Dear Reader, since I have the time, and having been reminded by the community in the Hibike discussion, I decided to re watch Painter of the Wind – my favourite Korean TV show ever and really, one of my top 3 shows in existence. There are still shows like Xena, TTSCC and Buffy and those are like my guilty pleasures. Xena was like, the show that made the word ‘subtext’! It deserves all the respect!
PotW aired all the way back in 2008 starring the two world’s favourite Moons – Moon Geun-Young and Moon Chae-won. Wipe that grin off your face, they are not sisters! Anyone into Korean culture should know who Geun-young is and only the core fans know who Chae-won is. I have to confess that I did not know who she was too before seeing her in PotW.
In the 2008 SBS drama awards, Chae-won and Geun-young won the very first, and as far as I am aware, the only yuri best couple award for their roles in Painter of the Wind.
Geun-young played our heroine Shin Yun-bok, a daughter of a famous artist that was killed when she was young due to a scandal on a political scale. In order to save her and for her to be able to utilise the talents of artistry passed down to her from her father, she had to disguise herself as boy since women were apparently not allowed to go into that profession. Yun-bok grew up with the lads as a boy attending the art school with a dream of being the King’s painter.
Chae-won on the other hand played the Gisaeng (Female Entertainer) Jeong-hyang, who was the pride of the town and everyone wanted a piece of her (just like any other love interest for the main character really). But her story was not a fun one. As she tells Yun-bok this very first episode – She is no wild flower that is free for anybody’s picking.
So, why now after all this time? A Reader of mine asked me a long time ago to write about it and I said I was waiting for better subs, which I thought would be coming with the DVDs. I watched the series again when I bought the boxset. The Taiwanese version that I got had English subtitles with it but the DVD quality was not one to write home about. And so I waited for the HD episodes which showed up and when I tried to rip the subtitles from the DVDs to use on the HD episodes, I failed miserably. I could only get the subtitles as idx/sub files and I needed to re-time them to fit the TV since the TV ones had that intro with the ratings.
I somehow forgot about it since then but then came Hibike Euphonium and the ship wars that followed and I was ready to laugh at such childish wars. Seeing all those heated battle, I sat there just reminisced of the years long gone. To think that people are having ship wars over Shuichi! If anyone is like that over Hibike, I think they would simply commit suicide watching PotW. It’s been over 7 years and I still FEEL! But all was worth it! Having said that, I know of people who still don’t think that PotW had a GOOD YURI END. Hopefully if such a person still exists, my run through of the series will erase those doubts.
If this were any other series, it would be a reverse harem, a la Ouran Host Club. Yun-bok was a girl disguised as a boy in an all male school. She had three potential love interests in her step brother Hyung-min (who knew her secret), her rival in school Hyo-won as best protégé and their new teacher Hong-do, who fell in love with Yun-bok and was probably who the other audience that was not shipping the yuri were supporting. He was this close to winning the Yun-bowl but thankfully her finger was already bound with a red string to someone else.
Now, before we proceed, if you are new to this show, I warn you. Just like any Korean Drama you know of, the drama is too intense and the feels sometimes go way to deep. Not to mention the het side had the upper hand all the damn time! But unlike most times that I just simply cannot stand it, this time I could not help but take all them feels on and cry like a pansy every other episode. Every episode is an hour long. Twenty hours of feels, can you handle them? If you are sure, well then let us be on our way…
As usual, I am not going to be talking about irrelevant things. There are already blogs that go into detail about the plot per episode. If I did that I would be writing pages upon pages per episode so I will just do the usual, just follow our girls and where concerned, I will mention the story. I will also mention the love rivals because I believe that was what made this so much entertaining and made that ending so satisfactory.
It’s the period of the Ceremonial Ritual of the Imperial Dragon in the whole country and this day the King is out praying to the gods for the fertility season meanwhile, all major art councils are tasked with the painting of the Dragon – the Royals’ symbol. And as such, the Council is not happy to learn that one of their members in not present for such an important event. Missing is Yun-bok’s adopted father who is also in charge of the students. It just so turns out to be the same day that the students get free reign in what they can draw to promote inspiration. This is also a yearly event if some sort.
