[KING AND THE CLOWN SPECIAL] 왕의 남자 (The King and The Clown) [Part 3]

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[KING AND THE CLOWN SPECIAL] 왕의 남자 (The King and The Clown) [Part 3]

絃과 打 (Chords and Dozens) [6:22]

Clips of Lee Byung-Woo during recording, discussing with the performers.

Music Director Lee Byung-Woo: "Although attached to today's sentiments it might not perfectly fit, when dealing with images from that period [Joseon] then the music couldn't help but feeling epic, romantic and tragic at the same time. I used a lot of guitar at the beginning to outline the overall feel of what I wanted to try for the director, but he would often complain it was too romantic! [...

We see Lee again discussing with musicians, asking for something a little less sad. Then we see strings playing a little the main theme.

...] I used a lot of strings too, as you can cover the whole spectrum and adapt to many different scenes. I can see people feeling strings don't fit with a Sageuk, but thanks to Yeonsan's personality I was able to use them freely with the orchestra. I just think using strings inside the palace gives those scenes a slightly more... sophisticated nuance? [...

One of the final scenes with Jang-Saeng on the rope is shown.

...] Daegeum (traditional Korean flute) can create beautiful sound, but it also has a rugged side to it, able to convey the passage of time, or mark a big step in another direction, so I thought it fit well with those scenes. It's ironic how the music portrayed in the film as part of the performances and the element of realism coming from it [Samulnori, pansori et al] has a very East Asian feeling, whereas the rest of the music used in the film is closer to things like Jazz structurally. When I first read the script the scale seemed really big, but then the scenes that needed that kind of music weren't as many as I thought. If there's anything I feel bad about, I would have liked to write something a little more delicate, subtle."
COMMENT: I probably wrote about it before, but I think I fell for Lee Byung-Woo's style watching the first 5 Minutes of 마리 이야기 (My Beautiful Girl, Mari). I don't know why, but when I hear stunningly beautiful music like that I get chills down my speine. I was on the verge of shedding tears for what... a bird flying over a city drawn with 3D Studio Max? That's good music. Liked this bit about the soundtrack, very simple [no big jargon or details difficult to understand] but delivers the ball effectively.


나가는 길 (The Way Out) [5:07]

Scenes from the shoot, with Lee Joon-Ik and Yoo Hae-Jin joking, Yeonsan's reaction after the Beijing Opera play, and more. A sort of NG gallery, if you will. Gam Woo-Sung's trainer is shown performing those jumps on the rope, and we also see his arm after hanging from the rope (ouch). There's a great little scene of Gam Woo-Sung giving a massage to Jung Jin-Young, and then he tells the staff on character: "throw out Gong-Gil and bring me Jang-Saeng!".
COMMENT: Kind of throwaway, but pretty fun.


둘째 마당 (The Second Yard)

안성 남사당 바우덕이 (Anseong Namsadang Baudeogi) [13:49]
-- Note: The title above is not simply a romanization of the Korean, but the name of a performing troupe, which trained the actors for the film. They even have an English Website.

Images (in B&W) of Director and Actors introducing themselves at the training center, then we see moments of the real Baudeogi festival [it's similar to what you see at the beginning of the film]. Older Korean viewers watching this might laugh at the performers wearing microphones, as 'in the old days' performers had to do everything with their voice.

We then see the actors try it out, fool around a little, and then move to the actual training. Gam Woo-Sung starts with the rope at an height of about 30-40 cm. This is called 줄타기 (Jultagi, funambulism).We see Jultagi expert Kwon Won-Tae walk the rope in a performance, much similar to the one you see in the film -- it's a little more elaborate here, with Kwon standing and jumping on one leg and doing similar things. Interesting how Gam and Lee Joon-Gi learn to keep their balance walking on a rope put on the floor (which might be even more difficult than a suspended one).

The rope starts to get a little higher for the actors, and as Kwon explains that gives you a whole new feeling in terms of balancing yourself. Kwon says his job hasn't changed a bit over the years, they still live a difficult life doing a very difficult job. The actors move outside with a much higher rope (with mats underneath) and learn to adapt to the new situation.
COMMENT: Really fascinating. I've never been a fan of Circus performers, but traditional street performances seen in Korean and Chinese culture always interested me. If you're a Sageuk fan you've probably seen bits and pieces of those performances a thousand times, but it's nice to see the process behind all that work, and hear it from an expert (hell, a master, even) like Kwon Won-Tae. Very enjoyable, and the Jultagi shown here is even better than what you see in the film.


노름마치 (Noreum Machi) [17:47]
-- Note: Just like the previous featurette, we're not dealing with romanization but the name of a Samulnori (사물놀이, traditional percussion-based Korean music) troupe, which trained the Clowns.

