A Muse

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A Muse
A Muse 2012.jpg
Revised Romanization Eun-gyo
McCune–Reischauer Ŭn'gyo
Directed by Jung Ji-woo
Produced by Ahn Eun-mi
Lee Sang-hyun
Jung Ji-woo
Written by Jung Ji-woo
Based on Eun-gyo
by Park Bum-shin[1]
Starring Park Hae-il
Kim Go-eun
Kim Mu-yeol
Music by Yeon Ri-mok
Cinematography Kim Tae-kyung
Edited by Kim Sang-bum
Kim Jae-bum
Distributed by Lotte Entertainment
Release date
  • April 26, 2012 (2012-04-26)
Running time
129 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean
Box office $8,719,790[2]

A Muse (Hangul은교; RREun-gyo) is a 2012 South Korean film adaptation of celebrated author Park Bum-shin's novel Eun-gyo.[3] A meditation on aging, art, and loneliness, it follows a 70-year-old poet who falls in love with a high school girl and is inspired to write a short story about her. But his star student, who is jealous of the relationship, steals his literary work.[4][5][6]


Lee Jeok-yo (Park Hae-il) is a highly respected national poet in his 70s. His thirtysomething assistant Seo Ji-woo (Kim Mu-yeol) has recently published his first book, described as a genre novel with psychological insight, and it has shot to the top of the bestseller lists. Only later will it be clear how great his debt is to the poet laureate. On finding a young high school girl, Eun-gyo (Kim Go-eun), asleep on a chair on his porch, Jeok-yo is instantly enamored and rather than chastising her for breaking into his property, he subsequently agrees to give her a part-time job cleaning his home. As Jeok-yo spends more time in Eun-gyo's company, long-lost feelings are awakened within him, and her exuberance, lust for life, sense of fun and genuine warmth towards him quickly strip the years away in his mind: he increasingly sees himself as the young man he used to be—his love and need for her growing not only because he finds her incredibly beautiful but also as a direct result of how she makes him feel. Deeply smitten, Jeok-yo begins to write a short story about his imagined sexual relationship with the effervescent young woman. However, as the two get ever closer, Ji-woo finds it impossible to hold back from vocalizing his opposition to what he deems to be an inappropriate and wholly repugnant relationship and, on finding Jeok-yo's manuscript, his abhorrence (and jealousy of both Jeok-yo and Eun-gyo's relationship and the beauty of Jeok-yo's writing) boils over and he decides to steal the short story to publish under his own name.[7][8][9][10][11][12]



The novel, which revolves around a relationship between a poet in his 70s and a 17-year-old high school girl, had sparked heated debate as soon as it began to appear in serialized form on author Park Bum-shin's personal blog.[13][14]

Park said, "I've never been this excited for a film adaptation of my work. I'm thrilled because this novel is based on my own personal thoughts as I grew older. It's a very special piece of mine, and I trusted director Jung's caliber of delving into human psychology and desire." Park visited the film crew twice during the production of the movie, and presented autographed copies of his novel to the leading actors and actresses.[8]

Director Jung Ji-woo said he chose Park Hae-il for the role, instead of an older actor, for a specific reason, saying, "This movie deals with what it is like to age, and what it is like to want something when you've lost your youth. I thought that the theme would be delivered more effectively when such a role is given to an actor who is much younger."[8]

Before shooting, Park visited Pagoda Park to observe elderly men, and went through hours of discussion with the director to perfect his character. Jung praised Park's "incredible tolerance," undergoing eight hours of special make-up daily and learning the weary gait and gesture of a man in his 70s.[8][15]

Kim Go-eun was a drama major at Korea National University of Arts who had never appeared in a film or TV series before, not even in a minor role, having only previously acted in student productions or school plays. She met Jung in 2011 through a circle of friends and was not even aware that auditions for the film were being held. "I ended up having an audition after chatting with the director. There wasn't even any time for me to prepare," Kim recalled. She was chosen among some 300 actresses who auditioned to play the role of innocent yet sensual Eun-gyo.[13] Looking for an actress that "had to be ordinary and alive at the same time," Jung said he decided on Kim "by discussing the book and her personal thoughts about Eun-gyo [...] What I liked about Go-eun was that she didn't try to impress me at all. She didn't try to please anybody. She didn't try to look pretty in front of the camera. She was just herself. That's what drew me to her." He flatteringly said she was similar to his previous Happy End leading lady, acclaimed actress Jeon Do-yeon.[16] Novelist Park Bum-shin agreed that she was right for the role upon meeting her, saying, "She was perfect for the forever virgin and forever young image that Eun-gyo symbolizes."[17] Kim said of her film debut, "It took a lot of courage to play this role. [...] I don't think physical beauty alone could have unleashed so much passion in a man who had lived for over 70 years with a heart of a stone. Eun-gyo is very spontaneous and is too innocent to have thought about the consequences of what she is doing, but she also has a mature side. She lacks parental care and love, so she desires this from a surrogate father figure, and becomes obsessed with the idea."[8][13][18] Co-star Park Hae-il described her as "fresh, dreamy and attractive. Kim Go-eun is Eun-gyo."[17]

