71: Into the Fire
|71: Into the Fire|
|Revised Romanization||Pohwa sogeuro|
|Directed by||Lee Jae-han|
|Produced by||Choi Myeong-gi
|Written by||Lee Man-hee
Choi Seunghyun (T.O.P)
|Music by||Lee Dong-joon|
|Edited by||Choi Min-yeong
|Distributed by||Lotte Entertainment|
|Running time||120 minutes|
71: Into the Fire (Korean: 포화 속으로) is a 2010 South Korean war drama film directed by Lee Jae-han. The film was made in commemoration of those who fought during the Korean War, to raise awareness of the existence and importance of the student-soldiers during that period.
The film is based on a true story of a group of 71 undertrained and underarmed, outgunned student-soldiers of South Korea during the Korean War, who were mostly killed on August 11, 1950, during the Battle of P'ohang-dong. For 11 hours, they defended P'ohang-dong girls' middle school, a strategic point for safeguarding the Nakdong River, from an attack by overwhelming North Korean forces, the 766th Unit.
These 71 teenagers, most of whom had never shot a gun before, managed to hold out against the advancing North Korean army for 11 hours. Their heroic defense of the area was actually a turning point in the Korean War. 71: Into the Fire tells the story of these student-soldiers over the course of that fateful day.
The first scene begins with Oh Jang-Beom in a battle inside Yeongdeok, North Gyeongsang Province. He is ordered to run around and deliver supplies to soldiers in need, and help with any injured soldiers that need evacuation. As the city is later becoming overrun with North Korean troops, he is grabbed by one platoon commanders and pulled behind a building to hide with him and his platoon. Waiting for a chance to escape, they move through the alleyways where they run into North Korean soldiers attacking from both ends of the narrow alley. The South Korean platoon stood toe-to-toe with the attacking Northern Soldiers, and all were killed except for the South Korean lieutenant, Jang-Beom, and a North Korean soldier. During the fight, the lieutenant pushes Jang-Beom out of the way to save him, when he is shot by the last North Korean, and then charged and stabbed with his bayonet. As the North Korean has the South Korean commander pinned against the wall, twisting his bayonet into his stomach, Jang-Beom, mortified, eagerly searches his pockets for a rifle round, but is unable to kill the North Korean due to his fright. Another South Korean soldier shows up and kills the North Korean soldier, and they help the commander to the field hospital in Pohang where he can be treated. Feeling guilty, Jang-Beom stays with the commander, and tries to comfort him, but he soon dies from loss of blood. He puts the bloody rifle round which could have saved the commander into his pocket and keeps it as a memento.
Oh Jang-beom is later forced into becoming the leader of a student-soldier unit, simply because he is one of only three of the students who has combat experience (his combat experience was ammunition running between stations - not actual fighting) because every available soldier is needed at the Nakdong River. The rest of the student-soldiers have not even fired a weapon. One night, they repel a group of North Korean Commandos from the 766th Unit, 5th Division, North Korean People's Army. Oh Jang-beom kills a North Korean Commando. Later, while writing a note to his mother, he wonders why they have to be at war. The next day, while on patrol, they come under light fire from a single North Korean Commando. Overcome with emotion, they decide to follow them. The Commando leads them to a field, where a significant number of Commandos are waiting. The students get massacred, however, Oh Jang-beom, Gu Kap-Jo, and several other students survive. Goo Kap-Jo stabs a commando to death, while his fellow students fight on in an overly one sided battle. Oh Jang-beom kills several more of the Commandos while they are running away. They run into a young Commando, no more than 12 years old, and Gu Kap-Jo kills him with a single shot to the chest(however, it is never shown, it is believed to be the chest), ignoring Oh Jang-Beom's orders not to shoot. The remaining students return to the school, and most of them are overcome with the horrors of war. Even Gu Kap-Jo is visibly shaken, despite his hardened exterior. Many students die, among others, Wang Pyo, mostly considered a fool because of his lack of focus. It is revealed that they killed 12 Commandos, scouting the area, while losing 16. Morale is considerably lowered by the outcome of the skirmish. The scene cuts to the battlefield where the Captain of the soldiers recently stationed at the school is under attack. A group of American artillery soldiers is cut down under Communist fire. Later, a student soldier, Dal-Young, is captured by the North Koreans while patrolling and is interrogated for information about the schools' defenses by Park Mu-Rang's second-in-command. Park Mu-Rang then enters the tent where he is being interrogated, and gives the student a cup of water and says that to earn the enemies trust, you must use compassion. Being a father, Park Mu-Rang sympathizes with the student, and returns him to the school uninjured. When he arrives, he tells Oh Jang-Beom that in 2 hours from that point, his North Korean troops will occupy this school, and that if Oh Jang-Beom flies a white flag above the school, Park Mu-Rang would spare the lives of all the students. Remembering his orders, Oh Jang-Beom tells Park Mu-Rang that they will see