It is during this outing that Yun-bok first meets Jeong-hyang. Though I guess meeting is the wrong word to use because they only look at each other from a distance of just over thirty meters or so. The students are out by the river being lectured about the meaning behind the day when the Gisaeng pass over the bridge close to where the students were. It is a given that the boys would look, it’s just nature.
The do what boys probably do, discuss who the best girl is, who they would pick and so on and so forth. When Yun-bok is asked who he thinks is the best looking, her eyes wander and finally they fall on the last woman in the line. She too looks down at Yun-bok like their eyes were drawn to each other. They do that thing where they slow down the camera to let you know this is an important moment and it is because they spend close to a minute on these two just staring into each other’s eyes so deeply they might as well have been mere centimetres apart.
Not that I am one to talk since I too focused a lot on this scene in my ‘All I Want’ MV.
The gawking is put to a stop when the Mistress of the Gisaeng house catches onto her girls flirting with the boys down stream. The beauty of spring passed and time returns back to normal. Once the lecture is done, Yun-bok goes to great his father with Hyung-min in tow. Okay, I am at a loss of what to refer to Yun-bok as in my posts. I guess from here on out I am going to refer to Yun-bok as a she even though other characters will think of her and a he.
When their father stall Hyung-min to tell him to take good care of Yun-bok and then he says that he will even without his father asking him of that, the first time watching this I had flags going off all over the place. Sure they are family but they are blood related and Hyung-min knew of Yun-bok’s secret. Worse still was the fact that earlier on when we first get introduced to the students, another worthy make, Yun-bok’s rival had already been introduced. Yub-bok and him had this vibe about them that had it been any other drama, those two would have been in the running as one of the couples.
Thank the Lord this was a different show altogether! But during airing I did not know that at the time and it was very painful going forward with everything pointing in the wrong direction. I tell you I am not even sure how I managed to sit through this show every other day! But I persevered and in the end, I got my favourite Korean show!
As if they were fated to fall into political trouble, later on after Yun-bok ditches Hyung-min who was so keen on following her every where (for her protection), she stumbles upon a scene that grabs her artistic eye and wastes no time in putting on paper what she sees. As for what exactly, well, there is a certain Lady who seems to have gone to meet a man in secret. They were obviously having an affair! The Lady later goes out to soak in the sun with her face beaming and she looks so happy that she catches Yun-bok’s eye.
Yun-bok draws the woman, putting in every little detail that catches her eye and when the Lady’s helper comes over and they start to leave, the Lady catches glimpse of Yun-bok. She is not at all happy to say the least. The guards come out and chase Yun-bok who tails it out of there and unknowingly, making matters even worse.
The chase goes all the way into town and Yun-bok tries but the pursuing officers are prepared.
I am sorry, I am truly sorry. I just couldn’t resist.
Anyway the chase ends up in town and at random, Yun-bok takes shelter in one of many shops around. But as we all know, when it comes to soul mates, the words random and coincidence do not exist. In her inattentiveness, Yun-bok had stepped on a cloth that the owner was working on. A voice asks Yun-bok to move her foot off the cloth. Yun-bok does so and then she look up to find the face she had seen only hours before but so close now. Even girl that she is, you could totally tell the way Yun-bok was sucked in by Jeong-hyang’s beauty.
This is Yun-bok and Jeong-hyang’s first real face to face meeting.
It was also their first time speaking which interestingly totally beat out KumiRei in the process, Yun-bok was flirting with Jeong-hyung. Their first time talking and she was using flirtatious lines about how a butterfly (herself) stumbled upon a blossoming flower having followed the scent trails. Jeong-hyang was not going to fall for something that a student cooked up having entertained hundreds of wise men in her career so she was playing the hard to get game. She calls Yun-bok a wild butterfly that simply plucks any flower. Yun-bok replies that butterflies are naturally drawn to beautiful flowers. Jeong-hyang replies that she is not a wild flower to be plucked by anyone. Yun-bok wonders out loud if there are any flowers that do not like butterflies.
As she does so, she had stood up and could see the mass of people outside the window. She spotted the guards that had been chasing her still frantically looking for Yun-bok so she ducked again. Jeong-hyang decided to have some fun with Yun-bok when she pretended to be calling the guards over to her. Needless to say Yun-bok was not very happy about that, going so far as to call Jeong-hyang not only a flower with thorns but that she also was poisonous!
