Starring Choi Min-Sik
Kim Yuh-Jin, Son Yeah-Jin
Director of Photography Jung II Sung
Directed by Im Kwon Taek
Here it is, mounted.
It emanates divine strength, as if ghosts were dancing around it.
He seems to paint by the rules, yet he doesn't.
He follows and breaks them at the same time.
One stroke is worth ten thousand. Ten thousand strokes in one!
What do rules have to do with my painting?
How can a bumpkin dauber claim to question the rules of art?
You'll waste your life believing in your paltry talent.
In 1 882, the Chosun dynasty is ending.
The Koreans are rebelling against foreign invasions and corrupt government.
The country is in decline. These were the days of the artist Jang Seung-ub.
We've been expecting you.
Mr. Kaiura is Japanese. He writes for the Hansung Daily.
I brought him here because he longs to own one of your paintings.
I admire you. Your paintings are sublime.
He hears you like good drink. He brought this from Japan.
It's good. Our diplomats there enjoy it.
Thank you for the wine.
But do you really want to take back a painting
by a vulgar Korean to the glorious empire of Japan?
Don't be so arrogant!
Many artists would die for such recognition.
Mr. Kaiura genuinely admires your work.
He knows you're a commoner. He wonders how you paint so well.
My poor friend! Genius shows, even in a baby!
Give me that! Give me that drawing.
You snotnose brat! Get up!
- You there! What are you doing? - Do you want to die? Filthy brat!
- Do you want to die? Filthy brat! - I said stop!
He's the beggars' leader. She's a girl who takes care of me...
Iike a younger brother. He never stops hitting her, the beast!
He got her pregnant. He treats her like dirt.
I did the drawing to comfort her. He grabbed me.
Father! Seung-ub is running away with my clothes!
Let him go. The rules of a noble household are too strict for him
and he must have realized we can't afford to feed him.
Where are your rolls of paper?
All sold out. A delivery's due in two days.
We're out of stock.
If you want writing paper, we have some Chinese.
I'll come back.
Is it me you're calling?
Aren't you master Kim from Hyoja village? Don't you recognize me?
Once, by Chungye River, you saved the life of a beggar boy.
Seung-ub? Is it you?
What brings you to this suburban paper shop?
- I moved out here last summer. - Seung-ub! Where are you?
Are those your paintings on the wall?
Yes. I found work with a rotten boss but I'm glad to have food.
Master, please accept my respects.
This boy is gifted. His brushwork has such fire.
He may grow up to become the great artist you longed to be.
Take him as your pupil.
Hold the brush as if you had an egg in your palm.
Hold it tight with all five fingers.
From fingers to brush, from brush to paper, your life force will flow.
First, lay out the "bone structure".
Every stroke, structure.
Next, the shading.
Shading brings distance and gives objects their depth.
Three years later.
Is that you, Seung-ub?
After barely a year he had a stroke. He was paralyzed.
I kept house and farmed for him.
I've come straight from his funeral.
He left me his flute.
We'll never be stirred by his playing again. How sad...
The flute was all he left you?
He said every painter has to know literature. Although he was ill,
he taught me the classics. Now my eyes can see.
It's been so long.
I'd heard you were back from China. Sorry I took so long to come.
Thanks to you, it all went well.
I bought this in China.
"The Book of the Measure of Qi".
The author is our own Hye-gang. He's unknown here in his homeland.
We spurn the thoughts of such a sage...
while he's admired abroad in China. Such a pity.
What does he say in this book?
He explains the mysteries of the flow of Qi,
how it irrigates our five senses and determines the nation's strength.
That would be heresy here. They'd censor it.
That will be our country's downfall.
Our ruling class must wake up to the future. They're asleep. It's disastrous.
I'll share this precious gift with my reform-minded friends.
His name is Jang Seung-ub. I think he has a god-given talent.
Please take him as your servant.
Show him original artworks that will open his eyes.
What is it?
The Master's youngest sister.
Her frail health worries the family. Don't go near her.
