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[Movie 2000] Joint Security Area 공동경비구역 J S A

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Joint Security Area (2000) KR

[dir: Chan-Wook Park; script: Hyun-Seok kim, Mu-Young Lee; cinematography: Seong-Bok Kim]

Cast: Byung-Hun Lee, Kang-Ho Song, Young-Ae Lee

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In competition at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival and broke all domestic box office records to become the most successful in Korean film history.

Set in one of the most militarised frontiers in the world, the film tells of the friendship between a couple of North and South Korean soldiers.

In a succinct but intense fashion the film reflects the cold-war reality still prevailing in the Korean peninsula after 50 years of division. This film also looks at the present status of Korea in the world of politics, some of the realities that Korea continues to face.

JSA boasts a highly unusual setting for its drama - the border between North and South Korea, the last flashpoint of the defunct Cold War. It is a location that gives an original twist to this political thriller with a winningly compelling human drama at its core.

The film takes its title from the Korean name for the demilitarised no-man's land that has separated North and South Korea for the past half century. This 800-metre neutral zone is the setting for the shootout that kicks off the story.

A South Korean soldier is accused of killing two soldiers from the North and wounding a third. As both sides regard the incident as a deliberate provocation from the other side, the neutral states that oversee demilitarised zone are brought in to handle the investigation. Sophie, the Swiss daughter of a Korean who is visiting her father's homeland for the first time, is charged with the puzzle.

It is through her that the audience is introduced to the extraordinary environment. As the flashbacks start about half an hour in, the audience is introduced to what really happened: South Korean Sergeant Lee is trapped by a landmine, and two North Korean soldiers set him free. This triggers a friendship among the trio which they have to keep concealed all around.

JSA tackles the delicate subject of the divided country within the frame of a genre film. But it is the human dimension that comes to the fore.

More compelling than the investigation thanks largely to the actors' performances is the humour and warmth of the scenes that outline how the soldiers meet and how their relationship begins to flourish.

—Film Guide, LG Korean Film Festival

Added: May 28th 2003

Reviewer: Hamilton

Score: star.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gifstar.gif

Source: http://asianfilm.org/modules.php?name=Revi...owcontent&id=30

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February 14, 2007 

Positive Effect of South Korean Media Claimed in North Korea
Source: Yi Ch'ang-ho (KOFIC)

A survey was conducted among 30 North Korean defectors who are currently living in South Korea. According to them, the North Korean government is trying to improve people’s lives to anticipate possible social unrest which they suspect could be ignited by what people see in South Korean popular culture. The survey showed that North Koreans illegally have access to South Korean films, television dramas and pop music.

The survey was conducted by the Ministry of Unification and the government institution assisting North Korean refugees Hanawon. It indicated that North Koreans much enjoy South Korean media. It seems that it’s especially popular among young North Koreans and that quoting of one-liners from South Korean films has become fashionable.

A much quoted film in North Korea is PARK Chan-wook’s Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005). Named popular television dramas are 'Autumn Fairy Tale' and 'The Immortal Admiral Yi Sun-shin'. Korean stars like BAE Yong-joon and JANG Dong-kun are also the object of adoration by North Korean fans. 

South Korean cinema naturally often deals with the division of Korea and JANG Dong-kun happens to portray a North Korean protagonist in the political action film Typhoon, in 2005 directed by KWAK Kyung-taek. JANG was also one of the leading actors in Tae-guk-gi (KANG Je-gyu, 2004). His character ends up fighting on both the South Korean and North Koran side during the Korean War.

PARK Chan-wook dealt with the North-South division in his 2000 break-through film Joint Security Area : JSA. The film portrays a close friendship between South and North Korean soldiers separated by an artificial demarcation. SONG Kang-ho and SHIN Ha-kyun’s warm portrayal of North Koreans resulted in JSA to become the first South Korean film to be officially invited by the North Korean government. The film went on to become South Korea’s most popular film at that time. LEE Young-ae – the protagonist of Sympathy for Lady Vengeance whose character’s lines are often quoted in North Korea – was also part of the JSA cast.

South Korean films, dramas and pop music are circulating in the North Korean capital Pyongyang and in places along the North Korean border. They are bought from people who cross the North Korean and Chinese border.

May 17, 2007

Behind-the-scene JSA captures from CINE21, copied from leebyunghun.com

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Source: fuyu-sonata.com, thanks to Angel70-lovelbh.com for the highlight

JSA location pics

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- the DMZ was built for the production exactly the same structure & everything else... the way the original spot is

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Park Chan Wook’s ‘Joint Security Area’

Published by kensai August 13th, 2007 
http://www.asianjunkie.com/park-chan-wooks...-security-area/

Synopsis
“In the DMZ separating North and South Korea, two North Korean soldiers have been killed, supposedly by one South Korean soldier. But the 11 bullets found in the bodies, together with the 5 remaining bullets in the assassin’s magazine clip, amount to 16 bullets for a gun that should normally hold 15 bullets. The investigating Swiss/Swedish team from the neutral countries overseeing the DMZ suspects that another, unknown party was involved - all of which points to some sort of cover up. The truth is much simpler and much more tragic.”

Source-Internet Movie Database
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0260991/plotsummary

Good characters, good directing, good acting, good story, it’s an outstanding film in almost every way…except one. I hate to rag on foreigners in Asian related richard simmons but they really are terrible. It seems that Asian people cannot find legit actors so they just take any random dudes off the street, it’s problematic because doing so has the potential to ruin otherwise outstanding television shows, music videos or movies. They really need to spend a little money and pay real foreign actors instead of just taking random people off the street to act like stiffs. I’ve heard it ruins the entire film for some people…but i’m pretty sure those people are richard simmons morons.

