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At the height of the 16th-century Chosun Dynasty, a pair of rural male actors—boisterous, macho Jang-seng and quiet, feminine Gong-gil—travel to Seoul and team up with a struggling acting troupe. When their irreverent show—complete with enough bawdy humor and gender-bending to make a contemporary audience blush—mocks the famously hedonistic king, they get more than they bargained for. 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’s mistress, the country’s ministers and Jang-seng soon grow suspicious, and jealousy and anger spring from all sides.
- "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).
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