She's a good, sweet-natured woman
but she's always been ill with an unknown disease.
This precious art album comes from the Chinese royal family.
This was painted by Zhao Gan during the Sung dynasty.
He worked at Nanjing with Tung Yuan.
This is by Ma He-zhi, of the Hangzhou school.
On your knees, idler!
Everybody works hard here. You too!
Fancy yourself as a painter, you upstart?
- All you want is a full belly. - Stop it! Let me go!
It's so real, it could tear through the paper and fly off.
Your hand, too.
Such a precious hand...
Hail to the groom!
Hail to the bride!
Come here, my boy!
I've never shown anyone this painting by Chen Jia-yan.
How did you contrive to copy it?
I looked at it once...in secret.
I'm harbouring a thief in my home.
Compare the two. Can you tell which is the original?
He painted it after looking at it once.
Only the seal is missing. Otherwise, they're identical.
But, even more amazing than
the copying look at that vivacity!
His gifts of observation and memory are staggering.
There are two birds in the original but three in the copy.
It looks so lonely and dismal. Here's a long-lost friend!
Not so long, damn it!
Don't you recognize me?
I heard you were working for a herbalist
and now you're in Master Lee's employ.
I've been drifting around for a while.
- Bring me some wine. - Coming up! Bring him wine!
- Who are you? - She's my daughter. Go to bed.
They say you made a perfect copy of a Chinese painting...
you'd seen only once. So you're Jang Seung-ub?
I'm meeting a genius. Delighted.
My name is Oh Cheon-suk. I'm an art dealer.
I'm buying. Bring him food.
These are copies of erotica.
That's what sells best these days.
Even famous artists like Danwon and Hyewon have done some.
After all, pornography is a part of life.
I'll wait until I'm famous, then.
Nonsense! Chinese imitations are unfashionable.
If you paint what doesn't sell, who'll pay for your rice and wine?
So why look at them?
- Choon-sim, come in. - Go away.
His talent is in your hands. Be good to him!
Why are you trembling?
It seems like your first time. Let me show you.
Mister, this isn't me. It doesn't look like me.
I hear that copies of my collection are circulating. You must be the culprit.
You should be studying till your fingers bleed. Will you waste your life forever?
This is the Footbridge Art School.
Painters and scholars study here, so behave yourself.
Master Hyesan, please accept him as your pupil.
He hasn't studied long but his genius should not be wasted.
So you're the one who copied all those Chinese paintings.
Let's go in.
Welcome. Please go upstairs.
A bankrupt merchant opened this tavern. It does good business.
This is Mongam.
And this young man is Doncho.
My name is Songhyun. I mostly paint "Bird and Flower".
You know Su Tung-po, the great painter and poet?
He argues that depicting nature as it is doesn't make it art.
Painting must reflect the painter's mind.
It's rough for daubers like us!
Paint the thoughts behind the shape...
Go beyond the form and paint the meaning.
It's our Master's motto:. "Think before you paint."
As his pupil, you'll have to work hard.
Depth and shadow must always be equal.
Is that a mouse or a rabbit?
Object and painting must be as one. Why these slapdash strokes?
Don't push the brush. Pull it!
Painting is about more than appearance. It's about capturing the essence.
See the difference?
You painted a scholar gazing blissfully at flowers.
Here, what feeling do you get from this man's face and the scenery?
His employer asked him for a bribe. He refused and lost the job which...
he'd only just found. Tao Yuan-ming's sorrow has to show through.
Can't you see him yearning to express his pain in a poem?
Imagination must breathe fire into the painting.
More important than the strokes is what lies between them.
The mind's discipline alone must guide the brush.
Master, I've finished "Homecoming".
How dare you claim it's finished?
A painting is never finished.
I want you to paint this fan.
It's a gift for a Chinese dignitary.
I asked Master Hyesan to paint it, but he referred me to you.
He did? He really recommended me?
Let us be merry while we are young.
When we are old it will be too late.
Seung-ub, this party's for you. Join in!
