
    • The police just happen to bust the love motel, and more specifically the room that Gyeon-woo and The Girl are staying in although it is implied that the Police were specifically called by one of the Girl’s concerned relatives after Gyeon-woo answers her phone, recklessly says that she is sleeping next to him and gives them the address of the love motel;
    • The girl that passes by the restaurant (that he went to to get away from her) Gyeon-woo and his friends are drinking at just happens to be the titular Girl;
    • The soldier just happens to have the same birthday as The Girl, upstaging Gyeon-woo's attempt at romantic fireworks and the merry-go-round.
  • Creator Cameo: The man drinking to the left of Gyeon-woo at the food stand when the girl chases after him is the director of the film.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: The eponymous character herself slowly opens up her feeling towards Gyeon-woo.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Discussed Trope, when the Girl tells a series of morbid tales that involve a pair of lovers who discovers that one of them has cancer. When Gyeon-woo questions this, she justifies it based on the trend that Korean dramas at the time often used someone being diagnosed with cancer as a source of Wangst.
  • Dirty Coward: Gyeon-woo, though it's Played for Laughs.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: The Girl regularly delivers punches hard enough to give Gyeon-woo bloody noses but it's played for laughs.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: A couple:
    • The transvestite Gyeon-Woo drinks with when he and The Girl break up appears earlier in the film, sitting next to her on the subway scene where she brings the forgotten package to the grandmother.
    • The soldier Gyeon-woo and The Girl encounter at the amusement park is mentioned during the scene Gyeon-woo ditches The Girl to eat with his friends.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": The titular girl's scripts.
  • Inspired by…: The series of letters posted on the internet.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Gyeon-woo does this, and it even gets picked up to be made into a movie. It's like, circular, man!
  • Love at First Sight: Gyeon-woo is immediately attracted to the girl, almost despite himself.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Pretty violent and dangerous example.
  • No Antagonist
  • No Name Given: The Girl.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Not marriage, per se. At the beginning of the film the protagonist's mother tries to get him to meet with his aunt because he resembles this aunt's recently deceased son. At the end of the film, he finally meets with his aunt and it turns out she's been trying to set him up for a date with his cousin's girl left behind...the eponymous Sassy Girl.
  • Reality Subtext: In-Universe - all of the stories the girl tells revolve around time travel and/or lost love.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Turns out Gyeon-woo himself is this for the girl of his dreams.
  • Stalker with a Crush: The girl herself towards Gyeon-woo at the beginning.
  • Survivor's Guilt: This is an idea both here and in Windstruck. In this case it is about The Lost Lenore
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Time Capsule: Gyeon-woo and the girl plant a time capsule under a tree and agree to meet again there some time later. It contains the story of the girl and her previous boyfriend.
  • Training Montage: During the time Gyeon-woo and the girl are separated, he uses the time to improve himself in activities he had earlier been humiliated at, such as swimming, kendo and racquetball.
  • Tsundere: The girl herself, with the emphasis on the "Tsun" part.
  • Two-Person Love Triangle: Gyeon-woo is trying to avoid his aunt setting him up with some girl. The Girl is trying to avoid the mother of her dead fiance setting her up with her nephew. Turns out that the aunt and the dead fiance's mother is the same person.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: It's implied that Gyeon-woo bears a strong resemblance to his deceased cousin, The Girl's former boyfriend. This helps explain why she calls him "Honey" in her drunken, grief-stricken state at the train station in the beginning. The scenes with said unseen late boyfriend were actually played by Cha Tae-hyun.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: The girl.
  • Uptight Loves Wild