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Im Kwon-taek

Painted Fire (취화선)

Director Im Kwon-taek Composer Kim Young-dong Cast Choi Min-sik, Ahn Sung-ki, Yu Ho-jeong
120' - 2002 - Drama, Biography - Dialogue: Korean, Japanese
Veteran director Im Kwon-taek tells the story of a famous Korean painter and erotomaniac who is completely absorbed in his work and goes through life drinking and copulating. The film is set against the backdrop of Korea's turbulent history of the second half of the 19th century.

Making his directorial debut in 1960, Korea's most productive director ever - Im Kwon-taek - has more than hundred films on his resume. His 98th film won him the prize for best director at the Cannes film festival. Each frame is a diamond in terms of composition, use of colour, placement and movement of characters. The pictorial style is dictated by the subject: the half-fictional biography of the wandering Korean painter prince and bon vivant 'Ohwon' Jang Seung-up who lived in turbulent second half of the nineteenth century. In elegant tableaux, Im paints the portrait of an exuberant artist who is completely absorbed in his work, goes through life drinking and copulating, never defends those in power, and always retains his freedom and independence.

"Grounded by a vigorous, physical performance from Choi Min-sik, who brings both earthiness and grandeur to the central role, the film vividly evokes the world of an obsessive natural talent." - Variety

"Another masterpiece from one of the world's more neglected great directors, a master artist who here reveals the soul of another." - Chicago Tribune

Image gallery

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Im Kwon-taek


Kim Young-dong


Choi Min-sik, Ahn Sung-ki, Yu Ho-jeong


Im Kwon-taek, Kim Yong-ok, Min Byung-sam

Director of Photography

Jeon Il-seong


Park Sun-duk


Lee Tae-won

Production studios

CJ Entertainment

More info


Korean, Japanese

Countries of production

South Korea




Im Kwon-taek

Jeonjaenggwa noin (1962), Dumanganga jal itgeola (1962), Shinmungo (1963), Mangbuseog (1963), Namjaneun anpallyeo (1963), Danjang lok (1963), Yeonghwa mama (1964), Shibnyeon sedo (1964), Yogmangui gyeolsan (1964), Wanggwa sangno (1965), Pungunui geomgaek (1967), Nilniri (1966), Naneum wang-ida (1966), Jeonjaenggwa yeogyosa (1966), Manghyang cheonri (1967), Lady in Dream (1968), Baramgateun sanai (1968), Yohwa Jang Huibin (1968), Eagle of the Plains (1969), Roegeom (1969), Night of the Full Moon (1969), Rain on Gomo Bridge (1969), Soknunseobi kin yeoja (1970), A Woman Pursued (1970), Binaerineun seonchangga (1970), Wolhaui geom (1970), Yogeom (1971), The Two Revengeful Hunchbacks (1971), 30 nyeonmanui daegyeol (1971), One Returns and the Other Leaves (1972), Cruel History of Myeong-dong (1972), Myeongdong samgukji (1972), Duljjae eomeoni (1972), Pursuit of the Bandits (1973),The Hidden Princess (1974), Wives on Parade (1974), Jeungeon (1974), Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1975), Nakdongkaneun heureuneunga (1976), Bare Feet in the Snow (1976), My Hometown (1976), Madame Kye in the Imjin War (1977), The Evergreen Tree (1978), The Divine Bow (1979), Genealogy (1979), Pursuit of Death (1980), The Hidden Hero (1980), The Wealthy Woman (1980), Mandala (1981), Abenko Green Berets (1982), The Polluted One (1982), High School Tears (1982), Village in the Mist (1983), Ticket (1986), Heureuneun gangmuleul eojji makeorya (1986), Gilsoddeum (1986), The Surrogate Woman (1987), Adada (1987), Diary of King Yonsan (1988), Aje aje bara aje (1989), Hand in Hand (1989), General's Son (1990), Fly High Run Far - Kae Byok,Son of a General II (1991), Son of a General III (1992), Sopyonje (1993), The Taebaek Mountains (1994), Festival (1996), Downfall (1997), Chunhyang (2000), Painted Fire (2002), Low Life (2004), Beyond the Years (2007), Hanji (2011), Hwajang (2014)