The King And The Clown | Analysis


23 Mar 2015 19 May 2017

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The movie King and the Clown has touched a subject that is considered as a proscribed and outlawed by the Korean society and yet it has struck a chord with the Korean people.The movie"King and the Clown", has some the most marvelous and enthralling performances by the actors. The movie has a controversial theme of homosexuality which has the potential to upset the emotions and mindsets of many of the conservative Koreans, but each element of the movie is so convincing and perfectly played that the causal idea never seems to look vulgar. It has managed to keep the balance in between too shocking or being overly-exaggerated. There are a lot of mixed emotions in the movie which are tied to the characters itself. There is love, hatred, jealousy, trust, anger, surprise remorse, aggressiveness. As the movie goes on, the viewer tends to experience all these feelings, and sometimes even imagine himself in the place of the characters. The ability to connect with the audiences despite being set up on such a controversial topic is what sets the movie apart.


The movie "The King and the Clown" has its background set in the Joseon Dynasty. This resembles many of the generic Korean dramas we haves seen in many movies, but the plot here is quite original and well scripted. The story of the movie takes in its center, a band of impecunious and hard-up traveling entertainers. Movie's two main characters are Jang-Saeng and Gong-il. They are both lovers. Both of them being of the same sex is quite shocking to many Koreans and also is quite new to be seen in the Korean movies. But the catch here is that Gong-il whose role is being played by actor Lee Jun-ki, has very feminine feature and one could at a thought think of him as a girl; and at some moment one almost want to believe that the actor is a girl. Both of the actors have shared a very strong bond throughout the movie. Some of the scenes of the movie has clearly shown the great chemistry shared by both. It seems that they really look out for one another. In the starting, both of them decide to go to Hanyang (now Seoul), in order to expand their talents and present themselves to a lot more people and make their show bigger and better. It is there that they find many other similarly and hugely talented minstrels and then join their act. Now to do something new and to gain fame and money, ang-Seang, who is the chief of the troupe, they decide to mock the king and his favorite Nok-Su as this would attract a lot of people to their act. Now as their fame spread, one of the king's official get winds of their act and get them arrested for treason against the state. The official then puts a condition in front of them that they have to perform in front of the king and if he likes their show, their life would be spared. This was in fact a plan of the official to let the king know about the injustice and corruption spread in his territory through the mocking.

The King's court

Now the role of the King is played by actor Jung Jin-Young who portrays the tyrannical king brilliantly. It is said that the king's character in the movie is based on a real-life king. The king has also got problems of his own and was psychologically disfigured because his mother was forced to commit suicide by the king's of that time and this made him repulsive towards the people and the society. As he grew up, he started showing the signs of unstable caprices of a child who was hurt, wounded and spoiled by that incident. But as the clowns performed, instead of feeling insulted and shameful, the King became very amused with the acts and decided to keep the troupe as court jesters in the king's grand palace. This is truly magnificent as it shows sides of the king which make us believe as the king was a born actor as by chance got his royal bloodline. This could also be interpreted as the king's real or hidden dream. As time passed on the King becomes more and more captivated with Gong-il's bent and sexless beauty. This on the other hand made Jang-Saeng, Nok-su and the ministers feel jealous of Gong-il.

The relationship between the two clown

Kam Woo-Seong has portrayed the role of the unconditional hero as the masculine clown, Jang-Saeng. Lee Jun-ki has totally and justly become a superstar due to his portrayal of Gong-il who is sensitive and loving, the feminine clown. This has really made us to think that is Lee, Jun-ki gay in real life? This is because of his marvelous performance in the movie. There is so much boldness required to play a character like the one our hero has played. The relationship between the clowns is quite extraordinary.

There is a rebellious nature to this dynamics. There is an emotional conflict and a mixture of feelings between the two clowns in the movie Jang-sang and Gong-gil. But this conflict is implied rather than made explicit. This forms an intrinsic element of the movie and has a lot of emotional charge within it. The friendship of Jang-sang and Gong-gil sometimes appear to be platonic; Both of them understand and care about one other and the affinity and the connection between them defines and to an extent, affet their actions and decisions later. But that same affinity also has it's down-side. There is frustration, fixation and passion; Jang-sang sulks and hates it when Gong-gil is in the King's company and prefer it rather than his, and Gong-gil is gloomy and downhearted when Jang-sang isn't around. Their emotional connection is intensified by the script itself and also the viewer's interest in their friendship with a lot of intensity attached.

Director's views

The director Lee Jun Ik has already said that the main point of the story was not to raise the issue of homosexuality but the focus was mainly on the life and the worlds of the travelling clowns. It wanted to show and also facts say that it was very common for the traveling clowns to engage in same-sex relationships in those days. The people were quite poor and it was impossible for them to get a wife in this financial situation. Secondly, there were only men who were traveling in groups together and it was very possible for them to make a bond that was very tight and intimate


The movie "King and the Clown" is likely to be said a chronological drama wherein there was lot of emotions attached to it. Also it touched on an issue that is controversial yet is seen vary widely in today's society. Also to say that it had a original plot and highly brilliant actors. The movie very gracefully and tactfully breached one of the subjects that is always been considered taboo. Also the movie has demonstrated how art imitates life. The clown sexuality is completely and willingly accepted in the movie. So one can say that this movie may prove to be a milestone for gay rights and teaches about arts' association with life.


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