During the 1850s, Kim Byung Moon saves young Seung Up from being beaten by a group of drifters. Seung Up draws him a picture to explain the reason for being beaten. Kim looks carefully at Seung Up’s rough yet extraordinary talent… and years later, Kim encourages Seung Up to pursue the life of a true artist and gives him a pen name, Oh Won. Seung Up meets Mae Hyang, a daughter ofa declined Yangban (nobleman) who attracts him deeply. But, they part when she runs away from the persecution of the catholic.
Seung Up leaves and wanders about in pursuit of the truth of art. Nobody can hold on to him. Only through pleasure can he eagerly stroke his paintbrush. He confirms the power of his brushstroke through his painting of a monkey with a liquor bottle in hand while mocking the world. As fame builds up, he yearns to change and stretch beyond his limits.