Folk Instrument Coach Kim Ju-Hoong: "Every period has its trends, like violin, ballet, piano and so on. But people living in that period don't realize how important their own traditional music is. If you look at our situation, what's left for us now that's distinctively Korean? Our traditions and culture, nothing else." [...

We see Noreum Machi play a little, then Kim keeps talking.

[... The first time I met Director Lee, it was during a concert. This funny looking guy with glasses would keep staring at me while I was playing, so I couldn't help but feel a little curiosity. Of course at first I was really nervous and excited because of the film, and people around me were as well. The basic difference between training people to perform in theater and films is their structure: since theater is a single performance and they have to go all out without making mistakes, 3 months of training would have never been enough to train them. But because in films there's this thing called cuts, you can take whatever is good and drop anything that doesn't satisfy you.

So what was our priority? Not necessarily going through all the fundamentals like we would for a theater play, but get them to a level which would look good on the screen, create a feeling with would fit well with the film's climax, and of course trying to have them learn basic chemistry between each other. My approach was more subjective than objective, as I'm a 극악인 (traditional music performer) first and foremost, but how can I decide what's going to be popular or not? I just went in my usual direction. But then Lee Byung-Woo who is extremely talented and even liked traditional music to boot was able to translate our style into something which would fit with the film, so in that sense I think we did well. More than saying 'Hey, there's nothing better than what we're doing' our focus was in trying to highlight the important aspects of that time's folk music, and how we could help that process through our style."

We now move to Noreum Machi's practice room, and Kim introduces their music:

"The best way to approach listening to traditional Korean music is imagining you're going mountain hiking. You start your journey really lightly, comfortable, almost relaxed. Then the tempo increases."

There are four instruments in Samulnori: a 장구 (Jangu, the big 'hourglass drum'), 꽹과리 (Ggwaenggwari, the little gong), 징 (Jing, the bigger gong) and finally the 북 (Buk, the frame drum). We start with the four instruments slowly, and the sound gets increasingly more elaborate and louder. Kim continues his explanation about the peculiarities of Gukak.

"Within a 4/4 beat you can always improvise. If the beat goes 1/2/3/4, then you're free to only play 3 in between and not necessarily follow the beat, as long as at the end you conclude this 4/4 beat and start another. Continuity forms the beat, not necessarily what you play in between. The thing making it difficult for us is that the masses still don't understand the difference between a professional and an amateur. The difference is in the small details, and how professionals understand those and are able to follow those details and complement them. That's what separates pro's from amateurs. Just like the director picked the best scenes for the final film, we did the same with the Samulnori performances within the film, picking the best parts of our repertory, all those bits which would shine on the big screen when performed well."

Back to the studio. The four play part of the performance in the film. If you ever played drums even at amateur level you know this stuff is not easy. Not at all.

"While shooting the film I was really worried... I mean, how can they edit all this together and make it flow? I was even scared they wouldn't be able to do what was required, but then again I guess that's what films do, and they were able to put it all together at the end. If I felt bad about anything regarding the film? Well, the actors had to learn only one technique because of the film and that's all they used, but I hoped I'd see them later so we could teach them even better techniques. That makes me a little sad, but it's inevitable. The film is over, and they have to move on."

Clips of the actors performing inside the studio.

"Of course we were only part of the film as trainers for the actors, but I think the popularity of the film also influenced us and traditional music in Korean popular culture. Since this film was seen by so many people, that gave us an opportunity to promote even further traditional culture, and gave us Noreum Machi an even stronger impetus to work harder in the future."

Another (long and impressive) performance from Noreum Machi follows, closing the clip in great fashion.
COMMENT: I'm finding out that the older I get, the more inclined I am to listen to 국악 (Gukak, Traditional Korean music). Not that I buy Gukak CDs, but I love the sound, the rhythm and the whole atmosphere created by this style of music. There's nothing like Gukak, in particular Samulnori (percussion based Gukak) to create a festival-like feeling, which made those scenes in the film even more effective. This is a lovely introduction to Samulnori, how to approach it, its basic techniques and how it was used in the film. Excellent.


극 中 극 (Drama inside the Drama) [8:21]

Burlesque Advisor Jin Ok-Seop: "Through this film we gained a newfound interest in 궁중광대 (Royal Jesters) and 사당패 (traveling troupes). We tried to show the life of those traveling performing troupes and how they did just about everything to put food on their table, even if that involved selling their bodies like Gong-Gil. And of course Royal Jesters were entertainers performing pansori for the King." [...

We see behind the scenes clips from the first performance satirizing the King and Nok-Soo.

