Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004)

Genre: Action, Drama, War














In the end of 2003 Silmido, a movie about South and North relationships, shook the South Korean box office, but not giving it even a few month of rest, another bomb was dropped upon South Korean viewers in early 2004, Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo), similarly themed film, directed by Je-kyu Kang of his Shiri fame, that beat all the prior set records. One third of South Korea population attended cinema to watch this film according to number of admissions.

It's 1950, two brothers, Jin-seok Lee (Bin Won) and eldest Jin-tae Lee (Dong-gun Jang) are spending ordinary time in streets of Seoul, living together with their mother and fiance of Jin-tae - Young-shin Kim (Eun-ju Lee). Peaceful life ends when North invades, and family is forced to leave their homes. Due to some unlucky circumstances both brothers found themselves on a train that's heading towards the battlefield. Cruel realities of war now become part of them.

Revisiting events set almost exactly 50 years in past, director managed to grab attention of Korean public with this epic war drama. Often called Korean Saving Private Ryan, and not without a reason, they both share that gruesome depiction of war, cruelty served by both sides and magnitude in which the scale of the war is portrayed, be it special effects or actor performances. Even the visual styles of the movie are really similar.
But most importantly they share similar, personal stories of the people involved. Comparable even in the way it is presented in the movie, starting with nowadays, showing survivors who share their memories and tell their stories, followed by dive in the past, where these memories are being replayed.

Films original Korean titles contains the names of flags of both neighboring countries, as a symbolic gesture towards their once shared unity.

Its should be mentioned that this movie is one of the final works of beautiful and talented actress Eun-ju Lee, who sadly committed suicide year after this film was released.

Overall, a powerful and emotionally lasting war drama. Highly recommended.

Blu-ray | DVD from Amazon
DVD from YesAsia

Joint Security Area (2000)

Genre: Drama, Thriller, War














Before Vengeance trilogy for director Chan-wook Park, there was Joint Security Area (Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA), a movie that skyrocketed his career, and since then he has become one of the most accomplished and critically acclaimed directors in South Korea. Not to forget the cast of the movie, lead actors Byung-hun Lee and Kang-ho Song, while both had rich previous experience in acting, but nothing come close to success of Joint Security Area, which gained huge recognition and immediate status of superstars for them, guaranteeing successful career for next decade.


On border between South and North Korea's, known as Korean Demilitarized Zone, two North Korean border guards get shot. Sgt. Lee Soo-hyeok (Byung-hun Lee) is considered to be guilty in causing this event. Both countries give their own narrative of what happened, South states that he was abducted and killed his abductors while attempting to escape, while North says that he made a deliberate attack on their soldiers. To find the truth,  investigation by Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission is launched to discover what did occur during that fatal night.

A masterpiece thriller from Chan-wook Park that touches sensitive relationships between both, once united, countries. Forbidden friendship, political plots and secrets from the past come into play. Suspenseful story of separation by senseless ideology, ideology that hides actual human beings so deep underneath.

One of the best movies that had come out of Korea in my opinion. Recommended to everyone.

DVD from Amazon.
DVD from YesAsia.

Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005)

Genre: War, Drama, Comedy














Welcome to Dongmakgol (Welkkeom tu Dongmakgol ) is another great debut from new generation of Korean directors. It went to be 4th highest grossing South Korean movie of all time, and was official entry for best foreign language movie of 2005 Academy Awards. So far it's directors Kwang-Hyun Park only movie, currently his new project is in casting stage, and is something to keep an eye for.


Movies is set during Korean War of 1950. Soldiers from both sides of once united country and American plane pilot find themselves in a strange village among the mountains, whose inhabitants live hermit lifestyle unaware of what is happening in world around them. They get involved in villages life with help of a really odd girl who lives there. Soon however leisure time ends, and dangers of war are approaching this haven of peace.

It's comical and tragic story, showing how senseless the war is. How easy it is for friends to become enemies, and enemies become friends.

Great cast, beautiful cinematography and touching story. A must see.

DVD from Amazon.
OST from YesAsia.