Shin Yoon Bok is a talented painter who disguises herself as a boy to search for her father's murderer and meets a master painter who guides her into being a great painter. Kim Hong Do is the man who teaches Yoon Bok how to paint, and they develop a strong friendship of mentor and disciple.
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I give it a 9, because overall the story, casting, directing, and rewatch value are very good.
A story about genius crossdressing painter in Joseon era, it highlights the arts, especially paintings and makes it one of the most artistic Korean drama. Not only that, the cross-dressing story also create problems to hero's journey to find love and soulmate. This drama will taught us that love is not as simple as people think. Love is complicated question.
As a sageuk, this drama delivers compelling story with enough politics but not make it as boring as in any sageuk. The characters feel and think like human being. The villains are interesting and the leads really adorable.
There's also some comic relief injected throughout the drama. But the drama itself won't be this great without outstanding performance from Moon Geun Young as Shin Yun Bok and Park Shin Yang as Kim Hong Do. As a duo, they're really amazing and adorable.
Overall, it's a very good historical drama that not focused on politics but more on the arts, especially paintings.
What was good:
- The male lead (Kim Hong Do) suprised me... he looks kind of like any old "ahjussi", but in the end he was very charismatic and he depicted the character's ambivalent feelings well.
- There are many female-pretends-to-be-a-man instances in Korean dramas that are quite ridiculous, but this time the female lead (Moon Geun Young) could be mistaken for a young boy. It brought additional realism to the series.
- The romantic story arch is very slow and mostly only hinted at. Although I love dramas bursting with romance it was refreshing to still understand the characters feelings without much even going on between them (almost none of the old drama clichés).
- It was interesting to see Korean art. The series was very similar to "Goddess of fire" in that there was much attention to detail and you actually felt that the characters were painting these pictures right before your eyes.
What was not so good:
- The female lead (Moon Geun Young) is a very good actress, but I had just watched "Goddess of fire" before watching this and I was struck by the similarities of the female characters she depicted. Of course similarities in storyline would also make you feel that, but still I felt she could've have done more with her character. Still keep in mind she is one of the better drama actors, so I have higher standards for her.
- Besides the romantic story arch I was not very interested in the story. A lot of scenes were boring (although necessary) backroom discussions among nobles trying to one-up each other. This is most likely why I didn't give the series a 9.