each other here in 2 hours. Later, Gu Kap-Jo beats Dal-Young in front of the other students, calling him a coward and a traitor to South Korea. Gu Kap-Jo says that staying at the school is pointless and would get them all killed, and instead they should join the South Korean forces at the Nakdong River and fight and die heroically. Oh Jang-Beom says that Gu Kap-Jo is the real coward for wanting to abandon his allies and tells him to run away in a more quiet manner. Enraged, Gu Kap-Jo attacks Oh Jang-Beom and the two fight for a short time before being interrupted by a gunshot that came from Yong-Bae, who shot his younger brother, Yong-Man to put him out of his misery. Yong-Man was injured in the earlier skirmish, and ultimately would have died from blood loss anyways. The students watch as the elder brother walks away from his Yong-Man's dead body and tries to gather his composure. Afterwards, Gu Kap-Jo declares that he is going to Nakdong River, and leaves with his friend, Chang-Wu. Shortly after leaving, Gu Kap-Jo and Chang-Wu encounter a North Korean truck filled with supplies that was stuck in the road. They pretend to be friends of the North Korean forces and offer to help the soldiers. After successfully getting the truck unstuck, the North Korean soldiers prompt Kap-Jo with some questions, and the scene ends with the soldiers waiting for Kap-Jo's response. It is presumed he and Chang-Wu killed the soldiers.
The other students come to realize that they must work together to defend their country. They bolster their defenses, under the command of Oh Jang-Beom. The Communist Commander instructs his army to set up a line of defense 1 km from the school and wait for the signal to attack then. Oh Jang-beom prepares his troops for an attack. They figure out how to fire a mortar(by kicking it) and alert the Communists that they are ready. At first, they rip the Communists to pieces with several organized attacks including a wire trap that connected multiple grenades which detonated at the same time,and a turn-based volley of shots between two platoons of the student soldiers from behind cover. At first, it seems the scales are tipped in the favor of the students, but the North Korean forces were too many in number, and overwhelmed the students. One student throws a grenade tied to a potato in a sling-like manner which lands inside the gunner's seat of a North Korean armored vehicle, killing the gunner. After the North Korean forces have taken most of the field of the school, Oh Jang-Beom orders the rest of the students inside the building. As all hope seems lost at this point, a North Korean truck comes in from the side of the North Korean forces. In the back of the truck is Gu Kap-Jo firing a machine gun at the North Korean soldiers, as Chang-Wu drives the truck into the front of the entrance of the school, while Gu Kap-Jo continues firing and yells to Oh Jang-Beom that they have to finish their fight later. Using the truck as cover, the students unload weapons and ammunition from the truck and bring them inside the school.
At this point, a North Korean tank pulls up and begins to bombard the building, destroying a good portion of the front, and killing multiple students in the process. Oh Jang-Beom and Gu Kap-Jo make their way into a classroom and rest and talk for a while, as they've probably realized they will most likely die. Gu Kap-Jo tells Oh Jang-Beom that he isn't actually a student, because his family was too poor to send him to school. He expresses that he has come a long way from being an orphan to a soldier. Being in the same situation of being a student soldier, Oh Jang-Beom empathizes with Kap-Jo and they have seemingly discovered a new-found respect for each other. As the North Koreans invade the school, killing off any remaining students, Oh Jang-Beom and Gu Kap-Jo, along with Dal-Young make their way through the halls in an effort to get to the roof of the building. A North Korean soldier appears behind Kap-Jo and shoots. Dal-Young throws himself in front of Kap-Jo taking the fire, saving Kap-Jo's life. Dal-Young tells Kap-Jo that he has to live because he is brave and a better fighter than himself, and tells them both to go. Oh Jang-Beom and Kap Jo fight their way through the halls and make it to the stairs where they meet up with Chang-Wu and another student. Chang-Wu tells Kap-Jo to hurry up the stairs and Kap-Jo tells him to meet them on the roof. Once on the roof, Oh Jang-Beom and Kap Jo set up in the front-center of the roof with some sandbags and several machine guns in a last-ditch effort to kill the North Koreans. They kill a good amount of North Koreans before a tank fires at the roof, throwing them back and dazing them. Park Mu-Yang sees the two on the roof and makes his way into the building to finish them off. While walking through the halls, Dal-Young, still breathing, fires his rifle at Park, hitting him in the arm. Park then kills Dal-Young with a barrage of bullets from his machine gun. Chang-Wu and the last student soldier make their way up the stairs with tanks of petrol and explosives, only to be shot in the back by the North Koreans who have successfully invaded the building. At this point, all the students except for Oh Jang-Beom and Kap-Jo are dead. With his final breath, Chang-Wu removes the lid of the petrol tank which spills all over the stairs and onto the box of explosives, and ignites the petrol with his zippo lighter, killing many North Korean soldiers in the hallways in a fiery explosion.