Anyway, in addition to being an outstanding film, it also had further implications on the Korean film industry. Its financial viability allowed Park to create his trilogy of vengeance movies and now he’s one of the better directors in the world. And ‘Joint Security Area’ was a worthy film to pave his way to success.

Information-Internet Movie Database
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0260991/

Indirectly.. related.. mention..

The Guard Post

South Korea's meandering border with the North is one of the world's most surreal places, a heavily armed space still trapped in the Cold War. Park Chan-wook's JSA depicted the tension and close proximity of Southern and Northern soldiers at Panmunjeom, a former truce village that is now divided cleanly in half. But elsewhere along the DMZ, the most prominent structures are guard posts (GP for short): large, heavily armored self-contained forts that are strung along the border like pearls on a necklace. North Korea also maintains its own guard posts, which form pairs with those on the South.

The atmosphere in the DMZ (the term "de-militarized zone" is a bit of a joke) is tense. The military sends its strongest soldiers to this area, and imposes the harshest degree of discipline on them. Shots are occasionally exchanged across the border. Suicides or mysterious deaths have been known to occur among the men stationed there, and there was a recent case of a solider in a guard post who became mentally unhinged and slaughtered many of his fellow recruits.

What better place to set a supernatural gore fest? GP506 is a guard post that has fallen strangely silent (each GP is required to send a signal to headquarters every half hour; if the signal is not received, troops are sent in). A neighboring contingent of soldiers enters the post and finds blood on the walls and grossly dismembered bodies strewn in every direction. A military inspector arrives to investigate, and at first the deaths seem to be the result of some inner conflict within the group. The one surviving soldier is severely traumatized and seems unwilling to talk. Eventually, however, more disturbing clues emerge.

Kong Su-chang received both critical praise and commercial success with his debut R-Point (2004), about a company of Korean soldiers serving in Vietnam who are sent to a remote location to investigate a vanished squadron. The Guard Post would appear at first glance to be a virtual redux, with only the setting changed, but it's surprising how different the two films feel. R-Point was a slow-moving, chilling mystery with a slightly arty feel to it. The Guard Post is a roller coaster that wears its genre credentials more prominently on its sleeve, and despite its setting, offers a less developed political subtext. Unfortunately R-Point's greatest strengths -- its pitch-perfect ensemble acting and narrative coherence -- are reproduced far less successfully in the latter film.

The making of The Guard Post turned out to be more of an adventure than the filmmakers hoped. Midway through production, a spreading sense of crisis in the Korean film industry, together with unrelated trouble at the film's production company, caused the film's main investors to back out and shooting to ground to a halt. It appeared for some time that the film would never be finished, but eventually distributor Showbox stepped in and re-started the project. 

Viewers beware: The Guard Post is gory! Brains, rotting flesh, self-mutilation -- this movie goes the extra mile (the poor woman sitting next to me at the press screening seemed to only barely make it through the film). Whereas R-Point had sort of a crossover appeal for people who don't like horror films, The Guard Post seems intended more explicitly for fans of the genre.

At two hours in length, the film is not short, and unfortunately the middle section is somewhat flaccid and confusing (some viewers may be annoyed by the constant jumping back and forth between past and present). I also found it frustrating that for all the care taken to build a highly authentic guard post set, the film never takes the time to properly "introduce" it to the viewer. JSA by contrast, was much better at finding ways to orient and inform the viewer about Panmunjeom.However as its mysteries are sorted out, The Guard Post does finally find its rhythm in the last 30 minutes, and from then on out it's an engaging enough genre splatterfest. (Darcy Paquet) 

Source: koreanfilm.org

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June 13, 2001

Somewhere over the DMZ 
By MARK SCHILLING japantimes.co.jp

Joint Security Area 
Rating: * * * 1/2 
Director: Park Chan Wook 
Running time: 110 minutes Language: Korean 

Two types of Korean movies used to be released in Japan. One was the art film, usually something dark, raw and intense. The other was the erotic film, usually something dark, raw and intense, but with more rapes and bared breasts. Neither did particularly well at the box office, though the latter had a small, devoted following.

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Song Kang Ho (far right) 
and Lee Byung Hun (center) in "JSA" 


In recent years, however, the Korean movie business has come to resemble Hong Kong's. While still turning out art films, including good ones made by a new generation of talented directors, the industry has become much better at producing exportable commercial films. The first to hit big in Japan was "Shuri" (original Korean title "Shiri," renamed here because it means "bottom" in Japanese). This Kang Je Kyu action-romance about a North Korean agent who falls in love with one of her South Korean counterparts smashed box-office records in both Korea and Japan following its release in 1999, while making Japanese distributors and audiences aware that Korean films have a vitality, dynamism and sheer entertainment value too often missing in the local product.

One reason for this difference: Recent dramatic changes in Korean public life, notably the easing of tensions with the North, have been a stimulus to the film industry in a way no longer possible in Japan, where decades have drifted by in an LDP-induced torpor -- not exactly the stuff of rousing popcorn movies (though some enterprising producer may be developing "Mr. Koizumi Goes to Nagata-cho").