...] They had to learn to dance in just an hour. Of course it's not really dancing, but even if they're very subtle body movements, they add tremendously to the performance, and are quite an important part. So more than dance, we call those movements by Jesters 발림 (dance-like gestures while performing pansori). Learning that and the subtle vocal expressions done while performing (called 너름새, literally 'branching out') was definitely not easy. But even though at the beginning they had it hard, the combination of hard work and the fun in learning new things brought them to enjoy the experience, and it was the same for us teaching them. [...

The main actors practice all the gestures and vocal expressions.

...] This film was a nice way to make people interested in Jester culture, and when I found out it was Lee Joon-Ik who would direct, responsible for all that interesting dialogue in 황산벌 (Once Upon a Time in the Battlefield) I was even happier. Scenes like Yeonsan's 'baby' or Lee Joon-Gi shaking his rear end playing Nok-Soo remind really well of the kind of satire those Clowns were doing in the past, even if those were just subtle little moments. So in bringing to the surface all those elements regarding Gukak and performances, it was a nice chance to get closer to mainstream in that sense, and I'm glad all those were important parts of this film.

But in contrast with folk jesters, we didn't know much about Royal jesters in terms of culture. We only knew bits and pieces, like the use of funambulism. But in the Colonial period, an historian called Kim Dae-Cheol explored at length our tradition in Palace performing arts, he was the first to suggest Jesters wore masks while performing. In the early 1900s a book about this issue came out, listing many aspects of those performances which emerged over the years. This exposure with the mainstream showed how tradition keeps changing over the years, assuming new forms when it meets different reaction from new generations, so in that sense this film was important in reviving interest in this aspect of our traditional culture."
COMMENT: Perhaps something a little more visual would have helped, but a nice introduction into the world of folk and royal jesters, filled with jargon and interesting cultural connections with the other traditional elements of the film.


爾, 왕의 남자, 그 넘어 (Yi, The King and The Clown, And Beyond) [23:42]

We start with clips of the original theater play 爾 (Yi). I'm not sure as it's been a long time, but this is probably the version EBS showed years ago, as it has Oh Man-Seok of 신돈 (Shin Don) and 포도밭 그사나이 (The Vineyard Man) playing Gong-Gil. Then a long interview with writer Kim Tae-Woong begins.

Playwright Kim Tae-Woong: "I was always interested in traditional performing arts like pansori, but I gained an interest in Royal Jesters, especially when I started studying history in graduate school. Back then I didn't think there would be much data about Royal Jesters, but then I found in Yeonsan's Chronicles about this Jester called Gong-Gil and his relationship with the King, and that was the starting point for my play 爾 (Yi). What I wanted to focus on making this project was the essence of 소리 (sound, the Clowns' performance) and how it changed people experiencing it, but also the balance between power (in the Palace) and the Clowns' sense of identity. So the core was Gong-Gil's search for his true identity. [...

Clips from the play, with Lee Seung-Hoon playing Jang-Saeng, and Oh Man-Seok playing Gong-Gil. Very intense.

...] Two things I was concerned about when moving the play from the stage to the big screen were the code of homosexuality and how it would be shown in the film, but also that unique theater-like feeling the performances and even the characters had. I was wondering if they'd be able to make an effective transition without losing the impact of the original."

Jung Seok-Yong: "I've done this play many times so I knew it really well. One thing I was really worried about was how they'd interpret those theater-specific elements. In the script you'd just read 'performance', but then how would they actually do it? That really concerned me."

Scenes from Yi, dealing with the folk Jesters' performances.

Kim Tae-Woong: "What I liked about the film was how it presented the world within the Clowns' performances but also what happened outside. As the story progressed, its sense of density slowly disappears [storytelling slows down to focus on the major issues] to focus on Jang-Saeng and Gong-Gil which is something I was a little sad about. Unlike films like 스캔들 (Untold Scandal) and the way it deals with its historical setting, this film tends to focus more on a sort of 삼각관계 (menage a trois) between Yeonsan, Gong-Gil and Jang-Saeng. You could consider that a strength of the film, but then again also a weakness, if you think about what I said earlier about focusing so much on the dualism between the two Clowns."

Lee Seung-Hoon: "There's definitely something different between the Jang-Saeng portrayed on screen and the one in the play. In the play Jang-Saeng is pretty much like a lover to Gong-Gil, and in the film more than an homosexual code, the image of very close friends, brothers, colleagues is much stronger than that, no matter what people say regarding the homosexuality in the film. In the play there's even Jang-Saeng and Gong-Gil kissing each other, and I think Jang-Saeng was a little more charming in the play? Why? 'Cause I was the one playing him, obviously... (laughs)"

More clips from the play. This deals with Jang-Saeng speaking to Gong-Gil after receiving punishment from the King. Beautiful scene, in some ways hitting home even more than the film. Gong-Gil and Jang-Saeng dance together, and then... Jang-Saeng gets hit from behind, laughing on his way down.