The last line of the character, who is also a victim of domestic violence, was written by Jung, and does not exist in the novel. "I never knew how pretty I was (until I met you)," Eun-gyo tells the poet. Jung said, "It’s really about a young girl's journey learning about herself and her own worth. I wanted to capture the moments when she realizes how precious she is to herself and to others."[16]


Upon its release the film attracted some controversy for its depiction of sex between a 70-year-old man and a high school-aged girl.[19]

The film opened on April 25, 2012 and notched 630,000 admissions in its first week. Overall, the film has sold 1,343,916 tickets.[20][21]

Awards and nominations[edit]

2012 Buil Film Awards

  • Best Film
  • Best New Actress - Kim Go-eun
  • Nomination - Best Supporting Actor - Kim Mu-yeol
  • Nomination - Best Music - Yeon Ri-mok

2012 Grand Bell Awards

2012 Korean Association of Film Critics Awards

2012 Blue Dragon Film Awards

  • Best New Actress - Kim Go-eun
  • Best Cinematography - Kim Tae-kyung
  • Best Lighting - Hong Seung-chul
  • Nomination - Best Art Direction - Kim Si-yong
  • Nomination - Technical Award - Song Jong-hee

2012 Busan Film Critics Awards

2013 KOFRA Film Awards (Korea Film Reporters Association)

2013 Baeksang Arts Awards

2013 New York Asian Film Festival


  1. ^ "Eun-gyo". Han Books. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
  2. ^ "Eunkyo (2012)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-11-02.
  3. ^ Chung, Kang-hyun (16 April 2012). "Returning home, Park Bum-shin looks for himself". Korea Joongang Daily. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  4. ^ Shackleton, Liz (9 February 2012). "Lotte goes back to school with Happy End director Jung". Screen International. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  5. ^ "Lotte announces new JUNG Ji-woo film". Korean Film Biz Zone. 10 February 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  6. ^ Oh, Mi-jung (26 April 2012). "Preview: Eun Gyo (A Muse): A Story of Love and People". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  7. ^ Quinn, Paul. "Eungyo". Hangul Celluloid. Retrieved 2012-12-01. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Lee, Claire (27 March 2012). "Park Hae-il back on the big screen as poet". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  9. ^ "Eun Gyo teaser released". StarN News. 22 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  10. ^ Oh, Seol-Hye (7 April 2012). "Eun Gyo Official trailer released". StarN News. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  11. ^ "A Muse (2012)". The Chosun Ilbo. 27 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  12. ^ Wheeler, C.J. (11 August 2012). "Scandalous Desires & Social Taboos in Jeong Ji-woo's A Muse". Hancinema. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  13. ^ a b c "Unknown Starlet Gets Big Break as Korean Lolita". The Chosun Ilbo. 21 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  14. ^ Eom, Eul-soon (22 June 2012). "Aging is not a punishment". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  15. ^ "Eun Gyo Park Hae-il goes through a shocking transformation". StarN News. 17 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  16. ^ a b Lee, Claire (2 May 2012). "Jung Ji-woo talks on his new film, new muse". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  17. ^ a b "A Muse Kim Go-eun takes off the veil". Star News via Hancinema. 25 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  18. ^ "Eun-Gyo heroine Kim Ko-eun's big smile". Asia Today. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  19. ^ "Korean Movies Get Racier to Fend off Hollywood". The Chosun Ilbo. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  20. ^ Paquet, Darcy (30 May 2012). "Box office, April 1-30". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  21. ^ Wheeler, CJ (11 August 2012). "HanCinema's Film Review: Scandalous Desires & Social Taboos in Jeong Ji-woo's A Muse". Hancinema. Retrieved 2013-02-10.

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