Last year, Park Chan Wook's "JSA (Joint Security Area)," another political drama with a North-South theme, broke the record "Shuri" set at the Korean box office. Now the Japanese distributors of "Shuri" -- Cine Quanon and Amuse Pictures -- have given "JSA" the biggest local release ever for a Korean film. Racking up large numbers after its May 26 release, it will probably rewrite the record book here as well.

All of which makes "JSA" sound like "Shuri Part 2." Not really. Though set on the North-South border and made with a big budget for a Korean film, nearly $ 4.5 million, "JSA" is more concerned with the vagaries of human nature under the stress of an unending Cold War than with its plot or explosions. As a drama, it works quite well, with strong performances from all four of its principals, though the machinations required to bring them together strain belief.

Watching "JSA" I was reminded of "The Bridge," a 1960 German film by Bernhard Wicki that made a huge impression on me when I saw it as a teenager in a Pennsylvania mill town. Set in Germany during the last, desperate days of World War II, this story about the hopeless defense of a bridge by a ragtag squad of boys and old men showed me a face of the Enemy that I'd never seen in a Hollywood war film, in which Germans were either caricatures or faceless, goose-stepping hordes. 

"JSA," I think, is serving a similar purpose for a new generation of Koreans and Japanese, who may know North Korea only from photo ops with the Dear Leader or news stories about starving peasants. It is a film that would have been impossible to make not long ago, when any sympathetic portrayal of North Koreans on the screen would have called down the wrath of government censors.

The film's setup is standard thriller stuff: a shooting incident in the Joint Security Area -- a demilitarized zone dividing North and South near the Panmunjom Truce Village -- leaves a North Korean soldier (Shin Ha Kyun) dead and a South Korean soldier wounded. The North Koreans claim their man was murdered, while the South Koreans counter that theirs was kidnapped. To resolve this conflict, with its potential for explosive repercussions, both sides agree to call in an investigator from the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, a Korean-Swiss woman named Sophie Jean (Lee Yeong Ae).

A serious, methodical type, Sophie Jean decides to dig harder when the two soldiers involved in the incident, South Korean Sgt. Lee Soo Hyeok (Lee Byung Hun) and North Korean Sgt. Oh Kyeong Pil (Song Kang Ho), contradict each other in their testimony. Then, after she interrogates a witness to the incident, South Korean soldier Nam Sung Shik (Kim Tae Woo), he attempts suicide. Who is lying? Why did Nam pull the trigger on himself? Meanwhile, both sides are pressuring her to report "acceptable" findings that may or may not jibe with the truth.

She slogs on, however, and we begin to see that, instead of facing off across a no man's land, the four principals had been meeting at night at the North Korean guardhouse to shoot the bull, read porn magazines and deepen an uneasy friendship. That friendship, however, had turned to tragedy -- but why?

Though Sophie Jean is less a character than a plot construct, Lee Yeong Ae acquits herself with dignity and poise. Native English speakers, however, may wonder why, after a lifetime in Switzerland, this NNSC officer speaks their language with a strong Korean accent.

The strongest performance, though, is that of Song Kang Ho as the North Korean sergeant Lee Oh. Bluff but good-natured, politically sophisticated after years of overseas duty, but touchy when provoked, Lee Oh is a volatile, recognizably human mix. He gives credibility to the film's central premise -- that Northerners, including those stern-faced soldiers patrolling the world's oldest truce line, want much the same things as their Southern counterparts. Also excellent in the hit comedy "The Foul King," Song has the kind of range and presence that most Japanese actors of his generation can only wish for.

As the South Korean Sgt. Lee, Lee Byung Hun ably embodies average South Korean manhood after four decades of peace: resigned to his hitch in the military, but bored to tears with its routine -- and unconvinced that the guys on the other team wear horns.

None of this will surprise anyone who has studied the American Civil War, in which fraternization was rife, especially when the two sides had been eyeing each other over entrenchments for weeks. Enemies would begin by trading insults and end by getting together for games of cards or communal swims. We can only hope the standoff in Korea will lead to a similar conclusion -- not defeat and ruin for one side, but an erasure of borders -- and a meeting of brothers in arms, without threat of bloodshed.

Source: daum.net, credit to Angel 70 - lovelbh.com

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^^Cute! It's refreshing to see these guys out of their military uniform and serious JSA personas, and be in a more relaxed and cheerful disposition. :)

Here's something for contrast. :D

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Joint Security Area's so smartly crafted. The cinematography's good. The actors were great (though I'm a tad distracted by Lee Young Ae's perkiness, and the incromprehensible English of the supposedly English-speaking folk.) And the plot was just mind-blowing!!!! I felt a chill up my spine, a stiffled cry in my heart, and I was left speechless for a several minutes after watching the movie, afraid that once I speak, my emotions would come gushing forth. I'm not even Korean, yet I felt all this emotional over the enmity brought forth by North and South Korean conflict. Yet the desire for friendship and brotherhood remains innate in every man.

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DATE 2006-03-24

Korean wave crosses the pacific

The Korean Wave is hitting the shores of America's West coast hard. Many cities such as Los Angeles have shown that Korean movies and dramas are currently receiving more attention from not only ethnic minorities, but also mainsteam America.

As a result of the growing interest in the Korean culture shown by the American public, an increasing number of Americans and ethnic minorities, including Chinese and Vietnamese are now renting Korean movie DVDs.

