I have seen this movie first in UP Film Center and it became one of my instant favorite movies. Since then, I had pored over many DVD shops to acquire a copy of this movie. Finally my great brother tracked one copy of this in UP Shopping Center and once again I watched this movie at the comfort of my home.
Joint Security Area
Joint security area or JSA is the area at the both sides of the boundary of the two Koreas. The North Koreans guards the northern part of the JSA while the South Koreans have the jurisdiction over the southern portion. All in all, the JSA is being administered by the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission.
This is the setting of the movie. JSA is a high-tension area where the opposing North Koreans and South Koreans are seeing each other face to face.
This movie is about the friendship (or some will say as fraternizing with the enemy) of four soldiers stationed in the JSA and the subsequent tragedy that ended their happy moments. South Korean soldiers Sgt. Lee Soo-hyeok (Byung-hun Lee of the Koreanovela "Stairway to Heaven") and Sgt. Oh Kyeong-pil became friends with North Korean soldiers Nam Sung-shik and Jeong Woo-jin. The two SoKor soldiers leave their post every night to visit their NoKor friends. They spend their happy moments by sharing stories, drinking, playing cards and any other antics to while away their duty time.
Tragedy started when a NoKor official discovered their friendship, which started a confusion that left the official dead and one of their NoKor friend. Fighting between the NoKor and SoKor troops ensued.
To protect one another, the SoKor soldiers lied that Soo-hyeok was kidnapped by the NoKor soldiers. Kyeong-pil rescued Soo-hyeok, leaving the two North Koreans dead. Sung-shik, on the other hand, says that the two SoKor soldiers attacked their post during that night.
Maj. Sophie E. Jean (Yeong-ae Lee of "Jang Geum") of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission was sent to untangle the mystery of the incident. She found out the truth and the forbidden friendship between the four soldiers. To protect the survivors, Maj. Jean decided not to submit the true story. In the end, Soo-hyeok killed himself.
What attracted me initially to this movie is the fact that I saw the two famous Koreanovela stars to act in the big screen. And I was awed. Yeong-ae Lee and Byung-hun Lee are excellent artists. They portrayed their roles well. Tae-woo Kim (Sung-shik) is also excellent and one of the jewels of the movie.
The cinematography, which is evident in various Koreanovelas, is present in this movie. The placing of elements in a scene is what I admire in most of their works.
I like the scenes where the four soldiers play and exchange stories upon stories regarding the war and their animosity with one another.
The scene when Soo-hyeok stepped on a mine and cried in front of the two NoKor soldiers is very funny as well as other scenes like the when Soo-hyeok and Woo-jin spat each other playfully during their morning duty.
All in all, I am giving this movie a thumbs up. Nice plot and all the wonderful elements of the Korean films had to offer is present and very nice to watch.