Amnok River Flows (압록강은 흐른다)

Also Known As: Amnok River Flows / Yalu River Flows
German title: Der Yalu fliesst
Subtitle: English (.srt)
Year: 2008
Genre: Period, Biographical
Broadcast network: SBS
Broadcast date: 2008-Nov-14
Air time: Friday 20:50
Episodes: 3


They called him “Mireuk,” Korean for Maitreya, the future incarnation of Buddha, born to save us all from oblivion. In the Later Three Kingdoms period, that was the moniker attached to Gung Ye, one of the biggest names to eventually pave the way (at his expenses) for the birth of Goryeo. But I guess Lee Mi-Reuk’s (or, if you prefer the slightly sinicized version of his name, Li Mirok) parents didn’t have such grandiose plans when they gave him that name. Born into a family of noble literati, Lee witnessed the disintegration of that Joseon (and the following Korean Empire) which had held strong for five centuries, finally collapsing in the name of Japanese imperialism. Unable to find his voice in the increasingly changing colonial Korea of the 1920s, young Li crossed the famous river dividing the Korean peninsula from Manchuria, the Amnok (Yalu, as they spell it on the other side), and set sail for what he considered the promised land, Europe.

What he found wasn’t exactly a paradise, considering his new home away from home was the same Germany which would soon begin the path to the Großdeutsches Reich, better known as the Third Reich, with the infamous Fuhrer Adolf Hitler on top. But what Li Mirok managed to do was impressive: his memoirs Der Yalu Fließt, where he narrated stories of his childhood and all the peaceful atmosphere which painted his early days, was one the biggest literary shock in Germany at the time, enough that parts of the novel were added to German textbooks, giving him a place in the pages of history.

The first co-production between Korea and Germany, made to celebrate the 125th year of diplomatic relations between the two countries, 압록강은 흐른다 (Der Yalu Fließt) is not only a very faithful adaptation of the original (the first episode is more or less the novel’s content, while the remaining two talk about the rest of Li’s life in Germany), but also a throwback to the great period dramas of the early to mid 90s, like 카레이스키 (Kareisky) and 여명의 눈동자 (Eyes of Dawn). Its slow paced and poetic prose might feel out of place in today’s K-drama industry, so preoccupied with shallow glitz and glamour, but it’s with substance and narrative fundamentals that this drama succeed on almost all accounts, as one of the best overlooked gems of the year.


Jung Yoon Seok/No Min Woo/Choi Sung Ho/Woo Byeok Song as Mirok Li
Na Moon Hee as Mirok’s Mother
Shin Gu as Mirok’s Father
Kim Yeo Jin as Choi Mun Ho
Jung Woon Taek as Won Shik
Lee Cham as Seyler
Roland Pfaus as Kurt Huber
Ute Kampowsky as Eva
Hwang Bo Ra as Guwol
Han Bo Bae as Mudeon

Credit : MyAsianCinema


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