Miracle in Cell No. 7 is a 2013 South Korean comedy-drama film starring Ryu Seung-ryong, Kal So-won and Park Shin-hye.The film is about a mentally challenged man wrongfully imprisoned for murder, who builds friendships with the hardened criminals in his cell, who in return help him see his daughter again by smuggling her into the prison.
The movie is based on the real-life story of a man who was tortured and pleaded guilty under duress to the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl on September 27, 1972 in Chuncheon before being finally exonerated in November 2008. Its early working title was December 23.
This movie starts off with the death of the lead sings of the band, Army of Ye-sung is a lawyer defending her late father for a crime he did not commit. While leaving the prison court due to the successful trial, Ye-sung notices a balloon being caught on barbed wire and thinks back about the past (flashback).
Back in 1997, 6 year old Ye-sung and her father, Yong-gu (who is mentally disabled with the brain of a 6 year old), have been wanting to buy a Sailor Moon backpack. However, the police commissioner and his daughter purchases it before Yong-gu could and beats him when trying to get it back. The daughter later tries to show Yong-gu another store selling the same backpack, but dies in an accident after slipping on a wet pavement and a brick dropping on her head. Yong-gu is arrested for rape and murder after he (in a vain attempt) performs CPR to the child, seemingly seen as sexual assault. Yong-gu is sent to prison, where he shares a jail cell with five other inmates (prisoners), all who dislike him for his falsely accused crime and mental disability. One day, Yong-gu saves the life of his cellmate and prison gang leader, So Yang-ho, from being stabbed by a rival prison gang leader. So Yang-ho then offers to help Yong-gu in any way he can to return the favor. Yong-gu tells So Yang-ho that he wants to see his daughter Ye-sung. The five inmates, learning about Yong-gu's innocence, then plan together to make the miracle happen. The inmates were successful in smuggling Ye-sung into the prison and reuniting her with Yong-gu. However, a few minutes later, she is discovered and the police take her back to childcare. In fact, the warden knows that Yong-gu was not the assailant of the girl (after Yong-gu saved him and another inmate from an attempted arson), but he could not do anything in front of the commissioner's power to help him. He is however able to allow Ye-sung to visit Yong-gu everyday after school.
The film took 4.6 million admissions (the equivalent of more than US$30 million) in its first two weeks due to strong word of mouth. Despite the release of The Berlin File, it drew in 15% more audience members on its third week, with seat booking at 75.8%. 32 days after its release, it became only the eighth film in Korean cinema history to break the 10 million mark in ticket sales. This was especially notable since Miracle in Cell No. 7 had no big stars, and a modest budget with a break-even point of 1.7 million admissions, making its eventual profit the highest among the films that reached 10 million.
The film exceeded 12 million viewers 46 days after its release. On March 15, 2013, 52 days after its release, ticket sales reached 12.32 million, making it the fifth highest grossing Korean film of all time.
Analysts say among the reasons for its success was the long lunar new year holiday and families going to see the film in groups. The film proved to be especially popular among middle-aged and elderly Koreans.