Thanks to your painting, my trip went well. Take this.
A gift from the Chinese dignitary to the painter of the fan.
It's a special stone for a seal.
Here's a new girl. She plays the 'saenghwang' well.
My name's Mae-hyang.
Our Seung-ub plays the flute very well.
They'll make a perfect duet.
"The plum blossom blooms only for thee."
They say it keeps its scent to itself. I'm ashamed of what I am.
In 1 866, Regent Daewon orders the persecution of the Catholics.
Nine French missionaries and 8,000 Koreans are beheaded.
Are you looking for someone, too?
Yes. I know a kisaeng, Mae-hyang, who's a Catholic.
You used to say we're all equal before God.
You wanted to abolish inequality in Korea
but you're leaving, abandoning your dreams.
You've beautifully captured the languid eyes
of this idle dog as he watches the bee.
Master Lee wants you urgently.
So-woon has returned.
She has no hope of recovery.
She came back to avoid being a burden on her husband.
I sent for you because she longs to have a painting by you.
Think of it as her last wish. Do it for me.
Seung-ub is here.
What shall I paint for you?
Whatever inspires you.
Here it is.
This is a farewell.
This is a farewell.
Farewell to my love.
If you must leave tell me when you'll return.
Three famous painters have jae in their names.
You could be the third won with Danwon and Hyewon.
Choose a forename.
Oh, meaning "l".
"l too am a Won." Forceful Chinese art is all very well...
but you must see the works that contain the spirit of our ancestors.
The master of this house never shows his collection
but I'm a relative. He won't say no.
He's fond of pine mushrooms.
What can I get you?
He's in the main wing.
- Wait for me here. - Yes, master.
You, get out!
Watch where you put your dirty backside!
- Beat it! - What's happening?
This uncouth dauber just sat himself down!
The famous "Winter Pine Tree" by Chusa.
No trace of affectation. The tree's pure thrust in a winter sky.
A masterpiece which reflects the painter's nobility.
"Come the chill of winter, the pine's green turns to emerald."
"The more chaotic the world, the happier is the man of virtue."
The teachings of Confucius.
How can an unschooled painter create masterpieces through technique alone?
Painting is the expression of knowledge.
A new day dawns but the world still wanders in darkness.
Chusa has reached a higher level
but, steeped in Chinese culture, he's lost touch with our soil.
He studied with a Chinese master.
He adopted the style of the Han dynasty.
Create your own style with painting alone, without words.
Are you still angry?
Let's go for a drink.
Go to the bedroom.
Bring me some drink.
Go to bed.
Bring me some drink.
You, come here.
Get me some drink.
You're already drunk.
Son of a dog! Guttersnipe!
I saved your life and you disobey me? Get me some alcohol, dog!
Move! Son of a dog!
The fragrance of letters? The harmony of poetry, prose and painting?
If that's what they want.
Screw them! If it doesn't have words, it's not painting?
Real painting speaks by itself. No need for words.
Only daubers add poems to their work,
trying to fool people with their bogus philosophy. Frauds!
No more drink.
Get up! Get some more drink!
Light the candle. Mix me some ink.
You! Get up!
Let's go out for some beef soup.
The layabout's still asleep? Wake up!
I said wake up!
Was somebody here last night?
How should I know? I was asleep.
Was somebody here?
Was it Pyeong-san?
The dauber you used to live with!
What about Pyeong-san? What's wrong with Pyeong-san?
I must have painted with my fingers.
You're a bastard. I lived with Pyeong-san and with Gi-san, too.
What's wrong if a kisaeng sleeps with other men?
I don't live with you just for sex.
I like you for your innocence.
But I'm crazy!
Crazy to rent this house and live with you.
You stinker! What have you ever done for me?
All you do is drink all the money you earn!
You paint a fish on the wall but you wouldn't buy a wardrobe.
Do you care how we get food?
Don't expect me to cry when you leave! This isn't the first time.
All right, leave! I'm not afraid.
Why are you following me? Go home!
