King and the Clown (35mm)

Lee Jun-ik
왕의 남자
South Korea

BFI Southbank

26 April



The late 15th century: Jangsaeng and Gong-gil are jesters who tour the country performing tightrope acts and bawdy comic routines. The beautiful Gong-gil takes the female roles, and out of the public eye, offers his sexual services to rich customers. Jangsaeng and Gong-gil become tremendously popular after developing a treasonous act that mocks King Yeonsan, and brought before the monarch, they soon become ensnared in a web of dangerous passions. Released in 2005, this was highest-viewed film of the year in South Korea, making a star out of Lee Joon-gi and attracting attention for its frank portrayal of queer attraction, which was unusual and controversial at the time. Contemplating the fluid nature of desire, The King and the Clown depicts violence as a force that is both repressive and repressed. 

Lee Jun-ik

Lee Jun-ik made his directing debut with Kid Cop in 1993, and has also been involved in other film industry activities such as marketing and distribution. Once Upon a Time in a Battlefield (2003) blended comedy with historical drama, cementing the director’s reputation as an innovative force in popular genre cinema.