Kim Tae-Woong: "When I heard Director Lee wanted to focus more on Jang-Saeng than Gong-Gil I had a few complaints as the original play's writer, as I thought Gong-Gil was really important to highlight that balance between power and the Clowns' sense of identity. But then I think he gave the Jang-Saeng in the film a distinctive charm of his own."

Director Lee explains the meaning of 爾 (Yi), which was a more deferential way to address people in the Joseon Dynasty. Just translating as 'you' wouldn't do, he comments that it was something closer to the meaning of 'Sir' in English. And, considering the relationship between Yeonsan (The King) and Gong-Gil (The Clown), that word was much more meaningful in that context.

A few clips from the auditions for the Musical Yi are shown. Nice songs.

Kim Tae-Woong: "If the focus of the play was about Gong-Gil and Yeonsan, and the film was more about Jang-Saeng, the musical focuses strongly on Gong-Gil once again. The story actually ends with an aria from Gong-Gil. I think all three were able to bring to the forefront all the various elements of our traditional performing arts. So if something like 취화선 (Chihwaseon) highlighted painting, this film entertained people by using the core of performing arts like pansori and funambulism."

More clips from Musical Auditions. Hide the thin glasses.

Kim closes talking about how the content and its portrayal through these three forms (film, theater, musical) was really a great challenge for them, but also a little confusing in a way, as changing the 'genre' the approach to what's popular certainly changes. Of course the fact this film did so well at the box office was nice in itself, but he considers more valuable seeing the mainstream accept something different on such a level, allowing it to pass the 10 Million tickets sold. And if that leads to more variety in Korean Cinema on a commercial level, that's even more positive.
COMMENT: Great peek into the mind of Kim Tae-Woong and the original play. You can feel what Lee Joon-Ik was talking about on various interviews when they had a 'rocky' relationship at the beginning of the adaptation process. Kim is very opinionated, and also very honest about the things he liked and liked a little less in the film. And of course seeing clips from the play itself is very nice, although maybe showing the full (what was it, 20 Minutes? I don't remember) EBS clip would have been truly great. Still, top notch interview once again.


연산을 위한 변명 (Explaining Yeonsan) [14:31]

We start with historian Shin Dong-Joon introducing the fact that most records dealing with Yeonsan were responsible for building the current negative image he carries, in his opinion.

We see Yeonsan's Tomb.

Jung Jin-Young: "Playing this character I really felt his sadness. He was a King but someone who knew what his ultimate fate would eventually be, with his depression mixed with a strong Oedipus Complex. Reading a collection of his poems, you could feel this was a man who knew it was only a matter of time before his life would be ruined. So instead of focusing too much on historical records, we focused on that kind of sadness the King showed."

While Lee Byung-Woo's beautiful soundtrack plays, we get to read some of Yeonsan's poems.


인생은 초로와 같아서
만날 때가 많지 않은 것


Just like dew on the grass
life is about not being able to meet often

Yeonsan 12th Year (1506) September 23"

Shin Dong-Joon: "During Yeonsan's rule two purges of scholars took place, first the 무오사화 (戊午士禍, Muosahwa, First Purge of Scholars, 1498) and later the 갑자사화 (甲子士禍, Gabjasahwa, Second Purge of Scholars, 1504). But this 사화 (士禍, sahwa) originally refers to scholars (士) getting massacred (禍), and if you look at the matter objectively, who's to blame for all that? When King Sejo was on his way to the throne, he forced young Danjong to abdicate [Danjong was son of Munjong, who was Crown Prince and also Sejo's brother but quickly died due to illness. In line with Yi Dynasty succession rules, the throne went to 12 year old Danjong, who was just a puppet of General Kim Jong-Seo] in 1455. One of the major culprits in the way the strife over the Royal Line developed during King Seongjong's reign was Kim Jong-Jik [one of the leading figures in the rebirth of the Neo-Confucian school], and his pupil Kim Il-Son took it from there and continued a smear campaign against Sejo's past policies towards scholars.

The biggest issue Kim Il-Son contested was the Royal Line's legitimacy itself, seeing how Sejo got to the throne. So in a way by saying that, Kim was implying Yeonsan, who was born from the union between a concubine (Lady Yoon) and one of Sejo's grandsons who would later become King Seongjong, wasn't fit to be a King. So the key here wasn't so much Yeonsan being responsible for those purges. Any King, be it Munjong, Danjong or Yeonsan himself would have eventually led things to the purges, as the elite of scholars involving Kim Il-Son contested the Royal Line ever since Sejo became King. Because the man who caused this massacre of scholars was from the 사림파 (The Neo-Confucian clan) he shot himself in the foot, eventually. So Yeonsan keeps getting portrayed as the one responsible for those purges, but it wasn't really his fault."

