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Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? (1989)

Dharmaga tongjoguro kan kkadalgun (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 23 September 1989 (South Korea)
About three monks in a remote monastery; an aging master, a small orphan and a young man who left his city life to seek Enlightenment.


Yong-Kyun Bae


Yong-Kyun Bae
2 wins. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Yi Pan-Yong Yi Pan-Yong ... Hye-gok
Sin Won-Sop Sin Won-Sop ... Ki-bong
Hae-Jin Huang Hae-Jin Huang ... Hae-jin
Su-Myong Ko Su-Myong Ko ... Abbot
Byeong-hui Yun Byeong-hui Yun ... Ki-bong's mother
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Myeong-deok Choi Myeong-deok Choi
Hui-yeong Kim Hui-yeong Kim ... The Other Disciple
Eun-yeong Lee Eun-yeong Lee
Seon-hye Lee Seon-hye Lee


Three people live in a remote Buddhist monastery near Mount Chonan: Hyegok, the old master; Yong Nan, a young man who has left his extended family in the city to seek enlightenment - Hyegok calls him Kibong!; and, an orphan lad Haejin, whom Hyegok has brought to the monastery to raise as a monk. The story is mostly Yong Nan's, told in flashbacks: how he came to the monastery, his brief return to the city, his vacillation between the turbulence of the world and his hope to overcome passions and escape the idea of self. We also see Hyegok as a teacher, a protector, and a father figure, and we watch Haejin make his way as a curious and nearly self-sufficient child. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Did You Know?


In South Korea, in the heart of mountains covered with lush forests, three human beings meet: an old master of Zen Buddhism, a young monk still unsure of himself and an orphan. Around them, domineering nature and its elements: water, fire, earth, wind and light. This simple framework is enough for Bae Yong-kyun to make life feel like an inner and collective adventure. However, these three characters could also represent the three ages and phases of the life of a single human being, in his search for the essence of the self, perfect harmony and inner freedom. "Why do we need a lifetime to solve the problem of life in the world?" To answer this question, Korean Bae Yong-kyun immerses himself in his own culture, creating a universally valid parable. Radically marginal, he worked and reworked his work for eight years, assuming himself scenario, dialogues, production, sets, light, shooting, sound and editing. True Hercules and Prometheus of the film, he opposes the international cinema which, by his thirst for action, makes blind and jaded, touches of hauntingly serene phrases and images with a magical rhythm. They sharpen the mind, allow for breathtaking discoveries, raise the ear to an almost unknown philosophy and culture. See more »


[first lines]
Hyegok: Haejin! Haejin! There is no beginning and no end. Nothing is immutable, everything changes. That thing which does not come into being does not die.
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User Reviews

An amazing movie
19 September 1998 | by hragerSee all my reviews

I had the good fortune to see this movie as part of a campus movie series (UNLV) several years ago. The integration of the Ox-herding pictures from Ch'an/Zen lore into the fabric of the story was exquisite. Truly a beautiful film for Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike. I would love to own a copy of this film.

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South Korea



Release Date:

23 September 1989 (South Korea) See more »

Also Known As:

Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? See more »

Filming Locations:

South Korea

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (Original Cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono | Dolby Digital (5.1 surround)



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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