IMDb > Painted Fire (2002)
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

Painted Fire (2002) More at IMDbPro »Chihwaseon (original title)

Photos (See all 11 | slideshow) Videos
Painted Fire -- Chihwaseon(2002)


User Rating:
7.3/10   2,070 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
MOVIEmeter: ?
Up 26% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
View company contact information for Painted Fire on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
10 May 2002 (South Korea) See more »
The Life of Painter Jang Seung-up
In a time of political and social unrest in nineteenth-century Korea, an uncouth, self-taught painter explores his natural talent amidst the repressive world around him. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
3 wins & 4 nominations See more »
Yeonghwa: Korean Film Today: Hanji Review
 (From Twitch. 24 September 2011, 3:00 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
A unique, gorgeous work of art See more (18 total) »


  (in credits order)

Min-sik Choi ... Jang Seung-up
Sung-kee Ahn ... Kim Byung-Moon
Ho-jeong Yu ... Mae-hyang

Yeo-jin Kim ... Jin-jong

Ye-jin Son ... So-woon
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Jin-seo Yoon

Directed by
Kwon-taek Im 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Kwon-taek Im 
Yong-ok Kim 
Byung-sam Min 

Produced by
Woo-Suk Kang .... executive producer
Michael Kim .... executive producer
Ji-seung Lee .... associate producer
Tae-won Lee .... producer
Original Music by
Young-dong Kim 
Cinematography by
Il-sung Jung 
Film Editing by
Sun-duk Park  (as Seon-deok Park)
Art Direction by
Byung-do Joo 
Costume Design by
Ki-chul Kim 
Hye-ran Lee 
Sound Department
Choong-Hwan Lee .... sound
Visual Effects by
Jong Ik Kang .... visual effects supervisor

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Chihwaseon" - South Korea (original title)
"Strokes of Fire" - International (English title)
See more »
120 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:MA (TV rating) | Canada:G (Quebec) | France:U | Hong Kong:III | Japan:R-18 | Mexico:B15 | Singapore:R(A) | Singapore:PG (cut) | South Korea:18 | South Korea:12 (cut) | Switzerland:12 (canton of Geneva) | Switzerland:12 (canton of Vaud) | UK:15 | USA:Unrated

Did You Know?

Chosen by "Telerama" (France) as one of the 10 best pictures of 2002 (#10)See more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
7 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
A unique, gorgeous work of art, 18 May 2003
Author: moribana from Los Angeles

The fire gives all...

This is one of film's most masterful meditations on artistry. Set in 19th century Korea it tells the story of the famous painter Ohwon, but rather than stick to saucy anecdote, melodrama, or psychological egg hunting, it portrays a series of episodes throughout his life, all of which are beautiful works of art in themselves. It gives no interpretation of these episodes, but leaves them for the viewer to ponder along with the paintings of Ohwon himself. In this way, the viewer enters into the same sort of contemplation as Ohwon, and minus his talent can "feel" their way into the inspiration of his paintings.

Part of why this is so effective is the utterly masterful evocation of 19th century Korea and the musical/artistic world that Ohwon moved in. There are so many gorgeous shots of the world outside the paintings that we get a mirror effect where we see the beautiful world inspiring Ohwon, Ohwon living and looking in that world, and the works of art he creates, all mirroring off one another.

The story is told with extreme economy. A feeling evoked is hardly ever lingered with or explained, it just appears quickly then is gone for the next one to appear. As an analogy it is a sort of Mozartian work of art (endless and quick succession of great ideas) rather than Beethovinian (Obsessive lingering on one great idea). It has a classical restraint, much like Ohwon's paintings. There is really no music hinting how to feel except a few classical Korean pieces used with great effectiveness in several scenes (and mostly played by characters in the movie). One haunting image, if I remember correctly, is of a flock of birds soaring away over the blue mountains while a female singer croons

"This life is like a dream, and only death will awaken us"

One telling line of advice in the film, from one of Ohwon's teachers, is that "the painting lies between the strokes." The film follows that attitude as there is so much matter *between* what is spoken and described in the film. I have seen it twice and it was very rewarding on the second viewing. A very terse film, with little in the way of obvert explanation, one could see how it is Im's 96th film. It is an artistic masterwork. Like Ohwon's great friend and mentor tells him in describing one of his paintings, "Not a single stroke is wasted."

I compare it to Andrei Rubylev in quality, though in style it is very different. It is much easier and more directly entertaining to watch, but classical in form where Andrei is gothic.

All in all highly recommended to almost anyone except appetite junkies. Both times I left the film I felt a wonderful spiritual renewal.

One point of Ohwon's life that intruiged me was that his mad drinking and raving began suddenly after visiting the noble who told him that "Good art can come only from great knowledge and learning." The next brief scene Ohwon was very angry, and the next blasted drunk as he often remained for the remainder of the film. I am curious why the nobles words effected him so much and drove him to the drinking that dominated the rest of his life. Or was it just a coincidence?

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (18 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Painted Fire (2002)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Choi Min-Sik is phenomenal kid_eyeball
Painted fire Windwalkerz
True Story? lianne8
See more »


If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:
- - - - -
Let Joy Reign Supreme Andrei Rublev The Best of Youth Edvard Munch Fellini Satyricon
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
Show more recommendations

Related Links

Full cast and crew Company credits External reviews
News articles IMDb Biography section IMDb South Korea section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.