Does learning to paint have to be so painful?
Go to hell! I'm sick of this.
Elsewhere, one painting buys lunch, another one dinner.
The aristocrats here don't even look.
They must have good taste!
At a glance, they can see it's rubbish.
They say it's muddy.
This kind of painting is for plebs.
This one would sell.
Don't! It's good!
Dirty brat! Go to hell!
Let's run! The farmer's after me!
Who told you to steal?
Did you learn it from your beggar friends?
Bad habits like that are hard to lose.
- Here. - You eat it.
I'll eat the head and neck.
Eat it, mongrel.
When did we last eat meat?
We must part here.
It's too hard. I can't keep up with you.
You're an orphan.
Where will you go?
I have a distant uncle in my village. I'll work on his farm.
That chest costs as much as a house.
A famous craftsman took six months to make it.
I said come out, you bitch!
Drink, you slut!
Who was it?
He told me to stop waiting for you and move in with him.
I'm a young woman. Should I live like a widow
while every passing girl, you...
Why Pyeong-san, bitch?
I'm through with you.
Let go of me, bitch!
I know it's my fault. I'm not pleading with you to stay
but you can't just walk out!
It's over! What more do you want?
Do a painting for me, at least.
All right, I will.
What will you paint?
A Bird and Flower picture will be ample for you.
Bird and Flower?
If we split up, I want something that's worth money.
What kind of picture is worth money?
Such a beautiful painting for a floozy...
For a kisaeng, she was faithful to him.
She must have suffered, living with that madman.
If she was so faithful, why did she sell it so fast?
His greatest work yet.
What's this screen that everyone's talking about?
I'd like to see it, at least.
The screen isn't all. There's the painting by him in Minister Min's house
and the one that Hwang the millionaire bought.
If it's by him, it can't be bad.
He copied Guo Xi's trees,
Huang Gong-wang's rocks and Lin Liang's flowers and birds.
There's no harm in borrowing from the great masters.
Capturing the essence of classics takes talent, too.
Does alcohol make you envious?
Master Hyesan sent for you.
Master Hyesan, here, painted the late king twice
and his majesty's portrait last year.
Ohwon, alias Jang Seung-ub.
I've heard of you. I've seen your work.
To celebrate the Governor's birthday,
our chosen theme shall be "Pine and Crane" to wish him long life.
"Pine and Crane" it is.
No, a "Gakwan Jinjak".
I want Ohwon to begin it.
The Governor requests a "Gakwan Jinjak".
- Ohwon. - Yes, sir
You go first.
How dare I go before Master Hyesan?
It's the Governor's order.
Father, what's a "Gakwan Jinjak"?
It means "Next to the Crown",
a wish for the highest rank, just below the king.
Master Hyesan's turn is next.
A painting is made of arteries.
You took the heart. How will the Master react?
The peony signifies wealth and fame.
The peach, celestial fruit, symbolizes long life.
The crab shell signifies selection for State office.
The crab knows the art of retreat. A man must know when to withdraw.
Is the Master in?
Isn't he well?
- Are you all right? - Don't come up!
How dare you soil this threshold?
Master Hyesan has resigned from the school.
Even on the Governor's order, you should have refused three times.
You dared to paint before the Master!
People who don't respect rank are worse than animals.
You betrayed your fellows' trust.
You disgraced your Master. Don't ever come back here.
He refuses to see you. Go away.
Get up. You don't need my forgiveness.
This merely proves that your talent is more admired than mine.
The blue extracted from indigo is more beautiful than the indigo itself.
But without the indigo, there would be no blue. Likewise, you...
You must set the example for future sons of our land. Be like the indigo.
Mae-hyang, Master Ohwon sent for you.
After you disappeared, I searched for you everywhere in vain.
I made this long journey to see you again.
It was dangerous to stay in Seoul. I roamed around before coming here.
Will you soon go back to Seoul?
I have many orders for paintings. I'll stay at least a month.
Do you have a lover?
This place is notorious for its idle nobles and corrupt officials.
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