Synopsis by Josh Ralske
Renowned Korean director Im Kwon-Taek (Chunhyang) tells the story of legendary iconoclastic Chosun Dynasty artist Oh-won (Choi Min-Sik). With little reliable documentation of the artist's life, the director (along with co-writer Kim Young-Oak) used dramatic license to fill in the details of the man's life. Born a peasant named Jang Seung-ub in 1843, the artist used his talents to escape a life of poverty. A wealthy nobleman, Kim Byung-Moon (Ahn Sung-Ki), recognizes Jang's talent, and takes him in at an early age. Master Kim recommends Jang to a respected art teacher, and his career path begins. As a young man, Jang grows in stature for his ability to flawlessly copy well-known Chinese paintings. He also falls in love with a noble's daughter, Mae-Hyang (You Ho-Jeong). Because of the class difference, he can never be with her, and he's heartbroken when she marries another man. This sets him on the path he follows for much of his life -- that of a drunken wanderer. Despite his self-destructive hard drinking, his penchant for consorting with prostitutes, his impoverished background, his refusal to follow anyone's rules, the political turbulence of the times in which he lives, and the fact that he rarely signs his own work, Oh-won rises to prominence as an artist. Director Im shared the Best Director prize (with Paul Thomas Anderson) at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, and Chihwaseon was also featured in the 2002 New York Film Festival.
alcoholism, artist, class [social], class-system, daughter, painting, peasant, prostitute/prostitution, teacher