Seriously these two and this scene! I know I am comparing a lot with Hibike but this is like that date episode when Reina and Kumiko were flirting with each other senseless with some weird lines. Jeong-hyang really looked like she was having fun. She had on these smiles that just hit right at home. Too bad Yun-bok was still too green, especially when it came to the matters of the heart. She couldn’t even tell how happy she had made Jeong-hyang and that Jeong-hyang was returning the favour by having fun with her.
Sure the matter at hand, why Yun-bok was being chased was a serious one but she did not know that! And speaking of which, when Yun-bok gets back to the school shit literally hits the fan when the Queen Mother’s guards come and raid all the art works drawn that day by the students. They take them back to the Queen who looks through them until she finds the one she was looking for.
That’s right; the lady that Yun-bok had stumbled upon and had drawn was the one and only Queen Mother. Not really sure how aging works in this world but the Queen Mother, as her title suggests, was the mother of the previous King, whose son is now the current King so the King calls the Queen Mother his Grand Mother. But the Queen Mother at most looks like she could be the King’s lover not Grand mother.
Anyway, when the Queen Mother finds the painting, she is not very pleased with it. She demands the King’s council to go out and find the student that drew that picture. But since the students are not allowed to label their drawings until they are professional artists, there is no way to tell who drew which picture unless the artist came out and confessed. But seeing all the chaos that has been brewed because of the painting and also finding out the consequences, well, it is no surprise that Yun-bok would not come out and admit it.
Even as the students are whipped and questioned individually, since no one knows that Yun-bok is the one that drew that picture, they can’t say who except that it was not them. It was during the questionings that Yun-bok finds out that she was in deep doodoo. The Queen was involved and was not pleased.
Meanwhile the Queen Mother’s anger is reaching boiling point. She can’t believe that they could not find a student in such a small school! She gives the council until the end of the Ceremonial ritual of the Imperial Dragon to find the culprit or else they will have to do some organisational changes around the place, and by that she meant there would be some beheading and hand-crushing!
The council begin to get restless. They think of an idea of getting a certain man to come and take care of things because of his awesome artistic skills but they do not go through with it because that man was dangerous. So dangerous he was banished to the mountains and forbidden to step foot again into civilisation. That was ten years ago.
The King, as he surveys the reports of his empire, notices that the Queen Mother has placed guards around the art school so he speaks to the Mother about it the next time they meet! The Mother does not give away the exact details but manages to let the King know of the gravity of the situation. So the King says that he had an idea and that he sent for this Tam Won person. This is the man that was banished to the mountains. Tam Won was his professional name but his real name was Kim Hong-do.
Even the Queen doesn’t seem that pleased to hear that Hong-do would be returning. It makes you wonder what the hell he did to make enemies of the whole country except the King. It seems he was close to the young King and in fact used to draw for him all the time a long time ago when the King was but a child.
Actually, I am pretty sure that if there were BL shippers in this show, they would be all over the King/Hong-do ship and would think of Yun-bok as their iceberg. There is this scene where Hong-do first goes to meet the King and I swear, even I could totally see it! The King complemented Hong-do quite a bit and they would have these eye contacts that…Actually, we don’t see the Queen, the King’s lover, at all this first episode. Does she even exist?
But sadly those two were not meant to be because the threat to Yun-bok/Jeong-hyang was real and it came in the same package labelled Hong-do. For crying out loud, they started hinting at the two even before they met! This happened up in the mountains when the officials go up to tell Hong-do that he had been summoned back by the King. He was trying to act all cool as he painted a Tiger face to face, only to be taught a lesson of not fucking with Mother Nature. He had to jump into the fall to save his sorry ass!
While underwater, he has a vision of a beautiful girl reaching her hand out to him and he reaches up. Thankfully the don’t actually show us their hands connecting but rather, his hand taking a hold of a stick that was extended to him to be pulled out of the water by his mountain friend. But this was just a bit of salt! The hot chilli peppers had yet to arrive.
