Rent The Harmonium in My Memory (2000)

3.7 of 5 from 55 ratings
2h 0min
Rent The Harmonium in My Memory (aka Nae maeumui punggeum) Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Set in the beautiful Kang Won province, the year is 1963 and an uncomplicated time in post-war Korea. Newly qualified teacher Kang Soo-ha (Lee Byeong-heon) takes his very first class in the small village school and approaches his new job with verve and sincerity. Yun Hong-yeon (Jeon Do-yeon) is in the 6th grade but at 17, she is much older than her fellow classmates. Kang's effervescent teaching methods soon inspire Hong-yeon to learn however, she also develops a heart wrenching crush on her new teacher. All the while, sophisticated teacher Miss Yang (Lee Mi-yeon) unwittingly steals the heart of Kang who is in turn, oblivious to the attentions of his student.
Impressive and award winning performances in this touching tale of innocent love.
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Young-jae Lee
Young-jae Lee
Nae maeumui punggeum
Tai Seng
Drama, Romance
New waves of Korean Cinema, Top 10 Films By Year, Top 10 Films of 1999, What to watch by country
Release Date:
Run Time:
120 minutes
Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0, Korean Dolby Digital 2.0, Korean Dolby Digital 5.1
Chinese, English
DVD Regions:
Region 2
  • Directors commentary
  • Making of
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Interviews
  • Cast and crew filmographies
  • Trailers

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Reviews (1) of The Harmonium in My Memory

It Could Have Be Worse - He Might Have Loved Playing the Spoons.... - The Harmonium in My Memory review by Strovey

Spoiler Alert

It would be fair to say that The Harmonium in My Memory is a slight and quaint film made at the turn of the century in Korea. The main actors went on from this film to feature in more well-known and even acclaimed films as their careers evolved but this story is certainly nothing to be ashamed of in their CV.

As un-Hollywood as possible despite the story being remarkably familiar to our Western tastes. Here, first-time director Young-jae Lee, is clearly making a film as much about simple rural life in Korea as he is a romantic story. It would be true to say the romantic side of the tale is quite simple, although playing out in a less than conventional manner, nobody is bad or does anything in bad faith and they do have reasonable motivations for their actions that make sense with the scope of the story. If we are honest you cannot always say that.

Therein lies the rub of course, due to this some might say the story is slight, misses something and is even boring. Like life in fact.

The film does show infatuation and the effect it has on the infatuated, particularly on a ‘responsible’ adult counterpointed with a younger more naïve person.

The maker just about gets past bad taste with the difficult storyline of a schoolgirl being ‘in love’ with her teacher. Luckily Mr. Kang is both responsible in his role and seemingly somewhat blind to Hong-yun’s ‘love’. Unpleasant feelings avoided.

If you have to lay criticism at the feet of a first-time director, which might seem churlish and unkind, it would be that Lee’s focus on his story wanders perhaps too much. He bookends the story with the older Hong-yun reminiscing and that memory is what we see. Unfortunately, this seems a little unfocussed as we zip between Mr. Yang and Hong-yun whereas perhaps a little more on the complex infatuation and the naïve longings of the schoolgirl might have given the film a more lean, distinctive feel.

At two hours long some of the set pieces seemed placed in the runtime for the sake of it, almost non-sequential and not really driving anything forward, although interesting for non-Asian eyes to see. Trimming and editing would probably make The Harmonium in My Memory go from good to must-see.

All in all, an interesting romantic tale from the Korean film industry that is well-acted, gives an insight to mid-twentieth-century life in a rural outpost in Korea.

Patience may be required but worth at least one viewing.

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