"인군의 도

들국화는 시들었는데
국화는 난만하고
붉은 매화 떨어지자
휜 매화 한창이네,
풍물을 구경하며
하늘 이치 안다지만
인군의 도는 먼저
화목한 정서를 하는 것이라.

The King's Truth

The wildflowers withered
the chrysanthemums in full bloom
the red apricots fall down
the white apricots at their most beautiful,
looking at nature
he knows heaven holds the truth
but the King's truth above all
is a symbol of harmony.

Yeonsan's 9th Year (1503), October 14"

Shin Dong-Joon: "Yeonsan's mother Lady Yoon is mentioned in relation to the second Purge of Scholars, the 갑자사화 (Gabjasahwa). It's called so because it took place in the 갑자 (甲子, year of the Rat). But although it's named after the year of the Rat, that certainly wasn't when the roots of this purge started forming, as it dealt with those who moved to kill Lady Yoon. You could say this purge, in contrast with the first one, was much more serious and even excessive, if you will."

"덕 없는 이 몽

용렬한 자질로 위에
있은 지 십년인데
너그러운 정사 못하니
부끄런 마음 금할 길 없네.
조정 안에 종사를 생각하여
보필하는 자 없으니
이 모두 어린 이 몽
덕이 없음이로다.

This graceless Dream

As well as a foolish temperament
It's been ten years
I can't freely indulge in state affairs
So there's no way to repress my shameful mind.
Thinking of the heirs in the Royal Court
no man is giving the King any advice
So childish is this dream
and it has no grace.

Yeonsan's 10th Year (1504), March 24"

Shin Dong-Joon: "Park Won-Jong, Yoo Soon-Jeong and Seong Hee-Ahn were responsible for Yeonsan's demise from the Palace. But this deposing of the King, and using 반정 (restoring order [in the Palace]) itself to describe the event is a bit of a paradox. Usually things like these happen, just like the name says, to restore peace and order in the Palace and serve the people in a better way. Yet this coup d'etat dealt essentially with morals within the palace and party strife, as the three men didn't know Junjong [The New King] until he was proclaimed King, so it wasn't a reform to improve things.

The best way to see the real Yeonsan is reading his poems, particularly for two reasons. First was the fact Yeonsan's state of mind emerged from those writings. Those poems also present a radically different portrait of the King, compared to all the scandals and issues dealing with Nok-Soo emerging in historical records. Through the poems, Yeonsan finally found a way to express his frustration, and show that he in fact wasn't really interested in increasing his power, unlike what the records would tell you. Looking at the way he conducted himself in the palace, enjoying the presence of women, music and other arts shows he in some ways was closer to the people. He didn't carry that image of the 폭군 (despot), but those poems revealed the man behind the figure. So it wasn't Yeonsan as a King, but as a living, breathing man, with all his demons and charms.

Looking at Joseon's history, from its founder Lee Seong-Gye to King Sejo up to Yeonsan the 신권 (Divine Right of the King) and all the various Royal Blood Line-related misfortunes were always the core issue behind party strife and the weakening of the King's Power. So the roots of all problems related to Yeonsan's tenure was the Neo-Confucian Faction's challenging of the King's Divine Right. In cases like King Sejong and Taejong, they dealt with the issue with their own power, but Yeonsan had to deal with his mother's death and other things, so his tentative to restore authority to the throne was heavily influenced by what happened to him. You could say Yeonsan was the last King in the Joseon Dynasty to try to regain that 'Mandate of Heaven' which kept losing importance because of the increasingly powerful influence of Palace Nobles."

"떨어진 열매

복숭아나무 가꿔
열매 둘이 열었는데
하루 밤 센 바람에
모두 뜰에 떨어졌네
가꾼 은근한 공
허사로 돌아가니
무슨 일로
하늘은 이다지 무정한가.

Falling fruits

The peach tree grow
bearing two fruits
In just one night
They all fall in the courtyard
This fallen, quiet emptiness
all gone in vain
What could have caused
such cruelty by Heaven.

Yeonsan's 10th Year (1504), March 24"
COMMENT: What to say, I could watch things like these 24/7. The Joseon Dynasty might be known as a 'peaceful' period from the outside, but it's so full of intrigue, party strife and general decadence that would often make more aggressive cultures look tame in comparison. And even if you don't care much about Korean History, this is a pretty fantastic introduction to Yeonsan's figure, putting in context all the behind the scenes intrigue which led to his madness. Superb.


연회의 뒷편 (Behind The Feast) [5:45]

Essentially this deals with the actors rehearsing their performances, from the fundamentals to their work together. It's quite enjoyable even without subtitles, as you basically get to see the cast try out the play satirizing the King while fooling around and constantly cracking up. And most importantly you'll see how much the actors improved in just a couple of months by looking at the final result in the film. Balls of fun, especially during the Beijing Opera performance.