Only a few years ago, video and DVD rental stores in the U.S. such as Blockbuster and Hollywood, had only a small selection of Korean movies. But as Korean movies gain popularity in the U.S., such stores have increased the selections of Korean movies dramatically for American movie maniacs.

Blockbuster, the U.S.' largest rental store of video and DVDs, now has dozens of DVDs on Korean movies. The selection of Korean movies at Blockbuster includes such Korean masterpieces as "Old Boy," "Tae-Guk-Gi," "JSA," "3-Iron," "Way Home."

These Korean movies have won awards at international movie festivals and received rave reviews from movie critics over the past few years.

"Unlike other Asian movies, Korean movies reflect people's lives and emotions more directly. They also show the distinctiveness of Korean culture in a manner that Americans could not otherwise see over here," a Los Angeles resident Calvin Appleton said. "I want to see as many Korean movies as possible. It's great that so many video stores are carrying Korean movies now."

Jeff Miller, one of the managers of Rock Video, a movie rental store in L.A., also notes, "The number of American customers looking for Korean movies has been increasing steadily since last year."

"The interesting trend in rentals of Korean movies is that the customers are not solely Koreans, or Asians, but often other Americans as well," Miller added.

There are slight differences in the number of Korean movies available at rental stores in the U.S. However, chains such as Blockbuster and Hollywood have quite a good selection.

Summary of some Korean movies at Blockbuster:

J.S.A. - Joint Security Area

jpgRiding the trend of Korean action blockbusters after the phenomenally popular Swiri, Park Chan Wook directs this murder mystery thriller about a death on the DMZ. The film opens with a shooting along the heavily militarized border between North and South Korea, which leaves a North Korean soldier (Shin Ha- Kyun) dead and a South Korean soldier injured. Hoping to reduce the potentially explosive political fallout by solving the crime quickly, both countries agree to an investigator of Korean-Swiss descent named Sophie Jean (Lee Yeong-Ae).

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As she methodically sifts through the evidence, Sophie learns that the testimony of two other soldiers -- North Korean Oh Kyeong Pil (Song Kang-Ho) and South Korean Lee Soo Hyeok (Lee Byung-Hun) -- are completely contradictory. Another witness (Kim Tae-Woo) tries to commit suicide rather than divulge information. Sophie soon concludes that a group of guards from the North and South, after years of eyeing each other, started meeting in the North Korean guard house to chat, fawn over porn, and to play cards.

Starring: Song Kang-ho, Kim Tae-woo, Lee Yeong-ae

Article courtesy of Korea.net

Source:

http://english.tour2korea.com/02Culture/En...num=1&kosm=m2_7

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June 5, 2006

To Know Korea, Understand the War

By Kim Tae-jong, Staff Reporter e3dward@koreatimes.co.kr koreatimes.co.kr

Tuesday is Memorial Day, a day when the entire nation honors the veterans who sacrificed their lives for their country and fellow Koreans during the Korean War.

Apart from a patriotic perspective, it is also important to understand the war and its aftermath still have a great influence on people's lives although it has been 56 years since hostilities commenced.

To facilitate understanding of the tragedy, the Korean Film Archive (KOFA) is offering special program every weekend this month with a collection of eight films that were produced from 1950 to 2000.

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The Korean War is one of most commonly used motifs in local

movies, but its portrayal has been varied depending on directors

and the time period. "Joint Security Area or JSA" (2000) by Park

Chan-wook is one of the first works that started to see North

Korea as a neighbor.

"Without understanding the war, you cannot understand Korea and its people," said Kim Bong-young, the team leader of the research and education department at KOFA. "The war has had a large influence on the social, political and cultural sectors of the nation."

Titled "Weekend Classics," the program collects movies concerning the war and its effects. To assist for foreign audience members, they will all be screened with English subtitles.

The movies are "Piagol" by Lee Kang-cheon from 1955; "The Red Muffler" by Shin Sang-ok, 1964; "Mismatched Nose" by Im Kwon-taek, 1980; "The Winter That Year Was Warm" by Bae Chang-ho, 1984; "North Korean Partisan in South Korea" by Jeong Ji-young, 1990; "To the Starry Island" by Park Kwang-su, 1993; "Spring in My Hometown" by Lee Kwang-mo, 1998; and "Joint Security Area" (JSA) by Park Chan-wook, 2000.

"The movies will also help people understand the changes in the view of the war and the relationship between the North and South as they have been portrayed differently depending on the directors and on the time period," Kim said.

Right after the war ended, most films dealt with propaganda issues as the government focused on spreading anti-socialism and, in many cases, abused it politically.

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The early works such as "Piagol" and "The Red Muffler" show how people struggled to live in the war-torn country where they also suffered from ideological confusion. But in 1990s and 2000s, people started to make an effort to see the North as a neighbor, not as a mere enemy. One of the most impressive works is "Joint Security Area," which looks at a friendship that develops among South and North Korean soldiers serving in the Demilitarized Zone near the border.

Along with "Weekend Classics," four movies set in the Choson Dynasty, will be screened at 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday at the archive, starting with "Women of [the] Yi-Dynasty" (1969) by Shin Sang-ok on Wednesday, followed by "Eternal Empire" (1994) by Park Jong-won, "The Hut" (1980) by Lee Du-yong and "The Sino-Japanese War and Queen Min the Heroine" (1965) by Lim Won-shik.

The screenings take place at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets for each screening are 2,000 won. The Korean Film Archive is located in the Seoul Arts Center, near exit 5 of Nambu Bus Terminal Station on subway line 3. For more information, call (02) 521-2101 or visit www.koreafilm.or.kr.

