Korean Language Blog

Korean Movie: Joint Security Area Posted by on Jun 13, 2018 in Korean Language, Vocabulary

Do you enjoy watching Korean movies? What is your favorite Korean movie? This post is about Joint Security Area, a Korean movie that reflects historical, political, and geographical situations of the Korean peninsula after the Korean War. This film could be refreshing to both those who toured around the DMZ and Panmunjeom and who have not.

Due to the recent summits, 북한 (North Korea) – 남한 (South Korea) and 북한 (North Korea)-미국 (U.S.), more of my friends have asked me questions regarding  통일 (unification) between 북한 and 남한.

photo by KLM

Did you know that North Korea and South Korea did not sign an official peace treaty at the end of the Korean War? Two Koreas signed an armistice agreement and have maintained the 휴전선 (armistice line) that sometimes refers to the military demarcation line. Due to the quaint circumstances of 북한 and 남한, the division of the Korean peninsula has been the recurrent theme in many movies.

  1. [book-han]  북한  :   North Korea
  2. [nam-han]  남한  :  South Korea
  3. [mi-gook]   미국  :  the United States of America
  4. [tong-il]   통일  :  unification
  5. [hyu-jeon-seon]  휴전선  :  armistice line/ military demarcation line

I recently had opportunities to watch several Korean 영화 (movies) that dealt with the relations between 북한  and 남한, and I would like to introduce one of my favorite  공동경비구역  to you. This film is known as  JSA or Joint Security Area in English. 공동경비구역  is not a recent movie, however, it has been acknowledged as a main thriller of Korean blockbusters since its release in 2000.

The following is a link to JSA trailer.

Joint Security Area Trailer

공동경비구역  was directed by one of the most distinguished Korean directors, 박찬욱 (Park, Chan-wook) who also directed 올드보이 (Oldboy) that was remade by Spike Lee in America. This movie stars Korean actors, 이병헌 (Lee, Byung-hun), 송강호 (Song, Kang-ho), and 이영애 (Lee, Young-ae) who are internationally recognized.

  1. [yeong-hwa]  영화 :   movie
  2. [kong-dong-kyung-bi-goo-yeok]  공동경비구역  :  the Joint Security Area
  3. [oldboy]  올드보이  Oldboy
  4. [i-byung-hun]  이병헌  :  Lee, Byung-hun
  5. [song-gang-ho]  송강호 : Song, Kang-ho
  6. [i-young-ae] 이영애 : Lee, Young-ae

The plot of this movie is based on a book, DMZ. This move unfolds its story with the crime scene investigation of two North Korean Soldiers at a North Korean guard post in the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). Due to this incident, the tension between North and South has increased, and Swiss Major Sophie Jean is called in to investigate the case. During her investigations, she tries to determine why a South Korean soldier Lee, Soo-hyeok and a North Korean soldier Kyeong-pil give her contradicting explanations regarding the event.

This movie reminded me how overwhelmed I was while I was touring around the DMZ and Panmunjeom to actually witness the border line between two Koreas. Thus, it was interesting to watch how director Park allowed the viewers to interpret this concrete borderline in several distinguished ways: depending on circumstances, with humors, fear, sadness, and happiness. Director Park sometimes makes this borderline invisible as well.

For those who have not watched this movie, I will not give you a spoiler of this movie. I hope you will enjoy watching this movie as much as I did. Let me know what you think about the four soldiers’ relationship in this movie and your interpretation of the borderline between 남한  and 북한.

감사합니다. (Thank you!)

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About the Author: Kyung-Hwa

안녕하세요? My name is Kyung-Hwa, and I am a native of South Korea. I am accustomed to both English and Korean languages and cultures. I greatly appreciate and love both of them. I am passionate about learning different languages, and I have studied English, Japanese, and Spanish. In my spare time, I take joy in singing, playing the piano, and reading books. I also enjoy traveling around the world, meeting people, and embracing new cultures and languages...