Shin Yun-bok

This is a Korean name; the family name is Shin.
"Hyewon" redirects here. For the name (and a list of people with the name), see Hye-won.
Shin Yun-bok
Korean name
Hangul 신윤복
Hanja 申潤福
Revised Romanization Sin Yun-bok
McCune–Reischauer Sin Yunbok
Pen name
Hangul 혜원
Hanja 蕙園
Revised Romanization Hye-won
McCune–Reischauer Hyewŏn
Courtesy name
Hangul 입부
Hanja 笠父
Revised Romanization Ip-bu
McCune–Reischauer Ippu
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shin Yun-bok.

Shin Yun-bok, better known by his pen name Hyewon (1758–1813), was a Korean painter of the Joseon Dynasty. Like his contemporaries Danwon and Geungjae, he is known for his realistic depictions of daily life in his time. His genre paintings are distinctly more erotic than Danwon's, a fact which contributed to his expulsion from the royal painting institute, Dohwaseo.[1] Painting was frequently a hereditary occupation in the Joseon period, and Hyewon's father and grandfather had both been court painters. Together with Danwon and the later painter Owon, Hyewon is remembered today as one of the "Three Wons" of Joseon-period painting.[2]


Not much is known about Shin Yun-bok's life. He was the son of royal court painter Hanpyeong (한평; 漢枰), who had participated in painting the royal portraits of Yeongjo and Jeongjo.[3] Hyewon reached the official rank of cheomjeoljesa (첨절제사; 僉節制使) at the Dohwaseo and was adept at different styles of painting; genre, landscape, and animals.[4] It is speculated that he left a great number of paintings due to the popularity of genre paintings during that era.[5]

There are different studies and theories regarding his life, that he may not have ever been a member of the Dohwaseo nor was he on close terms with Kim Hong-do.[6]

Style and legacy

Shin Yun-bok, despite being greatly influenced and overshadowed by Kim Hong-do during his career, developed his own unique technique and artistry.[7] Along with Kim Hong-Do, he is known foremost for his genre paintings of the Joseon era.[8] Whereas Kim depicted everyday life of peasants with a humorous touch, Shin showed glimpses of eroticism in his paintings of townspeople and gisaeng.[9] His choice of characters, composition, and painting method differed from Kim's, with use of bright colors and delicate paint strokes. He also painted scenes of shamanism and townlife, offering insight to lifestyle and costumes of the late Joseon era.[4][7]

His ink landscape paintings used clear light strokes in a method similar to that of Yun Je-hong (윤제홍), the pioneer in new style painting of the late Joseon era. He is also known to not have used the traditional method of leaving empty space in his paintings, usually filling the whole canvas.[10] Although he placed short verse and his seal on most of his paintings, none indicate the date nor time of their creation and it is difficult to define the progression of his painting style. As one of the pillars of genre painting in the Joseon era, he influenced many other painters afterwards.[7][11]

His album, Hyewon Pungsokhwacheop, contains 30 of his paintings and was designated the 135th National Treasure of South Korea in 1970.[10]

Famous paintings

Six paintings from the Yeosokdo Album (여속도첩):

Four paintings from the Pungsokdo Album. See Hyewon pungsokdo for a complete gallery of this album (30 paintings).

Fictional portrayals

In the novel Painter of the Wind by Lee Jung-myung, Hyewon is portrayed as a woman disguised as a man.[14] In 2008, the novel was adapted into a drama series of the same name starring Moon Geun-young, as well as the film Portrait of a Beauty starring Kim Min-sun.[15]

See also


  1. Choi Yongbeom (최용범), Reading Korean history in one night (하룻밤에 읽는 한국사) p299, Paper Road, Seoul, 2007. ISBN 89-958266-3-0.
  2. (Korean) Shin Yun-bok at Daum Culture Dictionary
  3. Lee Younghwa (이영화), Joseon era, Joseon people (조선시대, 조선사람들) p102, Garam Publishing, Seoul, 1998. ISBN 89-85466-02-X
  4. 1 2 (Korean) Shin Yun-bok at Encyclopedia of Korean Culture
  5. (Korean) Shin Yun-bok at Doosan Encyclopedia
  6. (Korean) 3 mysteries of Shin Yun-bok, Maekyung, 2008-10-22. Retrieved 2010-07-07.
  7. 1 2 3 (Korean) Shin Yun-bok at The Academy of Korean Studies
  8. Pratt 1999, pp. 421–422
  9. 1 2 Turner 2003, p. (28)782
  10. 1 2 (Korean) Hyewon pungsokdo at Doosan Encyclopedia
  11. (Korean) Shin Yun-bok at Britannica Korea
  12. (Korean) Portrait of a beauty at Doosan Encyclopedia
  13. (Korean) Scene of Dano at Doosan Encyclopedia
  14. Lee Jeong-myeong (이정명), Painter of the Wind Vol. 1 & 2, Million House, Seoul, 2007. ISBN 978-89-91643-26-0 & ISBN 978-89-91643-27-7.
  15. (English) Mysterious Artist Resurfaces on Modern Culture Scene, Korea Times, 2008-10-09. Retrieved 2010-07-07.


  • Pratt, Keith L.; Rutt, Richard; Hoare, James E. (1999). Korea, A Historical and Cultural Dictionary. Durham East Asia Series. Routledge. p. 568. ISBN 978-0-7007-0463-7. 
  • Turner, Jane (2003). Grove Dictionary of Art. Oxford University Press, US. p. 32600. ISBN 978-0-1951-7068-9. 
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