|Directed by||Kang Je-gyu|
|Produced by||Lee Seong-hun|
|Written by||Kang Je-gyu
|Music by||Lee Dong-jun|
|Editing by||Kyeong-hie Choi|
|Distributed by||Samuel Goldwyn Films|
|Running time||148 minutes|
Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War (Korean: 태극기 휘날리며; Taegukgi Hwinallimyo) is a 2004 South Korean war film directed by Kang Je-gyu. It stars Jang Dong-gun and Won Bin and tells the story of two brothers who are drafted in the South Korean army by force at the outbreak of the Korean War.
Kang Je-gyu made a name for himself directing Shiri and was able to attract top talent and capital to his new project, eventually spending USD $12.8 million on production. The film became one of the biggest successes in the South Korean film history up to that time, attracting 11.74 million people to the theatre, beating the previous record holder Silmido.
The film's title is the name of the pre-war flag of the People's Republic of Korea, the flag of the Provisional People's Committee for North Korea as well as the current flag of South Korea. It was released in the United Kingdom as Brotherhood: Taegukgi and the United States as Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (June 2009)|
The story then shifts to June 1950, in the South Korean capital of Seoul, where the Lee family lives. Jin-tae Lee (Jang Dong-gun) owns a shoeshine stand to pay for his younger brother Jin-seok's (Won Bin) education. Jin-tae's fiancée Young-shin (Lee Eun-ju) works with the Lee's noodle shop. On June 25, 1950, North Korea invades South Korea. Jin-seok is conscripted into the army and when his brother tries to get him off the train, he is conscripted as well. Jin-tae is told by his commanding officer that if he can earn the highest award for a South Korean soldier which is the Taeguk Cordon of the Order of Military Merit, his brother can be sent home. Jin-tae willingly volunteers for many dangerous suicidal missions. He is promoted to the rank of Chungsa (Sergeant). Soon American-led U.N. forces arrive in South Korea at Incheon. The battle of Pyongyang follows shortly thereafter, and casualties are heavy on both sides. During the battle, Jin-tae captures an important North Korean captain (Choi Min-sik) and is finally awarded with the medal.
As the unit continue north, they see the aftermath of a few massacres. On one patrol, the unit encounters a group of North Korean soldiers hiding in a tunnel and one of them turns out to be Yong-seok. Jin-tae and the others want to execute them. Instead, the group are taken as prisoners of war. Yong-seok speaks with Jin-seok, telling him about events at home. Soon China enters the war on the communist side. Yong-seok is killed in a crossfire by Jin-tae when some prisoners make a stand with a hostage. On their way home Jin-tae gets his medal and Young-shin along with Jin-seok is captured and taken by the anti-communist militias. After Jin-seok escapes from a guard and Jin-tae tries to hold the anti-communists back from killing Young-shin, it is discovered she signed up for the communist Workers' Party of Korea. A chaotic attempt by prisoners is made to escape. During the struggle, Young-shin is shot and killed by anti-communist militias, and the brothers are arrested for trying to rescue her. Jin-seok cries out as Young-shin's body thrown into the trench along with the other previously executed prisoners. In the jail, Jin-seok quietly mocks Jin-tae for Young-shin's death. Jin-tae is later brought in for questioning by a security commander. His request to release his brother is refused, and a Chinese artillery strike takes place. The security commander then orders the prison to be set on fire where Jin-seok is being held. Trying to rescue his brother, Jin-tae loses his consciousness in the artillery strike and wakes up to mistakenly believe his brother died in the fire. He brutally kills the security commander by bludgeoning him to death just before he is restrained by Chinese soldiers.
In truth, Jin-seok had been transferred to a military hospital, after barely escaping the burning cell, and being saved by a soldier nicknamed Uncle Yang. However, Jin-seok was shot in the escape. Uncle Yang also brings a letter that Jin-tae wrote, and says that Jin-tae was never found but he doubts Jin-tae deserted. When Uncle Yang hands Jin-seok the letter, Jin-seok is apathetic towards both the letter and his brother's uncertain fate. However, the next day, he learns from two South Korean military officers that his brother had defected to the North Koreans. Afterward, he reads Jin-tae's letter to their mother and is brought to tears. He immediately rejoins the army to fight at the 38th parallel, but is denied permission to fight. Jin-seok escapes his camp and runs to the North Korean site, surrendering to them and claiming that he is Jin-tae's brother; Jin-tae is now the leader of an elite North Korean unit. They send him with an escort to validate his claim, but the North Koreans are attacked by South Korean forces and American warplanes, and Jin-seok's guards are killed by an American fighter plane. Jin-seok fights his way through the soldiers before the feared North Korean Infantry Unit known as "Flag Unit", commanded by Jin-tae, arrives to reinforce the North Korean lines. The appearance of Flag Unit turns the tables and forces the South Koreans to retreat.
