In 1979, after the assassination of President Park Chung-hee, Han Ki-ju is paid to write about his experiences in the Vietnam War. He is reluctant at first, but a reunion with mentally scarred Army buddy Pyon Chin-su brings back the haunting memories of war. Based on the critically-acclaimed novel by veteran Ahn Jung-hyo, "White Badge" is a harsh condemnation of war, treatment of veterans, and the pervasive American influence in South Korea.
Cast & Credits
The protagonist, Han Ki-ju, is, in lack for better words, an empty shell. Well, he definetly lost more than he gained; during the war, his wife left him for another man and he's barely able to see his son before the two of them leave for America with the new husband. After the war, he had picked a career as writer, and suddenly decided to write a novel about his experience in Vietnam. Except it brings back all the memories of said war back, and, as he himself phrased it, "he wasn't fighting for the people and democracy of Vietnam, he was fighting for his shitty life". That's where all the reluctance steams from, but by the time he starts having doubts, some of it has already been written.
If Han's an empty shell, his former comrade, Pyon Chin-su, has a much deeper PTSD, and his mental sanity is severely damaged. To the point he acts weird enough for his wife to have enough and plan abandoning him, talks random nonsense at times, and carries around a gun thinking someone is after his life, when he attempts suicide with it a couple of times. In my humble opinion, I think he has already transcended into psychopathy, and it's further revealed he's hunted by the deaths of his comrades.
I found this movie to be ok, provided me with a fair amonth of drama, and I loved the bittersweet ending (I call it bittersweet given Pyon's circumstances compared to Han's better preserved sanity).