71: Into the Fire

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71: Into the Fire
71 Into the Fire.jpg
Teaser poster
Hanja 속으로
Revised Romanization Pohwa sogeuro
McCune–Reischauer Pohwa sokŭro
Directed by John H. Lee (Lee Jae-han)
Produced by Choi Myeong-gi
Jeong Tae-won
Written by Lee Man-hee
Kim Dong-woo
John H. Lee
Jeong Tae-won
Starring Cha Seung-won
Kwon Sang-woo
Choi Seunghyun (T.O.P)
Kim Seung-woo
Music by Lee Dong-joon
Cinematography Choi Chan-min
Edited by Choi Min-yeong
Kim Chang-joo
Taewon Entertainment
Distributed by Lotte Entertainment
Release dates
  • June 16, 2010 (2010-06-16)
Running time
120 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean
Box office $20,967,660[1]

71: Into the Fire (Korean: 포화 속으로) is a 2010 South Korean war drama film directed by John H. Lee. 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 the local P'ohang girls' middle school, a strategic point for safeguarding the struggling Nakdong River perimeter, from an attack by overwhelming North Korean forces, specifically the feared 766th Unit.

These 71 teenagers, most of whom had never fired 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.

Oh Jang-Beom, a volunteer militia student-soldier 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. As the city is later overrun with North Korean troops, he is grabbed by Lieutenant Kim Jun-Seop and pulled behind a building to hide with him and his platoon. They move through the alleyways where they run into North Koreans attacking from both ends of the narrow alley. Eventually all were killed except for Kim, 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, who charges and stabs him with his bayonet and pins him to a wall. Jang-Beom, mortified, searches his pockets for a rifle round, but is unable to kill the North Korean due to his fright. Another South Korean unit shows up and kills the North Korean soldier, and they help the wounded officer to a field hospital in Pohang. Feeling guilty, Jang-Beom stays with the commander, and tries to comfort him, but he soon dies from loss of blood and his wounds. He puts the bloody rifle round which could have saved the officer into his pocket and keeps it as a memento.

Oh Jang-beom is later forced into becoming the leader of a student-soldier unit, as he is one of only three of the students who has combat experience, and all regular soldiers are needed at the Nakdong River. One night, they repel a group of North Koreans from the 766th Unit, 5th Division, North Korean People's Army. Oh Jang-beom kills one of the North Koreans. 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 fire from a North Korean sniper. They pursue the sniper, who leads them to a field, where a trap is waiting. The students are ambushed and massacred, suffering heavy casualties. Oh Jang-beom and several other students survive. A student soldier, Gu Kap-Jo, personally stabs a commando to death, while his fellow students fight on in a one sided battle. They run into a young North Korean child soldier, and Gu Kap-Jo kills him, ignoring Oh Jang-Beom's orders not to shoot. 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. Later, a student soldier, Dal-Young, is captured by the North Koreans while patrolling and is interrogated for information about the schools' defense. Park Mu-Rang, a high-ranking North Korean officer commanding the 766th, enters the tent where he is being interrogated. 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 would occupy the 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. Kap-Jo is angered by Dal-Young's agreement with the North Koreans, and the two fight for a short time, being interrupted by Yong-Bae, who,out of mercy, had just killed his younger brother, who was mortally wounded in the ambush. 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.

The other students decide to come together to defend the school, and bolster their defenses. The North Korean military Commander instructs his army to set up a line of defense 1km from the school and wait for the signal to attack then. Oh Jang-beom prepares the students for the attack. They figure out how to fire a mortar (by kicking it) and alert the Communists that they are ready. The students inflict massive casualties on the Communists with several organized attacks. However, the North Korean forces are too many in number and are far better armed and trained, and they quickly overwhelm the students. After the North Korean forces have taken most of the school, Oh Jang-Beom orders the rest of the students inside the building. As all hope seems lost at this point, the supply truck Kap-Jo and Chang-Wu encountered from before comes in from the side of the North Koreans. 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 Kap-Jo continues providing cover fire. 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 school building. Oh Jang-Beom and Gu Kap-Jo make their way into a classroom and rest and talk for a while, as they've 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 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, and defend their position there, killing many 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. At this point, nearly all the students except for Oh Jang-Beom and Kap-Jo are dead.

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, knocking him back momentarily. Kap-Jo is also shot and wounded. Kap-Jo stands up and continues to fight alongside Oh Jang-Beom and they kill the remaining soldiers on the roof.

At the same time, Cpt. Kang Suk-Dae and his South Korean reinforcements arrive at the school, and begin to clear the area of the North Koreans. Afterwards, Jang-Beom collapses from exhaustion. Park Mu-Yang arrives onto the roof, and 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. Despite being mortally wounded, Kap-Jo continues to fight, grabbing his signature knife and attempting to stab Park in the leg. Park then finishes Kap-Jo, before coming to Jang-Beom 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 both simultaneously shoot each other. Both are now bleeding profusely, and Park becomes enraged and points his gun at Jang-Beom again when Cpt. Kang appears from behind and shoots Park, 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.

Out of 71 students, a total of 48 were killed defending the school. The surviving student soldiers, with South Korean troops, take a group picture of the student-soldier company.


Production and release[edit]

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[2]), and finished on April 13, 2010.

The movie opened in South Korean theaters on June 16, 2010. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray by Cine Asia on March 14, 2011.


During its theatrical run, the film drew 3,358,960 admissions at the box office, making it the fifth highest grossing film of 2010.[3]



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