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great movie from park chan wook. I really enjoyed the movie except the english speaking parts :P. the actors are great(prob why the park chan wook still have them in his latest films). Thought after multiple viewing it takes out the greatness of the 1st viewing and begins to drag for me :[. but none the less a great movie between north and south koreans. Heard many of the youngers loved the film, but the ajusshi's disliked the film and the idea of north and south koreans becoming friends.

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^

Hi there! I agree that the English-speaking scenes could have been better and more natural to really show Major Sophie's background but it didn't. Can't help noticing that the Swiss-born officer speaks fluidly in Korean (supposing to be her second language) than English.

Anyway... didn't realize that some dislike the movie for the friendship theme it conveys. It's the best part of the movie how and when everything unravels... to one very important message... brotherhood. Despite the totally opposite stance on politic, they are still from the same ancestors, speaking the same language & practising the same customs. A pity that war with no winners only made them suffer more... missing families and loved ones, separated by the borders of DMZ.

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2006.06.09

Weekend Screenings Korean War Films at KOFA

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The Korean Film Archive (KOFA) programmed Korean films dealing with the Korean War and the division of Korea with English subtitles. The films will be screened on weekend afternoons in the month June. The program is titled "War and Society: 1950-2000" (www.koreafilm.org/theatre/screening_main.asp) and features Korean classic films starting from 1950 up to contemporary blockbusters until 2000.

The Korean Film Archive hopes to achieve a better understanding of the Korean society and its people among foreigners through this series of films. The Korean War and the division of Korea are such pivotal and influential elements of contemporary Korea, that insight in these aspects are crucial for understanding Korea.

Many Korean films deal with the Korean War and/or the division of Korea. Films using this subject matter vary greatly in genre and style. From a bleak spy-thriller like Double Agent to a comedy like Spy Girl. The list of most popular films in Korea contains many films that would qualify for the Korean Film Archive's "War and Society: 1950-2000".

Recent blockbusters with the theme are: Shiri, Joint Security Area, Silmido and Taegukgi. The latest big-budget film about the division, Typhoon, didn't create a wave like its predecessors. Typhoon was recently released in North American cinemas.

From the contemporary popular films the Korean Film Archive selected Joint Security Area (PARK Chan-wook, 2000). The other chosen films are LEE Kang-cheon's Piagol (1955), SHIN Sang-ok's The Red Muffler (1964), IM Kwon-taek's Mismatched Noses (1980), BAE Chang-ho's The Winter Was Warm That Year (1984), JEONG Ji-young's North Korean Partisan in South Korea (1990), PARK Kwang-su's To the Starry Island (1993), and LEE Kwang-mo's Spring in My Hometown (1998).

Yi Ch'ang-ho (KOFIC)

Source: http://www.koreanfilm.or.kr/news/news_view...em=&tmp_cnt=403

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June 14, 2004

Film Studio Creates Realistic Environment

By Kim Tae-jong, Staff Reporter e3dward@koreatimes.co.kr l travel2.innolife.net

NAMYANGJU, Kyonggi Province - Have you ever wondered how the movie "<b>JSA (Joint Security Area)</b>" was shot in the truce village of Panmunjom located in the middle of the Demilitarized Zone between South and North Koreas? Or how the film "Chihwason (Strokes of Fire)'' was able to contain scenes of a village from the late Choson Kingdom?

Since its foundation in 1997 by the Korean Film Council, the Seoul Studio Complex in Namyangju, Kyonggi Province has provided local and international filmmakers with location supports and other facilities.

Outfitted with six cinematography studios and various indoor and outdoor sets in its 400,000-pyong (1.3 square meters) of land as well as movie production equipment and facilities, the complex is also open to ordinary people who want to have an inside look at the sets and uncover the behind-the-scenes secrets of popular local movies.

Many local movies including the latest hits "Untold Scandal," "Taegukgi" and "Silmido" have been made at studios in the complex. And currently, an upcoming horror movie "Inhyongsa (Doll Master)" is being shot at an indoor set of a two-storey doll museum, where the main characters are involved in murder cases.

"It's convenient and cost effective to make indoor sets," said An Young-jin, line producer of "Doll Master." "With the development of camera and lighting equipment technology, it is almost impossible to recognize the artificiality of indoor sets when you are watching movies."

The producer added, "Indoor sets enable filmmakers to depict more natural scenes since they don't need to worry about walls or angles of camera since they can easily put in or get rid of walls." Although visitors are not allowed to see indoor sets of movies currently in production since the complex is basically run for moviemakers, about a thousand people a day visit the complex and feel as if they are part of movies they saw.

"With the growing popularity of local movies," said Yi Kyung-yull, director of studio management department in the Seoul Studio Complex, "More and more people are now coming here to see how movies are made." "Compared to the Universal Studios in the United States, our complex might be disappointing, but we are now making efforts to improve the quality of our facilities so visitors can enjoy them," Yi added.

The complex features two outdoor sets used for "JSA" in 2000 and "Strokes of Fire" in 2001 along with the recreation of a traditional house called "Woondang," which is often used for television dramas.

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The recreation of "Panmunjom" area was made based on the actual location in Paju, Kyonggi Province, which became the most popular place in the complex after the success of JSA, and the folk village from "Strokes of Fire" consists of about 60 traditional houses along with traditional shops and restaurants, modeled on one of the villages of Chongno, Seoul in the 19th century.