Oh Jang-Beom and Gu Kap-Jo cover both entrances of the roof, taking turns reloading the mounted machine gun, and watch each other's backs. As North Koreans seem to pour out of each entrance, the mounted machine gun jams, and Oh Jang-Beom is shot in the upper-right chest area next to his shoulder, knocking him back momentarily. In this instance, the soldiers entering from Oh Jang-Beom's side shoot Kap-Jo in his lower back, the back of his leg, and arm. Kap-Jo, fueled by his hate for the North Koreans, stands up and continues to fight alongside Oh Jang-Beom and they kill the remaining soldiers on the roof. At the same time, Kang Suk-Dae and his American reinforcements arrive at the school, killing all the North Korean soldiers in the school yard. Afterwards, Oh Jang-Beom collapses from exhaustion. Gu Kap-Jo gives Oh Jang-Beom a quick smile as an acknowledgment of the respect between them, when Jang-Beom then sees Park Mu-Yang exit the stairs and onto the roof. As Jang-Beom stares in horror, he is unable to warn Kap-Jo because of his injuries, and cannot find the strength to speak. Park Mu-Yang calls out to Kap-Jo, who turns around and is shot multiple times from Park's machine gun. Park tosses aside his machine gun and pulls out his pistol and approaches Jang Beom, when he is grabbed by the leg by Kap-Jo. Although severely injured, and on the brink of death, Kap-Jo continues to fight (Possibly finds the strength because he is now fighting for someone other than himself [Jang-Beom]) and pulls out his knife and attempts to stab Park in the leg. Park then shoots Kap-Jo in the head, killing him. As Jang-Beom watches in horror, unable to move, a tear is seen running down his face as he watches Kap-Jo. As Park tells Jang-Beom that he had wished to avoid all of this, Jang-Beom subtly takes the rifle round he had saved from out of his pocket and into his rifle. Park tells Jang-Beom that all his sufferings are now at an end, as he prepares to shoot Jang-Beom, Jang-Beom then forces himself up with his last bit of strength and they fire at the same time. Park had shot Jang-Beom in the back (as he had to lean forward onto his rifle to point it at Park) while it appears that Jang-Beom had shot Park in his left lung. Both are now bleeding profusely, and Park becomes enraged and points his gun at Jang-Beom again when Kang Suk-Dae appears from behind and shoots Park 3 times in the back, killing him. The scene ends with Kang cradling Jang-Beom's head as Kang repeatedly apologizes for arriving too late. Jang-Beom dies seconds later.
100,000 South Korean students volunteered to fight in the war. This film was made as a commemoration of their sacrifices and was released during the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.
- Choi Seung-hyun as Oh Jang-beom
- Cha Seung-won as Sojwa Park Moo-rang
- Kwon Sang-woo as Koo Gap-jo
- Kim Seung-woo as Daewi Kang Seok-dae
- Park Jin-hee as the nurse
- Ronald G. Roman as Maj Gen John H. Church
- Kim Sung-ryung as Jang-beom's mother
Production and release
The film's first working title was 71, then Into the Gunfire. Filming began on December 1, 2009, with help from Ministry of National Defense (T.O.P. was injured during the filming), and finished on April 13, 2010.
During its theatrical run, the film drew 3,358,960 admissions at the box office, making it the fifth highest grossing film of 2010.
- 2010 Icheon Chunsa Film Festival: Jury Prize (71: Into The Fire)
- 2010 Grand Bell Awards: Korean Wave Popularity Award (Choi Seung-hyun)
- 2010 Blue Dragon Film Awards: Best New Actor, Most Popular Actor (Choi Seung-hyun)
- 2011 Baeksang Arts Awards: Best New Actor, Most Popular Actor (Choi Seung-hyun)