Nothing is more symbolic of the division of Korea into two countries as the 'Bridge of No Return' in Panmunjom, the demilitarized zone on the border between the two states. One day, a border guard is killed by a rifle bullet; the suspected marksman is a South Korean soldier, who is found wounded in the middle of no-man's-land. This incident will have grave repercussions. Both North and South Korea regard the incident as an act of deliberate provocation. The North accuses the South of having committed a 'terrorist attack', whilst South Korea suspects the North of having attempted an 'abduction'. Both sides appeal to the authorities of the neutral states (NNSC)for help and ask them to investigate the affair.
A female Swiss army captain of Korean descent is then sent to Panmunjom to investigate the death of the North Korean border guard, apparently shot in the line of duty by a South Korean guard. At first, neither army officers from the South nor communist officials from the North will cooperate - until it is obvious to all that the truth must come out to defuse a potentially explosive international incident.
Cast & Credits
This is a wonderfully crafted masterpiece that evokes the strongest emotions in a person's heart. The movie is set in the DMZ of two Koreas and portrays how different people can set asides their differences and be able to see each other in the purest form, that we are the same, brothers and sisters.
I found myself on a roller coaster ride of emotions, laughing one minute, in with tears in another. All the actors and actress have done a superb job in this one. The most emotionally powerful scene was the last scene. Only a photograph but conveys so much meaning and emotions.
Definitely a must watch movie, no matter where you're from, you will be enchanted and inspired by this movie's magic, and understand a bit more about what it means to be a person.
Did I mention The master Park Chan Wook who later directed the infamous "Vengeance series" one of which - Old boy went on to win the Grand-prize of Jury at the Cannes, directed this one?
About the geopolitical aspect of the story, it is certainly an optimistic and dramatized take on what really goes on at the JSA, a reflection of Korean sentiment at the time of its making. It raises the question of whether the mutual distrust of almost 60 years can be overcome, and this is painfully highlighted in the climax of the movie. The introduction of the background to Lee Young Ae's character felt like a last minute addition to the story and didn't add anything of significance to the story for me, though it may be of significance in the history of the Korean War.
Song Kang Ho gives a very controlled performance, and I've enjoyed many of his subsequent movies. Lee Young Ae plays a non-resident Korean and so uses English heavily during the show, which, being a non-native language, does make her delivery awkward and affects her portrayal during those chunks of dialogue. However, she still does a better job than the English you hear from Korean actors in many contemporary Korean dramas, so it's hard to fault the movie for that. Lee Byung Hun's character's story and the gravitas of his character is certainly handed to him on a silver platter and he does a good job of it.
Overall, a movie worthy of its place in the history of Korean film.