Joint Security Area is a Korean movie that takes place on the border between North and South Korea. I first heard about this movie in a documentary about Korean cinema. I thought it seemed interesting, but I forgot what it was called. Then, a few weeks ago, I was zapping through the channels on the TV and I landed on SVT2 (one of the Swedish public service channels) where the movie just started. I thought “ooh, Korean” and started watching, then I quickly realized that it was the movie I’d heard about before.

The movie is from the year 2000. It starts with a Korea-born Swiss major played by Lee Yeong-ae (Last Present, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) who is called in as a part of a neutral nation investigations team to investigate an incident where a South Korean soldier (Lee Byung-hun) was involved in a shooting in a guard house north of the border where two North Korean soldiers were killed and one wounded. The South Korean soldier and the North Korean survivor (Song Kang-ho from The Host and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) both have left statements of what happened. The investigating major finds inconsistencies in the stories and tries to find out what actually happened in that guard house. I don’t want to give away much more of the story. Hopefully that was enough to get you interested, but there’s much more to the movie than that.

I can’t recommend this movie enough. I bought the DVD after seeing it on TV and tonight I re-watched it. The story is told in a great way where you, little by little, find out the truth as the major interviews the people involved. The movie is also beautifully shot. The director is Park Chan-wook (the Vengeance trilogy).