The King and the Clown

The King and the Clown

Movie: The King and the Clown
Director: Lee Joon-ik
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South Korean director Lee Joon-Ik’s feature The King and the Clown has the double distinction of being the highest-grossing film in Korean history at the time of its release and one of the first Korean commercial films to deal openly and unabashedly with gay themes, it is regarded in many quarters as “the Korean Brokeback Mountain.” Adapted from Kim Tae-Woong’s play Yi, this period drama concerns two 16th century, Chosun Era clowns: the supremely self-assured Jang-seng and transsexual Gong-gil, who earn a meager living as street performers in Hanyang. Miraculously, their excruciating poverty comes to an end when the tyrannical King Yon-san catches their act and, delighted, invites them to serve as resident court jesters at his palace. But matters grow increasingly complex and tricky when Yon-san feels a torrent of lust for Gong-gil and attempts to possess the androgynous performer. This elicits unbridled jealousy from Jang-seng and not only sets him on a head-to-head collision course with the king, but threatens to propel Yon-san into full insanity.

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