After killing a few South Korean soldiers and not recognizing his own brother, an enraged Jin-tae tries to kill Jin-seok. The two fight while Jin-seok begs his brother to recognize him. When Jin-tae is about to shoot him, he is wounded by a bayonet strike. Jin-seok tries to carry him off the battlefield, but is wounded himself as well. Jin-tae finally recognizes his brother. Jin-seok refuses to retreat without Jin-tae, but he convinces him to leave, promising that he will meet him back at home. Jin-tae presents Jin-seok a silver pen which Jin-seok had owned, but was retrieved by Jin-tae at the site of the burnt jail; it was a gift from Jin-tae earlier, in hopes of sending Jin-seok to a university. Jin-seok refuses it and gives it back to Jin-tae, requesting in tears to give it back to him when they would meet again. Jin-tae promises this and also promises to finish the shoes he was making for Jin-seok when he went back, and sends Jin-seok off. The wounded Jin-seok retreats while Jin-tae holds off the wave of Chinese and North Korean infantry with a Maxim machine gun; providing cover for his brother and the retreating South Koreans. KPA and PVA forces finally kill Jin-tae in a barrage of bullets. Jin-tae gives one last look at his desperately fleeing brother before, with a look of satisfaction from saving his brother, he dies on the battlefield.
In 2003, the elderly man is at the excavation site, and is revealed to be Jin-seok. He examines Jin-tae's dug-up items, including the long-lost silver pen, and begs his brother's skeletal remains to speak to him, quoting their promises made on the battlefield, as his granddaughter looks on with sympathy. It is ironic that the silver pen ends up in the possession of Jin-seok in this sequence where he reunites with the remains of his brother, Jin-tae, as the last time he saw his brother alive Jin-tae had promised to return the pen to Jin-seok.
The film then returns to the past, the 1950s, ending in the aftermath of the Korean War. Jin-seok returns to his mother, and sees the shoes his brother actually finished, and then heads off with Young-shin's younger siblings in a peaceful Seoul. He reassures them that he will return to school, thereby fulfilling the promise he made to Jin-tae.
- Jang Dong-gun as Lee Jin-tae
- Won Bin as Lee Jin-seok, Jin-tae's brother
- Lee Eun-joo as Kim Young-shin, Jin-tae's fiance
- Choi Min-sik as North Korean commander
- Jo Yun-hie as Lee Jin-seok's granddaughter
At the 50th Asia Pacific Film Festival, Taegukgi won the "Best Film" award, while Kang Je-gyu was awarded the "Best Director". It was one of four Korean movies screened at the 2006 International Fajr Film Festival in Iran. At the 2004 Grand Bell Awards, the main awards for film in South Korea, Taegukgi won three technical awards, for art direction, cinematography and sound effects.
According to the numbers at Box Office Mojo, Taegukgi earned 64.8 million in South Korea, $1.1 million in the United States playing in limited release and $68.7 million overall worldwide, to finish as the 75th highest grossing film in the world in 2004. In addition to its record-breaking reception in South Korea, the film has also achieved positive responses abroad. It currently holds a fresh rating of 80 percent at Rotten Tomatoes. Most positive reviews cite its unflinching portrayal of war and praise it for showing the brutality of both the North and South Korean armies. The film is also recommended by the War Nerd Gary Brecher.
Awards and nominations
|2004||Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Film||Taegukgi||Nominated|
|Best Director||Kang Je-gyu||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Jang Dong-gun||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor||Kong Hyung-jin||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Hong Kyung-pyo||Won|
|Best Music||Lee Dong-Jun||Nominated|
|Best Art Direction||Shin Bo-kyeong||Nominated|
|Best Visual Effects||Won|
|Best Screenplay||Kang Je-gyu, Han Ji-hun, Kim Sang-don||Nominated|
|Grand Bell Awards||Best Cinematography||Hong Kyung-pyo||Won|
|Best Art Direction||Shin Bo-kyeong||Won|
|Best Sound Effects||Lee Taekyu, Kim Suk-won||Won|
|Paeksang Arts Awards||Best Film||Won|
|2005||Asia Pacific Film Festival||Best Film||Taegukgi||Won|
|Best Director||Kang Je-gyu||Won|
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The music was composed by Dong-jun Lee, and released on February 23, 2004 as a single CD, produced by Yejeon Media in Korea and Avex Trax in Japan. It has 25 tracks, with seven bonus tracks, including a solo piano and chamber ensemble arrangement of the main theme. The "haunting" main theme's lyricism, present throughout several of the tracks, was compared favorably to music of film score composers Ennio Morricone and John Williams. Although it was received generally positively, one critic argued that the film was tragic enough already, and needed "a more subtle soundtrack."
- Cinema of Korea
- Contemporary culture of South Korea
- List of films set in or about North Korea
- Korean War
- List of historical drama films of Asia
- Goyang Geumjeong Cave Massacre
- Namyangju Massacre
- The film was filmed and produced in 2003, and a character in the film mentions that it has been fifty years since the end of the Korean War, which ended in 1953.
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2008)|
- Internet Movie Database Asia Pacific Film Festival 2005 Awards
- "Taegukgi OST". YesAsia. 2004. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- "Taegukgi Soundtrack". KoreaPop. 2004. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- "Taegukgi Hwinalrimyeo". Soundtrack Collector. 2004. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- Larson, Randy (2004). "Brotherhood of War, The (Tae Guk Gi)". Music From the Movies. Archived from the original on 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- Cornelius, David (2005-02-18). "Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War". eFilmCritic. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- Marchant, Tim (2005-06-02). "Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo (2004)". Movie Gazette. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- Official website
- Taegukgi at the Internet Movie Database
- Taegukgi at AllRovi
- Taegukgi at Rotten Tomatoes
- Taegukgi at Metacritic
- Taegukgi at Box Office Mojo
- Review at koreanfilm.org
|Top box office of Korea
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