Of course in my saguek mania mode, I decided to add one more traditional epic onto my plate. I have always admired Moon Geun Young as a very talented young actress. Add in a little crossdressing fun like Sungkyunkwan Scandal and you have me hooked. However, instead of your youth fusion, Painter of the Wind breaks some usual drama barriers. Moon plays Yun-bok, a young genius painter who is attending the royal school for artists. She is also a girl, but was brought up as a guy by her adopted family because her father had committed a sin against the royal family. She has a unique way of painting and looking at the world. One day, she hopes to work for the palace, but in the mean time she makes side money painting lewd paintings for nobles. She especially likes painting romantic rendezvous. However, during a painting competition held by the school, she unknowingly painted the Queen dowager having a illicit affair with a mysterious man. She submitted the work anonymously, but it caught the attention of the royal court and it become a huge deal. The queen was incredibly angry and wanted the hands cut off of the person who drew her affair, but did not want to give it away that it was her. Instead, a genius, but exiled painter was called back to figure our which younger painter in the school had painted it. Said genius is a Hong-do, a middle-aged gentleman who has unique teaching methods, but is incredibly famous for his amazing paintings. He especially had the king’s favor, who is also opposed to his grandmother’s power in the royal court. Hong-do manages to figure out that is was Yun-bok who painted the illegal painting, but did not know that she was a girl or that she was the daughter of his previous mentee. He takes her under his wing due to her amazing talent. Meanwhile, Yun-bok gets to know a gisaeng who is very pretty, haughty, has very high standards. She becomes her muse while the gisaeng actually slowly falls in love with her without knowing that they are both girls. Yun-bok really adores Jung-hyang who embodies the feminine side that Yun-bok never got to explore. Luckily Hong-do manages to save Yun-bok from getting her hands chopped off, but at the sacrifice of her adopted brother who got exiled from the school instead. Yun-bok also makes it into the royal painters association due to her skill and overcomes the obstacles that are set against her by jealous colleagues. However, it came with a price as the king now wants her and Hong-do to be his spies in order to best his scheming ministers. Of course, now Yun-bok is engaged in a weird love triangle between her new mentor and the gisaeng with neither of them knowing her true gender.
In a way, this drama is breaking through some social barriers. It portrays a LGBT relationship in a sensitive manor. Jung-hyang and Yun-bok’s is intense and gorgeously filmed. For me, Moon Geun Young is one of the only female actresses who can really pull off crossdressing as a boy and making it more realistic. Most of the time, the girls are too pretty to realistically pull off being a guy. However, Moon plays her role perfectly and it makes her scenes with Moon Chae Won’s Jang Hyun all the more touching. I think they even got Best Couple award at one of the drama ceremonies. Furthermore, you have a pretty large age gap between the mentor and mentee couple. At times they seem more like father and son/daughter more than lovers. However, it is drama that portrays love that transcends social barriers. Painter of the Wind is definitely a great drama that is different than your usual love epics.