"Since I was fascinated by South Korean soap operas and films, I really wanted to visit here and see how they were made," said Patricia Ang, a tourist from Singapore, who was looking around the outdoor set of JSA. As a big fan of South Korean melodrama such as "Kaul Tonghwa (Autumn in My Heart)", "Kyoul Yonga (Winter Sonata)" and "All In," she was spending the first day of her five-day trip to Seoul in the complex.

And to give visitors a more interesting demonstration of how movies are made, the main building of the complex, the Film Supporting Hall, has several special rooms such as the Film Cultural Hall, the Visual Experience Room, and a warehouse for properties used in movies.

The Film Cultural Hall shows the history of local movies and displays photos, posters and film equipment. In the Visual Experience Room, visitors can see and try to use movie related facilities and up-to-date equipment. And there are about 400,000 properties used in movies, commercials and TV programs on display in the warehouse, ranging from small gadgets to costumes.

Seoul Studio Complex

Where: Sambong-ni, Namyangju, Kyonggi Province

When: Everyday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except for Mondays

How much: From 2,000 won to 3,000 won

Info: call (031) 579-0600 or visit www.kofic.or.kr

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July 4, 2006

Park Chan-wook Asked to Sit on Venice Jury

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The leading Korean director Park Chan-wook has been asked to sit on the jury of the 63rd Venice Film Festival on Aug. 30-Sept.9 to judge films in the international competition. The organizing committee also asked Spanish director Juan José Bigas Luna, Portuguese producer Paulo Branco, American director and screenwriter Cameron Crowe, Russian actor Chulpan Khamatova and the Italian actor and director Michele Placido to sit on the jury.

The jury president is French actress Catherine Deneuve. The group will be charged with awarding the Golden Lion and other awards. Park is the second Korean asked to sit on the jury of one of the three major film festivals this year after Lee Young-ae did jury duty in Berlin in February, Last year, Park’s film "Sympathy For Lady Vengeance" picked up the CinemAvvenire (Cinema of the Future) award in Venice, the Little Golden Lion, and the Best Innovated Film Award.

Park, who has also won wide international acclaim for his films "Joint Security Area: JSA" and "Old Boy" will release his latest film "Cyborg Girl" toward the end of the year.

(englishnews@chosun.com )

Source: http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/new...0607040013.html

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JSA tackles the delicate subject of the divided country within the frame of a genre film. But it is the human dimension that comes to the fore.

More compelling than the investigation thanks largely to the actors' performances is the humour and warmth of the scenes that outline how the soldiers meet and how their relationship begins to flourish.

—Film Guide, LG Korean Film Festival

Added: May 28th 2003

Reviewer: Hamilton

I agree with these views. Exactly what made me love the film.

We know that War films are already a dime a dozen not only in Korea but in other parts of the world where at one time or the other people experienced the tragedy of war.. the loss of human lives, properties and more importantly hopes and dreams.

More than the brutality and gore seen in it, what is unique about JSA is that it showed that friendship knows no boundaries... that man can find the tiniest kindness, warmth and companionship in another at any time, place and condition. And, JSA is unforgetable becoz the actors there gave a performance that made us feel that they are real.

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JSA (Joint Security Area) (DTS Version) (HK Version)

http://us.yesasia.com/en/PrdDept.aspx/code...pid-1001829037/

JSA (Joint Security Area) (Hong Kong Version)

http://us.yesasia.com/en/PrdDept.aspx/code...pid-1001829195/

From award-winning filmmaker Park Chan Wook, the director that brought us Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Old Boy, comes his earlier box office success, Joint Security Area (JSA)! Somewhere in the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea, two North Korean soldiers have been murdered outside their guard posts, and all signs point to a South Korean soldier as the prime suspect. However, when adding up the eleven bullets pulled from the corpses and the five bullets remaining in the suspect's clip, a glaring discrepancy is uncovered: the clip in question can only hold fifteen bullets, not sixteen. But unraveling the mystery of the double homicide proves difficult for Major Sophie Jean (Lee Young Ae, from Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), the leader of a neutral United Nations-type investigative team assigned to the case.

Stonewalled by authorities on both sides of the DMZ, Jean must sort out the differing accounts of the incident provided by the South Korean suspect, Sergeant Lee Soo Hyuk (Lee Byung Hun, from A Bittersweet Life) and the eyewitness testimony given by North Korean Sergeant Oh Kyung Pil (Song Kang Ho, from The Foul King). With the storm clouds of war looming on the horizon of this sensitive political situation, can Major Jean discover the truth before these age-old tensions give way to an all-out nuclear confrontation? And is there a vast conspiracy at work or something far simpler? Thanks to marvelous performances from its cast, Joint Security Area amounts to a gripping military thriller, one that went on to win multiple awards including Best Film honors at South Korea's Grand Bell Awards!

JSA - Joint Security Area (US Version)

http://us.yesasia.com/en/PrdDept.aspx/code...pid-1004415841/

This Korean thriller mines the historic tension between North and South Korea over activity in the JSA, the Joint Security Area, a region guarded by armies from both counties. When two North Korean soldiers are found dead there, it sets off a political chain of events that threatens to plunge the countries into war.

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July 19, 2006

Local Movies Thrive on Nationalism

By Kim Tae-jong, Staff Reporter e3dward@koreatimes.co.kr

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Korean movies thrive on nationalism as five of the 10 recent box-office local movies deal with nationalistic themes.

