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New Drama on Joseon's Legendary Painters

2008/11/05 Source

Based on the bestselling novel of the same name, SBS-TV's new drama "Painter of the Wind" reinterprets and rewrites the lives of leaves of leading Joseon Dynasty painters Kim Hong-do and Shin Yu-bok.

While the series retains the usual elements of intrigue and murder, politics and warfare take a back seat. Romance and the essence of the late Joseon Dynasty, an era of reform and cultural renaissance, come to the forefront, imbuing the period piece with a strong sense of humanity and intimacy.

More importantly, the series takes an approach reminiscent of lush period pieces like E. J-yong (Lee Jae-yong)'s "Untold Scandal" (2003), by focusing on issues of sexuality and gender.

Posing the classically Shakespearian question: "What if the famed painter Shin Yun-bok had been a girl pretending to be a boy?" the drama like the original novel toys with themes of homosexuality and Forbidden Love while highlighting the inequalities of a male-dominated society.

Actress Moon Geun-young took up the challenge of playing girl-turned-boy Shin Yun-bok. And she does a surprisingly good job of portraying a confident and rebellious girl struggling to make it in a world ruled by men.

"I tried to copy my older male costars", said Moon, 21, at the press conference. The precocious actress did more than just mimic her male colleagues. She managed to convey the mischievous and anguished nature of her character, at times playing a sweet and innocent tomboy, at others, a cocky and seductive painter.

Though there is no evidence that the real Shin was a woman, his talent at capturing the beauty of women and creating exquisite intimate paintings remains undisputed.

While fellow genre painter Kim Hong-do a.k.a. Danwon (1745-1806) enjoyed a relatively prominent career as an artist, painter Shin who was expelled from the royal painting institute, Dohwaseo lived a more obscure life.

"Painter of the Wind" takes historical liberties with the lives of Kim Hongdo and Shin Yun-bok, depicting a fullblown romance between Kim, played by Park Shin-yang, and Moon Geun-young's character, against the backdrop of 18th century Korea.

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