Movie Monday: The King and the Clown (2005)

Starring: Lee Jun-Ki as Gong-Gil, Kam Woo-Sung as Jang-Sang, Jung Jin-Young as King Yeonsan, and Kang Sung-Yeon as Lady Jang Nok-Su

Rating: R, subject matter and some violence

Running Time: min

Twinkies: 4+

Synopsis: Prologue from the movie: Korea’s Chosun Dynasty, founded at the end of the 14th century, lasted until the beginning of the 20th. Lasting over 500 years, its uniqueness under the reign of 27 kings still remains unmatched in the annals of word history. To each King were assigned several Royal Secretaries whose function was to keep a diary on behalf of the King. Upon the King’s passing Court Historians edited these exhaustive records for posterity, including succeeding Kings. The massive collection of these edited diaries, called The Royal Records of the Chosun Dynasty has survived intact. The King of this story, the Records show, was singularly tyrannical; no king before or after him shared his excesses. Nonetheless, the Records also give us a portrait of him as a man of great sensitivity and intelligence. When he was a child, his mother was ordered to commit suicide by poison after falling victim to court machinations. Her death left a lasting trauma on the future king’s psyche. No doubt, this trauma played a significant role in the deformation of his character. On September 2, 1506, he was dethroned violently after a revolt by the nobles.

This movie is about a pair of male circus troupe actors. We have the boisterous and macho Jang-seng and quiet, yet feminine Gong-gil. This struggling acting troupe travels to Seoul in the hopes of getting favor with the King. Their show is complete with enough bawdy humor and gender-bending to make a contemporary audience blush, even going so far as to mock the famously hedonistic king. After being promptly arrested, they’re given a chance to spare themselves if they can make the king laugh. To everyone’s surprise, the ecstatic monarch loves the show and names the actors official court jesters, giving them more extravagant food and shelter than they’d ever imagined. But the king’s attentiveness to Gong-gil makes it quickly apparent that humor isn’t the only thing motivating his generosity.

    The King and the Clown is based on the 2001 play “Yi”. Total box admissions were 12.3 million, easily making it the most viewed in Korean cinema history up to that time (surpassed by The Host in 2006). (from

Musings: Fair warning, this is truly an adult themed movie because of the subject matter shown. I do not recommend this for anyone under the age of 18. I generally would not review this movies because I tend to discuss movies that anyone can watch but this will be one of the rare exceptions to the rules.

The acting by all of the cast was absolutely superb!! This was the first time I’d ever seen Kam Woo-Sung. His portrayal of Jang-Sang was simply amazing. His true friendship and willingness to protect his friend, Gong-Gil, played by Lee Jun Ki was admirable. There was nothing romantic about their relationship. He simply looked at Gong-Gil as his younger brother and we all know what we are willing to do for own siblings.

Lee Jun Ki as Gong-Gil was, no words. The fact that he was willing to play such a role and boy did he play it! He was simply gorgeous in this, gorgeous! His portrayal of Gong-Gil, a man forced to do things that he did not want to do but willingly did do, to protect his troupe family and his brother, Jang-Sang.

Jung Jin-Young as King Yeonsan was also a treat to watch. Again, this was the first time I’d ever seen him in anything but his acting as the sadistic, and I mean truly sadistic King is one role he will be remembered for forever.

I admit, this movie may not be for everyone and I can understand. It was well filmed and the subject matter would (and could) be disturbing to some but the depiction of the court and the pageantry was amazing and mostly accurate of the time. Watching the dancers and the troupe members was very entertaining. I’ve watched a lot of sageuk dramas so seeing the court dancers was nothing new but this was the first time being able to see what the street troupe actors and dancers were like and let’s just say, very entertaining. The movie ended exactly as I would have expected. But then all endings can’t be happy.

Trailer is available here. The movie is available on several sites. Ask me if your interested. Also available on Netflix if you are a subscriber.

I’m available on Twitter. Thanks to all of you Twinkles out here who are taking the time to read! If you have a suggestion for a future review, just leave me a comment! I’m always happy to have movie suggestions.

As a big fan, I must wish him a prosperous and healthy year, free of scandals, please! What better way to wish him a Happy Birthday than to let others know of his wonderful movies featuring a great and diverse talent! Hoping the best!!
***********************Happy Birthday, Lee Jun Ki!!*****************************

It’s Lee Jun Ki’s Birthday Week! Here’s wishing him the best this year!

15 thoughts on “Movie Monday: The King and the Clown (2005)”

  1. Great review! Happy bday to Lee Jun Ki! I first saw him in My Girl, one of the few dramas in which I rooted for the supporting actor! 🙂

    1. I saw My Girl second as I had to see everything with him in it. Instant Ajumma love! I admit it. And I don’t say that for many actors! A very short list!

  2. Good recap ND made me want to watch. Had seen this movie but the write up made sound like a gay movie. The king in this was in Faith as a bad guy also wasn’t he? Will give it a look. The bday guy was he the one that got in trouble early this yr? Have a good week my friends.

    1. No, that was Park Si Hoo in all of the hot water. At first, I’m quite sure a lot of people thought it was but it is not, sure it touches the subject but you have to see it to know that it really wasn’t and the leads are not romantically involved, just brothers actually.

    1. I looooooooooove this movie. Actually this movie and Lee Jun Ki drew me into watching endless Kmovies and Kdramas since a couple of months. I’d seen the occasional Korean movie before (e.g. Musa and Oldboy), but this movie switched some button and made me work through the stuff Korean movie and film makers produce. So it’s got a very special place in my heart. After watching it for the first time, I simply couldn’t get over Jun Ki’s performance.

      Hope, he’ll continue to entertain us and hope for a very good life for him (esp. after watching his Healing Camp)! Happy birthday and lots of love, Jun Ki!

      Here is a link to an older NY Times article about this movie and the possible homosexual subtext.

      1. At first I though Gong Gi and Jang Sang were but after watching it closely to review, I realized they were not. So the article is not totally true based on the movie. They never were a couple, people just assumed that about their relationship. And I must say, if you love LJK, you MUST see Time Between Dog and Wolf!! I bought it after watching 3 ep!

        1. Time Between Dog and Wolf and Iljimae were my first Kdramas. 😀

          During Healing Camp Lee Jun Ki refers to the homosexual background of his movie, so I guess, it is still open for interpretation. He seems to think it’s gay themed. But honestly, who cares? It’s a very, very good movie, that is all that should matter. 🙂

          1. Oh no, the theme was there but his character really wasn’t gay by choice! But I guess in SK, that would be their interpretation

  3. I watched jung jin-young in Dong Yi and thought he was pretty good. Thanks for your review; this goes on the ‘to watch’ pile but i can sense it won’t be a happy ending. . .

    1. I’m glad you liked NewKDramaAddict’s review. 🙂
      First comment? Welcome to our community of Korean drama lovers! 🙂

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