Korean Peninsula Films

The Korean Peninsula and the divided nation of Korea remains a tense and enduring issue for peace and reconciliation, and one of global significance. Cinematic portrayals of the Korean conflict are largely produced from within South Korea, and often focus on the emotional impact of the divide. As issues of familial separation, loss, and identity remain key factors of the present-day conflict, these are presented in these films.

  • Soldiers at Joint Security Area: Taken 2010, Seoul. Copyright Youngnak Church, used with permission.


Address Unknown (2001) When a middle-aged woman tries to track down the American soldier who fathered her during the Korean War, her letters are all returned unopened. Her son, already bullied at school, falls in love with a girl who is in an abusive relationship with an American soldier stationed in Korea. Angered at the girl's rejection of him, the boy's violent reaction has drastic consequences for everyone involved. (Directed by Kim Ki-Duk.)

As One (2012) The cinematic retelling of the first ever post-war Unified Korea sports team, hastily formed to participate in the 41st World Table Tennis Championships in 1991. Following the North Korean mid-air bombing of Korean Air Flight 858 in 1987, a Summit was held between North and South Korea to defuse the extreme tension on the peninsula. The summit ended with the agreement to form a unified Korean sports team; and table tennis, being highly visible and world-class in both countries, was chosen as the symbolic unifier. (Directed by Moon Hyeon-seong.)

Dooman River (2010) Chang-ho, 12, becomes friend with a North-Korean immigrant about the same age who just crossed the Dooman River, border between North-Korea and China. His mute sister and his wise grand-father accompany him in a series of misfortunes. (Directed by Lu Zhang.)

In Love and War (Jeok-gwa-eui Dong-chim)(2011) South Korean comedy/drama starring Kim Joo-hyuk and Jung Ryeo-won. In June 1950, soon after the Korean War breaks out, a troop of North Korean soldiers enter a small South Korean village. The troop captain proclaims that they came to liberate the villagers but their true agenda is to identify reactionaries. The villagers offer them heartfelt hospitality and cooperation to avoid falling out of the army's favour. Eventually genuinely strong and close friendship starts to build up between the soldiers and the villagers. (Directed by Park Geon-yong.)

Joint Security Area (Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA) (2000) Korean anti-war drama set on the volatile Demilitarised Zone between the South and the communist North of the country. After a confused incident at night, where both sides open fire at each other, one North Korean soldier is killed and a South Korean soldier is injured. Hoping to avoid an escalation in the crisis, both sides agree to allow neutral Korean-Swiss investigator Sophie Jean (Li Yeong-Ae) look into the case. When she discovers discrepancies in the amount of bullets fired from each soldier's gun that night, and when witnesses try to commit suicide rather than talk to her, Jean realises that the truth behind the shooting is much more explosive. (Directed by Park Chan-wook.)

Film synopses and descriptions for Address Unknown and Joint Security Area from Amazon UK (http://www.amazon.co.uk/). Descriptions for As One; Dooman River and In Love and War, sourced from IMDb (http://www.imdb.com/).

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