Blue Swallow (2005)

mp’s rating: 4/5

I hate it when Korean movies captured my eyes and forced me to watch more sad stories. But it was that good. (note: spoiler alert ahead)

Blue Swallow (2005) is a true story of a Korean female pilot, Park Kyung-Won, who dreamed of flying since she was eleven years old. South Korea was under the regime of Japan at that time, and she went to Japan to pursue her dreams. She worked hard, being a taxi driver, repairing cars, just to get the fund for her flying school. She met a guy, Han Ji-Hyuk, by being his taxi driver one night, who in the end became her lover, yet it ended in a tragic way.

Commenting on the general view of the movie, for me it doesn’t look like a Korean one. Most Korean movies that I watch are chick-flicks, the ones like My Sassy Girl, Seducing Mr. Perfect, or even old Korean dramas that have lots of humours and boy-girl relationships. This one looks like a Chinese movie that tells the story of honour, love, and endurance.

Actresses and actors are great – outstanding acting, and good-looking ones as well. Cinematography was impeccable, it is way much more than I expected. A combination of black and white footage that commemorated the history, with slow-motion pictures that is well-played to emphasis the drama. In one word, it’s that good.

In terms of the plot, I feel like watching the movie Amelia (2009), which tells the story of the first female pilot ever, Amelia Earhart, but in the Asian version. Nonetheless, this is way much better than the movie Amelia, just because it provides more context and drama. I’d say, good job indeed.

However, this movie has brought a lot of controversies, as some critics say that it’s bending the true story of Park Kyung-Won. I have no idea about the history, nor that I am really interested in knowing the real truth (because no matter how hard you try, there will always be someone protesting against it). But based on a true story or not, it’s definitely a heart-breaking one.

After going to Japan to pursue her dream, Park Kyung-Won dreamed of flying long-distance – to fly back to Korea, her hometown. Yet, her lover, Han Ji-Hyuk, was accused of being a Korean agent in Japan, and both of them were separated, and then beaten by the Japanese army. Knowing that the only way for Kyung-Won to be released was to confess, Ji-Hyuk said that he was indeed a Korean agent, despite the truth that he was not. Ji-Hyeuk got executed, and in desperation, Kyung-Won flew long-distance to Korea carrying Ji-Hyuk’s ashes, and met her fate.

Over two hours, I laughed, cried, got angry, and felt the pain of Park Kyung-Won. Telling the story of love, friendship, dreams, politics, enemies, death, and life – Blue Swallow is definitely one of my top list of Asian drama movies which I will watch again and again in the future.

Before his death, Han Ji-Hyuk wrote one last letter to his lover.

“How much time do i have left? By every means I tried my best to transcend everything. But I couldn’t help being afraid from time to time. I guess there won’t be many people to remember a carefree guy like me, even if I die here, right? That’s why I must’ve loved you since you’ve cherished every second. Because you have something which I don’t have in my life. Now you’ll cross the East sea, then the Pacific, then the Atlantic. Then you’ll fly to the end of the world. No matter what, you’ll be remembered by many people forever. And I also will be so proud of you. Although I won’t be able to see you fly high across Korea, i hope  you can carry my ashes to Korea with your very hands. Because I want to be with you. I hope nothing turns out empty. and I will pray for you until the very last moment.
I love you Park Kyung-Won.”

A heart-breaking story of reaching your dreams despite all odds, with not quite a fairy-tale ending.

“It rained all night. And I prayed for the rain to please stop, and to let me fly to my home in the morning. I fell asleep at dawn. I dreamed of being alone in the dessert. Segi, Jung-hee, Ji-hyuk. Where has everyone gone? I miss everyone so much. But I guess I finally have to leave alone like this. To the world that I saw for the first time, when I was eleven.”

“The happiest and sweetest moment is flying in the skies.”
Park Kyung-Won (1901 – 1933)


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