Year: 2002
USA: Kino International
UK: Pathe Distribution
Cast: Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ho-jung, Ahn Sung-ki, Kim Yeo-jin, Son Yae-jin, Han Myung-goo, Jung Tae-woo, Choi Jong-sung, Gi Jung-soo, Park Jee-il, Park Bum-gyoo, Hwang Choon-ha
Director: Im Kwon-taek
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean (English subtitles)
UK: 117 mins
UK Certificate: 15
USA Release Date: 14 February 2003 (Limited Release - New York)
UK Release Date: 6 June 2003


During the 1850s, Kim Byung-moon saves young Seung-up from being beaten by a group of drifters. Seung-up draws Kim a picture to explain the reason behind the attempted beating. Kim looks carefully at Seung-up's rough yet extraordinary talent, and takes him under his wing. Years later, Kim encourages Seung-up to pursue the life of a true artist and gives him a pen name, Oh-won. Seung-up meets Mae-hyang, a daughter of a declined Yangban (nobility) who attracts him deeply. However, they are forced to part when Mae-hyang runs away to escape persecution.

Seung-up rueing his lost love, also leaves the city and wanders the Country in pursuit of the truth of art. Nobody can hold on to him. Only through pleasure can he find the inspiration to paint, and so his life becomes embroiled with alcohol and women. While mocking the world, and with a liquor bottle in hand, he confirms the power of his brush stroke through his paintings of the Korean landscape. As fame builds up, he yearns to change and stretch beyond his limits. Then one day, he experiences all his body's energy flowing into the paintbrush. Seung-up, having discovered the state he has strived to attain, turns his back on the world and fades away...

Im Kwon-taek's ninety-fifth film tells the story of renowned nineteenth-century painter Jang Seung-up (Choi Min-Sik), an artist whose revolutionary work - and persona - has forever changed the face of Korean art.