셋째 마당 (The Third Yard)

포스터 촹영현장 (Poster Shoot) [5:35]

Posters for this film were particularly beautiful, so this was an interesting clip. We see the actors prepare for the shoot, and then all the different shoots for the various posters. Since it's pretty much dialogue-less, you can enjoy it without subs.

제작보고회 (Production Meeting) [6:02]

This was staged outdoors in a small village, with folk performances like the ones in the film introducing the presentation. The actors are introduced for the usual group photos, and then introduce themselves.

Jung Jin-Young: "Even though this film mostly deals with the lives of the Clowns inside the palace, it also prominently featured Yeonsan. And I was a little... annoyed. Because, you know, personality-wise Yeonsan wasn't exactly the best out there, and even my son told me 'Dad, of all the Kings... did you really have to play Yeonsan? (laughs)'

Kang Sung-Yeon: "At first the Nok-Soo in the film thinks she has Yeonsan all for herself, but when she discovers it's not the case, she starts getting confused, enraged, and plots revenge. At the end of the day, all she was seeing was Yeonsan, and no one else around him, so in a sense she could be called a second mother to him. That 모성 (motherhood) code was something I wanted to try, but since she didn't have many scenes to deal with and not much in the way of dialogue, I thought of the best way to bring out those sentiments in an effective way, despite the small role."

Lee Joon-Ik: "The Clowns in our culture weren't like the ones in Shakespeare's work, in that they put their whole body on the line to entertain, so I wanted to focus on that aspect for once."

Gam Woo-Sung: "The focus of my performance here was doing my best at what I liked doing, which is also symbolic of Jang-Saeng's life."

The cake is out, and the actors pose for the usual photos, while we head to the closing moments.

시사회 현장 (Press Screening) [4:39]

Essentially the same, only difference is it's indoor this time. We hear a few comments from the actors, then cast, director and producer are introduced on the stage.

뮤직비디오 (Music Video) [4:19]
Lee Seon-Hee - 인연

Although older fans might scream blasphemy, let's just say Lee Seon-Hee was in the 80s what Lee So-Young is today, the queen of ballads. I think nowadays she's been active with the various 7080 concerts (a revival of older hits from decades ago. It's actually very popular with older folks), but she also released her 13th Album last year. Great song, pretty nice Music Video.

TV SPOT [1:04]

Essentially a shorter version of the Theatrical Trailer, without the shaky first 30 seconds. Well edited, and good choice of background music.

예고편 (Theatrical Trailer) [2:28]

I don't know what to say about this Trailer. It's not really bad, but you'd expect something slightly better. The first 30-40 seconds are edited pretty badly, but things pick up towards the end. Sells the film right (of course it did, 12 Million tickets!), but at times it feels like a trailer for some big budget SF blockbusters in terms of editing and soundbites. Could be better, but not entirely a waste.

스틸 겔러리 (Still Gallery) [2:05]

Really beautiful design (we see the still inside a janggu), but they tend to be hard to see for that reason. They're more or less the same stills you can find at Naver Movies or Cine21, but they gain a different mood within this design, while Lee Byung-Woo's subtly beautiful soundtracks plays in the background.

- 1. 가려진 - Jang Jae-Hyung [Jang-Saeng's Theme] (5:53)
Nice, sad intro, repeating some of the lines Jang-Saeng says at the end. Jang Jae-Hyun also sang a duet with Eom Jung-Hwa for the 호로비츠를 위하여 (For Horowitz) soundtrack.

2. Prologue - 먼길 (1:35)
The song appearing during the opening credits.

3. 각시탈 (0:48)
4. 돌아올수 없는 (1:34)
5. 너 거기 있니? 나 여기 있어 (1:29)
6. 세상속으로 (1:45)
7. 위험한 제의 하나 (0:45)
8. 행복한 광대들 (1:32)

9. 내가 왕이 맞느냐? (0:49)
One of my favourite pieces, this is used right when Yeonsan questions Cheo-Seon on his legitimacy as a King. Very Lee Byung-Woo style.

10. 위험한 제의 둘 (0:45)
11. 꿈꾸는 광대들 (1:01)
12. 수청 (1:07)
13. 인형 놀이 (1:06)
14. 연정 (00:50)
15. 그림자 놀이 - 봉황은 울지 않는다 (1:48)
16. 피적삼의 울음소리 (1:52)

17. 광대사냥 (1:40)
Jaws meets Sageuk! Brilliant little piece for the 'hunting' games.

18. 광대의 죽음 (0:45)
19. 어서쏴 (0:39)
20. 질투 (0:36)

21. 장생의 분노 (1:21)
Badass string (mostly cello) piece giving gravity to the scene. Moody.

