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Art of Asia

Course: Art of Asia > Unit 3

Lesson 7: Joseon dynasty (1392–1897)

Nine Cloud Dream

This video re-tells a popular Korean folktale using a Korean folding screen from the collection of the Asian Art Museum. Learn more about Asian art and culture at education.asianart.org.

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Video transcript

the young monks song jen is meditating in his small cell in a Buddhist monastery on lotus Peak Mountain he dozes off and dreams he is on a journey on his way back he comes to a narrow bridge which is blocked by eight beautiful maidens enjoying the spring day they tease the young monk sungjun explains to them that as a poor monk he has nothing to offer he then has an idea he plucks off a peach blossom branch and tosses it down the eight blossoms fall off and turn into lustrous pearls the maidens are delighted with the pearls and let him pass in the second screen sangjun has been reborn as so you of the young family so you hear is that the government is holding a civil service examination accompanied by his servant he sets out on a long journey to the capital where the exams will be held he arrives in a town not far from liu yun stopping to enjoy the beautiful scenery he arrives at a secluded place where a two-story pavilion stands by willow trees a beautiful woman pushes back the embroidered curtain leaning on the balustrade her eyes meet saw use and they fall in love so you then arrives in law young and wanders to an inn where an elegant poetry gathering is taking place he mingles with the sophisticated young men who boast hello young always takes first and second place in the national examinations they have asked a famous courtesan named moonlight known to be an excellent judge of poetry and famous for her beauty to be the judge she will choose the best poem and recited to them pointing out its strengths and weaknesses to make the competition even more exciting the winner will get to spend the night with her so you dashes off a poem and submits it to the competition moonlight chooses so use poem as a first prize winner entitling him to spend the night with her in this scene she welcomes him to her country home surrounded by flowering cherry trees and a beautiful waterfall the presence of books in moonlights home reflects the education she received as a courtesan so you arrives in elegant attire accompanied by his servant with a parasol in this scene the emperor has appointed saw you as his commander-in-chief and gives him 30,000 men from the Imperial garrison to expel an invading army from the northwest so you camps below the mountains in preparation for the battle that night as his personal guards sleep with their shields and Spears saw you sits in his tent reading military textbooks a young assassin with a long dyer suddenly descends from the air and appears in his tent her name is wreath of mist she's been sent by the enemy to bring back his head saw you persuades her to switch sides and help him win the battle later on having served the Emperor loyally and civil and military matters so you is rewarded with a magnificent estate with many buildings in a large Park elegant cranes symbols of longevity stroll about the grounds SOI use mother joins his extended family she lives in her own residence on her son's estate many attendants look after her needs a musician plays the kaya ghum a 12 stringed instrument soy yo excels not only in his public duties but also proves to be an example of filial piety here so you and Prince will long hold a picnic for entertainment the women in their entourage compete with one another in dance and music a sword dancer swirls her double swords in step with a tune provided by musicians playing a mouth organ and a stringed instrument called the Vela in the foreground a woman on horseback shows her skill in archery she turns backward aiming her arrow at a pheasant in the eighth and final screen saw you has grown old and retired from his official position one day he takes his family to his favorite open-air pavilion to enjoy the brilliant colors of autumn and the Setting Sun he thinks about his life and all the pleasures honors and wealth that have been bestowed upon him he wonders what is life all about he tells his family that since his retirement he has dreamt every night that he is bowing before the Buddha at that moment he sees an old monk ascending the steps of the pavilion as the old monk strikes the balustrade with his staff two or three times everything disappears seong-jin then wakes up and realizes he is still the young monk seated on a prayer mat in his small cell at a Buddhist monastery on Lotus Peak Mountain you