Bae Yong-kyun was born in 1951 in Tae-gu. His parents sent him to an eliteschool that was oriented rather European-occidental. He left school after a phase of depression in order to live several months as an eremite in the mountains. With his regained inner strength he finished school and went to the faculty of arts at the university in Seoul. Already in his early years he was interested in scriptwriting and filmtechnique. He acquired his entire cinematographic knowledge as an autodidact by reading books. The successful masterpiece "Why has Bodhi Dharma left for the east" is his first film.
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, 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. More