22. 내가 썼소 (0:54)
23. 애원 (1:03)
24. 장생의 외침 (1:48)
25. 눈먼 장생 (3:30)
26. 자궁속으로 (1:24)
27. 반정의 북소리 (0:39)
28. 반허공 (3:56)
29. 에필로그 - 돌아오는길 (3:22)
30. 반허공 (Guitar Version) (3:54)
OVERALL: I usually tend to enjoy two types of film soundtracks the most: those that perfectly blend with the film's flow, and the ones with plain great music. For the latter, cases like 원더풀 데이즈 (Wonderful Days), 혈의 누 (Blood Rain) and 태풍태양 (The Aggressives) are perfect examples. As for the former, the works of Lee Byung-Woo, the soundtrack of this film in particular, tend to be a pretty good example of that 'blending'. I wouldn't call this an impressive soundtrack, removed from the film. And that's the key, REMOVED from the film, because it perfectly supports the film and nothing else. So what probably doesn't stand on its own feet as a must buy CD doesn't mean the soundtrack isn't great. Too bad they didn't add Lee Seon-Hee's song.

I still remember when the Special Edition of 쉬리 (Shiri) came out on DVD, the first (or one of the first anyway) Korean DVD to feature English Subtitles. The occasion obviously was the incredible success of Kang Je-Gyu's film, enough that we went from the barebones original release (essentially a VCD slapped on DVD with very little fanfare) to a pretty good 2-Disc Edition. When over a year after its theater release Myung Films finally decided to release 공동경비구역 JSA (Joint Security Area), most people had already bought the Hong Kong DVD, so some of them lost the opportunity to check what's still one of the all time best Korean DVDs. Other big time box office hits like Kwak Kyung-Taek's 친구 (Friend), Kang Woo-Suk's 실미도 (Silmido) and Kang Je-Gyu's 태극기 휘날리며 (Taegukgi) received good to very good DVD releases, but the best was always elsewhere, perhaps because box office success not only doesn't guarantee a good film, but it also doesn't necessarily mean you'll get a mammoth DVD.

But considering the state the Korean DVD Market is in, efforts like the 형사 Duelist DVD and this release itself should be applauded. We're not just dealing with the most successful Korean film of all time, but one of the very finest releases you'll have in your collection. The passion shown by Director Lee, the cast and crew in making this one of the most inspirational success stories in Chungmuro history oozes from every single Minute of this release, and finding filler or throwaway material is nearly impossible. What you get is one of the best films of the year, two interesting (although not exceptional) audio commentaries, and nearly four hours of top notch extra features. Then of course there's all the ancillary material, like the booklet and the postcards, along with the sturdy box. But just like the film, what really counts is not the appearance, it's what's inside.

This was just a little tribute celebrating not only this industry's most successful film ever, but also the kind of project which I think should become the focus of Chungmuro's future (it's happening, but it will take quite some time). Good actors, ambitious directors, intelligent producers and interesting subjects. Not super-blockbusters with nothing to say; vapid exotica made to please European festivals; or empty vessels starring big names with very little acting talent and subjects tailor made for target demographics in another country, who might find their new Yonsama tomorrow and turn the whole industry's annual export profits into peanuts before you can say 'okasan.'

I won't promise many specials of this kind in the future because it's just a crazy idea I could handle only once or twice a year, but I can safely say you'll get something similar when a little film about baby Monsters infesting the Han River comes out on DVD. If you went through the effort to keep your eyes open while reading my crazy infatuation with this film, then we can go straight to what you wanted to know all along. Must buy? You bet. And long live the Clowns...

FILM (Theatrical Cut): 8.5
FILM (International Cut): 8.5
AUDIO: 8.5
OVERALL (Film Rating Counted Twice): 9.00


왕의 남자 (The King and The Clown)
WangUi Namja [lit. The King's Man]

Eagle Pictures/Cineworld - 2006

감독 (Director): 이준익 (Lee Joon-Ik)

출연 (CAST): 감우성 (Gam Woo-Sung) as Jang-Saeng, 정진영 (Jung Jin-Young) as Yeonsan, 강성연 (Kang Sung-Yeon) as Jang Nok-Soo, 이준기 (Lee Joon-Gi) as Gong-Gil, 장항선 (Jang Hang-Seon) as Cheo-Seon, 유해진 (Yoo Hae-Jin) as Yook-Gab, 정석용 (Jung Seok-Yong) as Chil-Deuk, 이승훈 (Lee Seung-Hoon) as Pal-Bok, 윤주상 (Yoon Ju-Sang) as Seong Hee-An, 최일화 (Choi Il-Hwa) as Sung Joon, 신정근 (Shin Jung-Geun) as Lee Geuk-Gyun, 박수일 (Park Su-Il) as Park Won-Jong, 우현 (Woo Hyun) as Eunuch Hong, 윤소정 (Yoon So-Jung)

