Our first love, our first hero. No matter what description we’d like to attach to his name, we all call him just the same—dad.

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For this belated Father’s Day special of K-Movie Corner, your resident movie reviewer presents you Miracle in Cell No. 7, a touching film about a daughter and her mentally-handicapped yet loving father who is wrongfully accused, tried, and sentenced to death.

The comedy-family drama movie is a commercial success, which is actually a sweet surprise given the fact that it’s only a low-budget film and it had no big stars in it except Ryu Seung-ryong. It raked in around 12.8 million theater admissions, placing it on sixth spot in an all-time list of domestic films with the most ticket sales in Korea.

Aside from being a box-office hit, it’s also critically acclaimed, bagging numerous awards and nominations in various award-giving organizations such the Baeksang Arts Awards and the Grand Bell Awards.

The film capitalized on two things to succeed—the first is on its well-balanced story and the second is on the cast members’ commendable acting performances. The story perfectly combined prison comedy and legal drama though I must say there are some points that didn’t feel so realistic. Nevertheless, the movie’s overall warm feel will make you want to overlook whatever flaw it has.

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Ryu Seung-ryong and Kal So-won in character as father-and-daughter Lee Yong-go and Ye-seung in Miracle in Cell No. 7.

Each actor in this film showcased fantastic acting skills, most specifically Kal So-won who gave an acting performance that is so far beyond her years. I’m so much impressed by how she matched the acting capabilities of her full-grown co-stars. Hands down!

I decided to do some research to give you fun facts about the stars of this movie in an attempt to balance out its lingering sadness. I hope it helps!

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Whoever isn’t moved by Ryu Seung-ryong’s believable acting in this movie as Lee Yong-go, a mentally-impaired yet loving father, probably has a heart as hard as stone. His acting is a gem that truly deserves the Grand Prize for Film and the Best Actor trophy bestowed on him in the 49th Baeksang Arts Awards and the 50th Grand Bell Awards, respectively.

With over three decades in the industry, Ryu Seung-ryong has already proved that there isn’t a role he can’t play well. Some of the characters he portrayed include a ladies’ man in the movie All About My Wife (2012), a gay man in the series Personal Taste (2010), and a reformed ex-mercenary killer in the film The Target (2014; lower left photo still).

The veteran actor, who obtained a degree in Theater from the Seoul Institute of the Arts, also doubles as an adjunct professor at the Seoul Art College’s School of Acting Arts. Daebak!

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Kal So-won was only six when she starred in this movie yet she already wowed us with her great acting capability. A gift that is recognized not only by viewers but also by different award-giving bodies. She earned a Best New Actress nomination and a Special Jury Prize in the 49th Baeksang Arts Awards and the 50th Grand Bell Awards, respectively for her portrayal of Ye-seung, the young daughter of Ryu Seung-ryong’s mentally-challenged character.

Those were impressive achievements already given her very tender age, right? But her acting portfolio doesn’t end there as she continues to add huge projects under her belt. The most recent were her portrayal of the young versions of Park Shin-hye and Jun Ji-hyun’s characters in Doctor Crush (2016; lower right photo still) and Legend of the Blue Sea (2017; upper right photo still), accordingly.

Woah, with her pretty face and awesome acting talent, we can already tell that she’s gonna be one of Korea’s brightest stars in the future. Do you agree?

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If Kal So-won’s acting performance in this film left us speechless, the portrayal of her character’s grown-up version by none other than Park Shin-hye didn’t disappoint viewers and critics as well. Her fine acting earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination and a popularity award at the 49th Baeksang Arts Awards. Today, Park Shin-hye is considered as one of the most loved, most praised, and most bankable stars not only in Korea but also across Asia following her successful dramas such as The Heirs (2013), Pinocchio (2014-2015), and Doctor Crush (2016), among others.

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Well, lead stars won’t shine bright without their equally talented supporting co-stars. Actors Oh Dal-su and Jung Jin-young are just two of the many supporting actors who contributed a lot for this movie to be a box-office hit.

Oh Dal-su played the role of Yo Sang-ho (bottom photo stills), Cell No. 7 leader who first treated Lee Yong-go not so kindly but later on sympathized with him after discovering that he was just wrongfully accused. The actor started acting in various theater productions, and has also starred in numerous blockbuster films such as The Thieves (2012), Oldboy (2003), and The Host (2006) as the voice of the monster.

Jung Jin-young, on the other hand, gave life to the character of Jang Min-hwan (top photo still), the head prison warden who was saved by Lee Yong-go during an arson attack and went on to legally adopt Ye-seung after her father received his death sentence. This veteran star had been in a lot of successful movies, but he’s most notably recognized in the widely acclaimed film King and the Clown (2005) where he played the role of King Yeonsan.

P.S. These two actors reunited in another drama movie titled Ode to My Father (2014), which is currently the second highest-grossing film of all time in Korea.

Final verdict: Miracle in Cell No. 7 is a painful movie, but it’s definitely the kind of pain you’d delightfully want to experience. 4/5

~All credit for the photo stills used in this review goes to Fineworks/CL Entertainment/Next Entertainment World

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