Heavy on anti-Japanese sentiment or rather on anti-foreign forces sentiment, "Hanbando (Korean Penisula)'' is the latest among the nationalism-tinged films that have become box office hits. Among the 10 most viewed films of all time, five deal with nationalistic issues: "Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood War'' (2004), "Welcome to Dongmakgol'' (2005), "Silmido'' (2004), "Swiri'' (1999) and "Joint Security Area (JSA)'' (2000).

Despite concerns over the film's controversial theme, "Hanbando'' ranked top at the box office this week, dethroning hitherto Hollywood blockbusters such as "Superman Returns" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest'' from local movie theaters.

According to KnJ Entertainment, the film's production company, "Hanbando'' drew over 1.5 million moviegoers for five days since its release on July 13. It is currently shown at 500 screens, one-third of the 1,500 screens across the country. There are few competitors at the box office. But the film's controversial theme has drawn mixed reviews from audiences. A flotilla of Japanese and Korean naval forces stand face to face on a calm East Sea. It's not over the Dokdo islets, but over Japan's claim to reconnected inter-Korean railway. Japan claims ownership to the railway, which is symbolic of Korea's turbulent modern history - built at the turn of the century by the then-colonial Japan, severed during the Korean War and then reconnected post-Cold War.

Those who enjoyed the film praised it highly saying that the current and past situation of Korea is mirrored well in the film. "I liked the film, despite some flaws in the development of the story in the later half of the film. It gave me a moment to think about my country and history,'' Kim Ji-hong, 28, office worker, said.

English instructor Suh Bo-yon, 32, said, "I think the film stimulates the sentiments that Korean audiences share, commercially and in an interesting way. And as a commercial film, nationalistic themes didn't really irritate me a lot.'' But those who criticize the film, including Kim Hye-jung, 25, an officer worker based in Seoul, say that it is out of tune with reality and intentionally strikes nationalistic nerves for its commercial success. "It doesn't really make sense,'' Kim said. "It has a too narrow perspective on the complicated diplomatic situation, and it abuses the Koreans' negative sentiment against Japan for its commercial success.''

The film's director Kang Woo-suk doesn't cringe because of such negative criticism. He also does not hide his purpose and openly says that his film aims to criticize Japan. "This is not a film that merely criticizes Japan without reason,'' Kang told reporters earlier this month after the pre-screening of his film at Seoul Theater, downtown Seoul. "Considering its thoughtless behavior, I really wanted to attack Japan through my film.''

Such movies with nationalistic themes, however, didn't translate into automatic success at the box office. There are such commercial flops as "Phantom, the Submarine'' (1999), "General of Heaven'' (2005), "Fighter in the Wind'' (2004) and "Rikidozan'' (2004) and others.

These films show different degrees of nationalism or emphasis on patriotism, but generally, nationalism is explored either by presenting North Korea in a sympathetic light as a struggling sibling or by depicting other powers such as Japan, China and the United States as an imperialist enemy that threatens the nation's independence. Sometimes it simply works as a part of marketing strategy to harness national pride.

The success of "Swiri'' initiated the trend toward films presenting the North as a wayward brother, a shift that coincided with the introduction of the "Sunshine Policy'' toward the Communist country by former President Kim Dae-jung. Nationalism combined with historical tragedies such as invasions by Western powers as well as Japan have since offered local filmmakers a range of possibilities.

But experts voice concerns over the radical nationalism in movies, saying that many rely on sentimental patriotism without careful insight. "Nationalism in movies tends to make it hard to take a balanced approach to historical events and the current situation,'' said Kim Heoun-sic, a pop culture critic, who writes columns for Internet news sites.

Kim also said Koreans' lack of national pride leads to the production of films with nationalistic themes as a form of vicarious satisfaction. "In such films as 'Fighter in the Wind' and 'Rikidozan,' a heroic Korean character physically defeats Japanese fighters while attracting Japanese women, such scenarios show how desperate Koreans are to prove they are superior to Japanese,'' Kim said. A recent poll on national pride backs his argument.

In the survey of the levels of patriotism in 34 countries, South Koreans ranked 31st. The survey issued by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago showed that Americans topped with Japanese standing at 18th. People assessed how proud they were of their countries in 10 categories, including political influence, social security, economic success, science and technology, sports, arts and literature, military and history. Other experts say that popularity of films with nationalistic themes goes to show that the films merely mirror what people want.

"Movies are based on the reality and reflect what audiences wants to see,'' said Gina Yo, a film critic and professor at Dongguk University. "The films with nationalistic themes results from the collective sense of inferiority or anger of their suppressed past, and they are in some ways an outlet to let the anger go.''

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July 19, 2006

Two More Top Film Fests Await Kim Tae-woo

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Discharge from military service is right in front of the nose of 31-year-old Sergeant Kim, but finishing his PhD won't be easy, nor will getting a job. To make matters worse, he learns about his wife's infidelity, plunging him into deep despair. Made up of three short sketches, the final episode of "Don't Look Back" (Dir. Kim Young-nam) seems perfect for Kim Tae-woo. Just like the characters he has given us so far, this one bumbles erratically through a dreary life. And again, it is an art-house film that seems a long way from a commercial success.

But right about the time that promotion work began on the film, the Locarno International Film Festival sent word that it would screen the film in competition for the Golden Leopard ? the third time Kim's face will be seen at a leading European film fest after "JSA: Joint Security Area" (2001, Berlin) and "Woman Is the Future of Man" (2004, Cannes).