They two do hold hands later on when Hong-do first makes it into town. While he is looking around, he stumbles upon an art merchant’s shop, who just so happens to be talking to Yun-bok. Turns out Yun-bok has another identity she uses to sell her drawings to the merchant illegally. The merchant tells her (Yun-bok will always be in boy-mode until stated otherwise) to take a look at the new painting from Tam Won while he takes care of the art Yun-bok had brought in for sell.
As Yun-bok reaches forward for the recommended painting, another hand reached out for it at the same time. It is Hong-do of course. As they fight over the painting, they rip it apart and since they both don’t have the amount of money the merchant says it costs, Yun-bok decides to replicate it right there and then. Hong-do looks over her shoulder as she draws and he tries to teach her some tricks but Yun-bok is not having none of that!
It was during these un-wanted lessons that the thing happened! Now sure as far as Hong-do was concerned Yun-bok was a guy and since Yun-bok did not have those stupid electric shock reactions to the touch despite being a girl, well, I guess it can be over-looked but by the gods, if seeing Hong-do wrapping his hand around Yun-bok’s and the brush was not heart jarring!! And he was so close to her he was practically breathing down her neck! And with the promotional art having these two facing one another with Hong-do presenting a flower to a female Yun-bok, well, worst meal you ever swallowed!
But this was only scratching the surface dear Readers! We are still in the first episode and yet I am already willing to lie down and cry! And it’s not even over yet!! The last scene of the episode – the very last scene, had these two in one of the most romantic positions that exist! This was at the school and on her way from the loo Yun-bok bumps into Hong-do. She still has no idea that he is Tam Won and still refers to him as a beggar. As the two argue, like they have done through all their meetings so far, a group of people come over and great Hong-do as Tam Won.
Yun-bok is so shocked that she trips on the steps! Hong-do was a few steps below and in a perfect position to catch her and of course he did! And what a position! I have to confess that in the beginning, Hong-do was my most hated character, even worse than the other guy! That position they were in and the way he was looking into her eyes and then the damn episode had to end on that note meaning that they would do the scene freeze on it!
Still, Jeong-hyang’ scenes won because in them Yun-bok was also a participant instead of the receiver. During the first sight scene on the river bed, it was Yun-bok that was first drawn to Jeong-hyang and then later in the shop, she was also the one that initiated the flirting. Whereas here with Hong-do, Yun-bok was just at the receiving end. Even in that last scene she was more surprised than anything.
Too bad we were not safe yet. There was still the problem of Hyung-min! We not only find out that these two sleep together in the same room, only inches apart from each other too, but that Hyung-min (the brother) might have some hidden feelings for Yun-bok. Now sure it might just be awkwardness due to the fact that Yun-bok was actually a girl but still! That scene I the room was all kinds of un-comfortable, for me as a yuri shipper!
But that was not all of the flags! There is still this rivalry going on between Yun-bok and dick. Seriously, any other time these two would have shippers because being that much opposite sometime means being attracted to one another. And dick is kind of hot too. Thank the Lord he doesn’t know that Yun-bok is a girl otherwise I am pretty sure that we would be in some kind of quadrilateral.
We also get introduced to the other rival on the other side of the relationship. That is Cho Pal, the travelling business man that will pose the biggest problem later on, yes more than Hong-do! It’s only episode one and one can already tell how much trouble he will be. He also has this hot bodyguard that one can’t help but gawk at. No wonder all her opponents never win! I will be coming back to him later but I just figured he needs mentioning, especially seeing as he is involved in the secret of ten years ago.
Seriously dear Readers, see what we had to put up with while watching this show? And yet there are people crying about Shuichi and Taki-sensei! It’s madness I tell you! Those two barely posed a problem. The Taki threat for example was like <0.00001% while Shuichi was about 1% with the whole series taken into consideration (minus the novels). I would love to know what the same people have to say about this show then!
Actually scratch that. I don’t want to be responsible for mass suicide because of PotW.
If you have not yet watched this show though, all I have to say is that you should stick around. This is a yuri series and despite all the pain, it is worth it, if only for the sweet truth.
It is not a spoiler actually, since the first episode shows it so I will give you a hint. You see that opening scene with Hong-do’s narration? That is part of the series’ ending! Knowing that should give you hope of where things are going, right? And the journey is even sweater, with a bit of salt but all great things are after all, eh?
Until next time…