71: Into the Fire

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71: Into the Fire
71 Into the Fire.jpg
Teaser poster
Hanja 속으로
Revised RomanizationPohwa sogeuro
McCune–ReischauerPohwa sokŭro
Directed byJohn H. Lee (Lee Jae-han)
Produced byChoi Myeong-gi
Jeong Tae-won
Written byLee Man-hee
Kim Dong-woo
John H. Lee
Jeong Tae-won
StarringCha Seung-won
Kwon Sang-woo
Choi Seunghyun (T.O.P)
Kim Seung-woo
Music byLee Dong-joon
CinematographyChoi Chan-min
Edited byChoi Min-yeong
Kim Chang-joo
Taewon Entertainment
Distributed byLotte Entertainment
Release date
  • June 16, 2010 (2010-06-16)
Running time
120 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
Box officeUS$42.1 million[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.


South Korean student Oh Jang-beom is a volunteer militia soldier in a battle inside Yeongdeok, North Gyeongsang Province during the Korean War, serving as an ammunition and litter bearer under the charge of regular army Captain Kang Suk-dae. As the city is overrun by the North Korean forces of the elite 766th Unit, 5th Division, North Korean People's Army, he is pulled into a squad of South Korean soldiers led by Lieutenant Kim Jun-Seop attempting escape. However, the unit is eventually cut down to only Lt. Kim and Jang-Beom. A North Korean suddenly shoots and bayonets the lieutenant; Jang-beom, due to his inexperience and terror, is unable to save him. They are found by other South Koreans, and barely get aboard one of the last trucks out of the town to a hospital in Pohang, where Lt. Kim dies with a guilt-ridden Jang-beom at his side.

Capt. Kang orders Jang-beom to lead a newly-raised student-soldier unit, as he is one of only three of the volunteers with combat experience, and all the regular soldiers are needed at the Nakdong River in the impending battle at the Pusan Perimeter. The unit is joined by three young criminals led by Ku Kap-jo, who challenges Jang-beom's command, and cause trouble by accidentally destroying the students' food supply. Later, while patrolling, they are attacked by a North Korean sniper. They impulsively give chase, and the sniper leads them into an ambush. The students suffer heavy casualties before disengaging. During the shootout, Jang-beom and Kap-Jo encounter a North Korean child soldier, whom Kap-jo kills over Jang-Beom's orders to spare him. The students' morale is decimated by the disastrous encounter. The students' call for aid to Capt. Kang is fruitless, as Capt. Kang and the regular forces are pinned at the Nakdong. Kang pleads with his superiors to help the students, but they refuse to divert resources from the critical Pusan front. They do, however, allow Kang to go, and he gathers vehicles and a small force of South Korean soldiers to relieve the school.

One of the student-soldiers, Dal-Young, is captured by the 766th Unit and is interrogated by Major Park Mu-Rang, a 766th officer. Being a father, Mu-Rang takes pity on the student and orders his return to the school, going there himself to assess the students' strength. There, he tells Jang-Beom that he and his men will, in 2 hours, capture the school, and offers to spare the defenders' lives if they raise a white flag in those two hours. Kap-Jo beats Dal-young and fights Jang-beom before deserting with a friend, Chang-wu, for the Pusan Perimeter. Shortly after leaving, the two encounter a North Korean truck filled with supplies and weapons, stuck in a road.

The remaining students prepare to defend the school under Jang-beom's leadership, raising not a white flag but the South Korean national flag, while Major Park makes his own preparations for the assault. When the attack begins, the students are able to inflict devastating casualties on the North Koreans, but the attackers are too many and far superior in quality, and the students are forced back. Suddenly, the North Korean supply truck roars in, driven by Chang-wu and Kap-jo, carving their way through the North Koreans, killing many and halting their attack as well as bringing valuable heavy weapons to the students.

The North Koreans deploy a tank. Under its cover, the 766th's men reach the school building and kill off most of the students. During a lull, Jang-Beom and Kap-Jo shelter in a classroom. and the two reconcile their differences. The two students then fight their way through the North Koreans inside the building to the roof of the building, where the others have fitted machine-guns. By now, almost all of the student-soldiers, including Jang-beom's veteran friends from Yongdeok, Dal-young the captured student, and Chang-wu, Kap-jo's fellow criminal, are dead. On the roof, Jang-beom and Kap-jo try to hold back the North Koreans.

Just as Jang-beom and Kap-jo run out of ammunition, Capt. Kang and the South Koreans arrive. They destroy the North Korean tank and steadily defeat the North Korean infantry in the school grounds. At the roof, as Jang-beom collapses from exhaustion and his wounds, Major Park bursts onto the roof and kills Kap-jo. While Park gloats, Jang-beom quietly loads his rifle with a round that he had previously failed to save Lt. Kim with at Yeongdeok, and shoots Park just as Park also shoots him; the Major is later killed by Capt. Kang. Jang-Beom dies from his wounds as Kang comforts him.

It is revealed that of the 71 students, 48 died defending the school. The movie ends with a flashback, with an Army photographer taking a group picture of the student-soldiers before the regular troops leave for Pusan, and the surviving student-soldier veterans, now old, reflect on their experiences.


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]



External links[edit]