Since this year's Venice International Film Festival is expected to invite director Hong Sang-soo's "A Woman on the Beach", Kim Tae-woo will have been in films at all four leading festivals. It looks like he has an eye for picking scripts. "Well, I choose them because I have a good feeling about them," he tells the Chosun Ilbo modestly. “Luck also played a major part."

Does he have an introspective personality? "I get asked that too much. But people who know me well would never say that. One production company head is always saying, 'Tae-woo has to be in a comedy sometime.'" But despite his surprisingly cheerful and direct personality, the actor does not want to talk about his private life, and the multitude of PR appearances he has to make for the film weigh heavy on his mind.

Kim tells an anecdote that shows just how deep his interest in the films is, and how strong his convictions. "I once turned down a part in a soap opera because I was so concentrated on an early-morning drama. The producer of the show called me a 'crazy man.' He must have been vexed being turned down after giving such a good opportunity to a newcomer. But later that same man sought me out and said he was impressed with my 'sense of responsibility' and asked me to appear in his work." Ten years later, Kim is still working with the heart of a newcomer and still as straightforward as ever. He may be no star, but he is an actor directors can trust to turn in a memorable performance.

(englishnews@chosun.com )

Source: http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/new...0607190011.html

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An ear-splitting gun-firing sound echoes in the extremely tensioned Joint Security Area. After subsequent gun-firing sounds are heard, a soldier passes out in the middle of crossing the bridge of no return. The South and the North get into exchanging cross fire, with the soldier on the bridge right at the center.

Right after this bizarre incident, Seargent Lee, Suhyuk from the South and the First Lieutenant Oh, Kyungpil from the North, who survived the skirmish, tell different stories about what happened, plunging the case into a labyrinth.

To examine this case, the neutral nation supervision committee dispatches Major Jang, Sophi from the Military Judicial Office in Switzerland. However the two witnesses who hold the key to the case remain silent.

Learning that none of the inquiries are fruitful, Major Sophie tries to find a missing bullet. As one of the first witnesses, Private First Class Nam, Sungsik commits suicide by jumping out of the window of the interrogation room, and Seargent Lee, Suhyuk starts losing his mind. Meanwhile, Seargent Lee desperately tries to hide the fact that he used to cross over the military demarcation line to visit Oh, Kyungpil and Jeong, Woojin after he happened to make friends with them in the middle of an operation. In addition, Major Sophi starts getting pressure from a higher official to cover up the case.

Under such circumstances, Sophie makes Lee, Suhyuk a suggestion that she submit a report that does no harm to the people he cares about if he tells her the truth. Finally, Lee, Suhyuk does tell Jang, Sophie the whole story about what happened at the joint security zone. On hearing the truth, Sophie’s face lightens up. On the other hand, a dark shadow is still cast on Suhyuk's face.

Source: http://english.tour2korea.com/hellohallyu/...10&conNum=1

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The 'JSA,' which stands for Joint Security Area, was created based on an agreement between the UN and North Korea on Nov. 8, 1954. It is a circled area, 800 meters in diameter with the conference hall at its center. At that time both parties agreed to establish JSA at the Military Armistice Commission Headquarters within 4 km south and north of the DMZ. The Military Demarcation Line (MDL) did not exist until 1976, allowing journalists and guards from both sides to freely cross over. However, since the notorious "Panmunjeom ax assault" from the North happened on Aug. 18, 1976, the MDL has been marked to prevent any military clashes. Currently, JSA guards from the UN keep guard on the side of South Korea while guards from the People’s Military Department stand guard on North Korea..

The movie “Joint Security Area” unravels the mystery around the death of a young North Korean guard. The murder case, notwithstanding opposite allegations from the two sides, is reconstructed like a jigsaw puzzle by the major, who tenaciously gets to the bottom of the case. And the whole truth slowly begins to be brought to light. At the same time, the movie has the characteristics of a humane drama in that the major in charge of examining the case, over time, gets more sympathetic and understanding towards the devastated hearts and minds of 'individuals' and 'human beings' living in a divided country.

Seeing that it is impossible to go back and forth to the MDL, the production staff visited Panmunjeom for research. Based on all kinds of data and historical research, they decided to design and build Panmunjeom and 'the bridge of no return,' and two guard posts, which were the main movie locations. They started to build them in Oct 1999 and finished Korea's largest open-air set in April 2000, investing as much as 900 million won in it. The open-air Panmunjeom, built on the site of 26,400 m2 at the Yangsuri Film Making Studio, is a perfect replica, including Panmungak, Palgakjeong and conference rooms. More than 60% of the film was shot on this set. Other open-air sets such as ‘the bridge of no return’, where the most dramatic scenes were shot, and two guard posts, where murder took place, were built in Asan, Chungnam.

The movie "Joint Security Area" was shot using the super 35mm format for the first time in Korea. This format, which has long been used by Hollywood-made blockbusters, is a varied method of shooting used to realize the cinemascope size of the 2.35:1 ratio of width and length rather than the ordinary screen size of 1.85:1. The 2.35:1 ratio, found only in Hollywood blockbusters so far, allows viewers to feel dynamic and spectacular scenes to the full. The use of the Super 35mm format can be considered to be the courageous first step into a new horizon by the Korean movie industry.

Source: http://english.tour2korea.com/hellohallyu/...10&conNum=1

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