제작 (Executive Producer): 이준익 (Lee Joon-Ik), 정진완 (Jung Jin-Wan)
프로듀서 (PD): 정진완 (Jung Jin-Wan)
조감독 (Assistant Director): 안태진 (Ahn Tae-Jin)
각본 (Screenplay): 최석환 (Choi Seok-Hwan), 김태웅 (Kim Tae-Woong)
촬영 (Cinematography): 지길웅 (Ji Gil-Woong)
조명 (Lighting): 한기업 (Han Gi-Eop)
음악 (Music): 이병우 (Lee Byung-Woo)
미술 (Art Director): 강승용 (Kang Seung-Yong)
특수시각효과 (Special Visual Effects):
무술 (Action): 오세영 (Oh Se-Young)
분장 (Make-Up): 강대영 (Kang Dae-Young), 박미정 (Park Mi-Jung)
의상 (Costumes): 심현섭 (Shim Hyeon-Seop)
편집 (Editing): 김상범 (Kim Sang-Beom), 김재범 (Kim Jae-Beom)
사운드 디자이너 (Sound Designer): 최태영 (Choi Tae-Young)

개봉 (Release): 12/29/2005
Box Office: 12,300,000 Tickets Sold Nationwide
Official Website

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More about King and the Clown, The

thunderboltJuly 24, 2006 2:10 AM

X, you've outdone yourself again. I've just finished watching the special features so this is perfect timing.

Stupendous review. THANK YOU.

jon paisJuly 24, 2006 2:20 AM

Superb review, very informative. Can go along with you on the soundtrack -- it supports the visuals, but as a stand-alone purchase, I would pass. Comments on the English subtitling excellent as well -- I thoroughly enjoyed the contrast between the Shakespearean & 'vulgar' English, but your observation about it being somewhat distant from the concept of the film is well taken. Ditto for the remarks about Director Lee's 'disappearing' behind the camera to let the story unfold: the majority of viewers for whom this film was made are looking for colorful sets, solid acting, and a well-told story, not fancy camerawork or lighting, while I tend to favor the artsy stuff above all else. Very well-balanced review. If a modestly priced HK DVD with decent transfer and subs appeared, I'd still recommend that over the pricey LE set to non-Korean speakers. Review makes me want to go out and buy Forbidden Quest!

nidnoyJuly 24, 2006 12:25 PM

thank u x. your reviews are ,i would like to quote what elizabeth bishop says --- "like what we imagine knowledgee to be." thank u.

flanderJuly 24, 2006 3:09 PM

I salute you for this very detailed and helpful review, loaded with informations. The background on Cineworld and Lee Joon-Ik are especially precious, they were rarely written in English with such great details, really helpful for non-Koreans like me to get into the context and understand better of the history of Korean film industry for the past 10 years. It is very unfortunate the western media felt the need to grasp on the "brokeback" angle to make the film's success 'story-worthy'. I'm glad to read about the director's economic reasons for keeping his visuals basic and more importantly, keeping his storytelling strongly character driven. The lack of fancy camera tricks is one of the biggest complain on this film I've often read on the net from English speakers, hence getting a lot of "don't get what the big fuss was", "can't fanthom a reason why this gets so popular" reaction. Maybe a lot of those who would seek out Korean/Asian cinema usually have a certain appetite that humble storytelling like this is too dull of them. Your intensive article provide great insights into the tough journey this film had came through and why the success was significant to future filmmaking. I felt that too many people were disappointed in this film for the wrong reasons. I love this film and understand why it won people's hearts (artsy tricks doesn't win heart). I especially enjoyed what "Yi' playwright Kim Tae-Woong had to say, interesting stuffs. I really appreicate your effort in writing such a long review dedicated to this, great job. :D

Douglas RoyJuly 24, 2006 6:48 PM

X, once again I was blown away with the extensive detail and background information you provided not only regarding the history of Cineworld and director Lee Jook-Ik's evolving career decisions but also the extensive summaries related to the box set of "The King and the Clown." I agree with flander's succinct summary/response to your commentary that the criticisms related to the film's "basic" cinematography were unfounded. The story is what captured my heart and mind, not the hoopla surrounding its allegedly "homo-erotic" themes. Once again, the western press gets it all wrong. Your multi-faceted essay/review was well worth the many weeks of anticipation by those who read you on a regular basis.

lady wakasaAugust 6, 2006 12:23 PM

Fantastic review - thank you very much! This article is a great resource for someone who doesn't know Korean - either the language or culture - enough (well, at all) to understand everything in the movie. I liked the film, but I appreciated it much much more after reading about the layers of detail incorporated into the story. This is also a great place to send my friends as I convince them to see the movie.

Now if only it would come to the big screen in the States. I would be the first in line - and I would pick up even more.