Two clowns living in Korea's Chosun Dynasty get arrested for staging a play that satirizes the king. They are dragged to the palace and threatened with execution but are given a chance to save their lives if they can make the king laugh.
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Soul mate minstrels Jang-sang and Gong-gil eke out a living in 14th century Korea through bawdy stories presented in a tightrope act; however, sexual interests of the rich over Gong-gil's androgynous looks impair their basic desire to entertain once too often. A line is crossed, an authority figure dies, and the pair must flee to Seoul. They soon take up with a trio of fellow minstrels and, lead by Jang-sang, present riskier shows that prove more lucrative; but, a scathing exhibition satirizing the king and his concubine puts them under arrest with a set date for execution. Forced to present themselves to the king for final judgment, they surprisingly wind up becoming his court performers, but the tyrannical king, though sensitive and intelligent, is also excessive and psychologically scarred, with the minstrel shows putting him uncomfortably in touch with buried issues over his dead mother (long ago forced to commit suicide by the court). This makes him dangerously unstable. The ...Written by
In 2006, this film became the highest grossing Korean film to its date selling over 12 million tickets (with a total gross of over US$70 million) and surpassing the previous record holder, Taegukgi (2004). Its box office record was broken later in the year by Gwoemul (2006). See more »
In the on-screen translation, opening titles call out Korea's 500-years-plus Chosun Dynasty as being unmatched in the annals of "word" history, rather than "world" history. See more »
From up here, even the palace looks no better than a hovel! In a world full of scoundrels, only here did I meet the nastiest of them all. Ho! And the foul things he would do! Will you hear this tale then? As the gods kill us for their sport, so would he. He killed more souls than there are tiles on these roofs. His lust insatiable, even 2000 virgins were not enough. Why, his pecker was this big. No, THIS big! With it he skewered clam after virgin clam. And when he got tired of ...
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King Young San was perhaps the most infamous tyrant in Korean history (or perhaps the most well known). He showed sociopath tendencies even as a child(hurting animals and such)but what drove him over the age and started his tyrannical reign was his discovery of the circumstances under his mother died.
His mother Yoon, was the King's favorite concubine. She was falsely accused of plotting to kill her rivals and ordered to drink poison by the king. The circumstances of her death were kept a secret until King Young San found out by accident. Upon his discovery, he was seized with sorrow and rage, and put to death or exiled anyone who was responsible of his mother's death. Even those those who didn't strongly oppose her execution were put to death.
Although he is portrayed as a terrible dictator, his love for his mother and the terrible pain her death caused adds an extra dimension to his tyrannical reign.
It is interesting to note (according to the movie) his bringing the clowns into the palace and having them perform those skits was what drove his ministers into a rebellion.
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