The Unforgiven (2005 film)

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The Unforgiven
Film poster
Directed by Yoon Jong-bin
Produced by Yoon Jong-bin
Written by Yoon Jong-bin
Starring Ha Jung-woo
Seo Jang-won
Cinematography Kim Byung-chul
Edited by Kim Woo-il
A&D Pictures
Distributed by Chungeorahm
Release date
  • 18 November 2005 (2005-11-18)
Running time
121 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean

The Unforgiven (Hangul용서받지 못한 자; RRYongseobadji mothan ja) is a 2005 South Korean drama film directed by Yoon Jong-bin.

Turning painful experiences of his own compulsory military service into a narrative of three young men, director Yoon presses the hot-button issue of military service in contemporary South Korea. Yoon's controversial exposé of psychological and physical violence within the ranks stimulated a national dialogue on the subject.[1][2] As this is a South Korean film, family names are placed first.


Lee Seung-young is a new recruit in the South Korean military who finds that his commanding officer, Sergeant Yoo Tae-jeong is an old school friend. Yoo looks after Lee, and tries to help the stubborn and contrary youngster adjust to the strict hierarchies and harshness of military life. As time passes, Lee's resistance wears down, and he finds himself understanding, and even becoming more like the superior officers he previously struggled against. Matters come to a head when he is given command of Heo Ji-hoon, a slovenly newcomer whose constant incompetence tests Lee's patience, and eventually forces him to act.[3]


  • Ha Jung-woo as Yoo Tae-jeong
  • Seo Jang-won as Lee Seung-young
  • Yoon Jong-bin as Heo Ji-hoon
  • Lim Hyun-sung as Soo-dong
  • Han Sung-chun as Dae-seok
  • Sohn Sang-bum as Young-il
  • Kim Sung-mi as Ji-hye
  • Joo Hyun-woo as Senior 1
  • Park Min-kwan as Sergeant
  • Seo Jung-joon as Casher
  • Kim Byung-joon as Drunken Man
  • Lee Hye-min as Soo-hyun


The Unforgiven was a feature-length graduation thesis film from director Yoon Jong-bin, then an undergraduate in Chung-Ang University film school. Despite its rough edges due to technical limitations and a low budget, the film was a smash hit at the 2005 Busan International Film Festival and won the following awards: Best Korean Feature, Most Popular Film in the New Currents section, FIPRESCI, and NETPAC ("for its critical reflection on 'masculinity', not only in South Korea or the military, but in contemporary society in general").[4] This generated wide publicity for the film, giving it a chance to be shown at respectable arthouse theaters in Seoul. Unfortunately, director Yoon found himself the object of litigation by the Defense Department, when the film turned out to be a far cry from the heartwarming "story of friendship inside the barracks" the Defense Department had apparently read in screenplay form, before they granted Yoon permission to shoot his film inside the authentic living quarters. Yoon acknowledged his act of deception and stated that he will accept the appropriate punishment.[5]

Not only does the film deal with the difficult and formerly taboo subject of mandatory military service in South Korea, but it does so with an admirable level of thoughtfulness and honesty. describes the film's last scene as "one of the most painfully honest renderings of young Korean men seen in a Korean film, whose souls are eaten away by the price they paid for having 'adjusted' themselves to become good soldiers and upstanding 'real men'. The Unforgiven is a must-see for anyone who seeks to gain insight into the inner psychology of South Korean men, and a stupendously promising debut for yet another talented Korean filmmaker."[5]

The film also screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.[6]


  1. ^ Cagle, Robert (2007). "A Conversation with Director Yoon Jong-bin" (PDF). Asian Educational Media Service. 
  2. ^ "The Unforgiven: Q&A Session with Film Director YOON Jong-bin". Asian Educational Media Service. 29 September 2006. 
  3. ^ Mudge, James (27 February 2006). "The Unforgiven (2005) Movie Review". Beyond Hollywood. 
  4. ^ Paquet, Darcy (19 November 2005). "2005 Pusan International Film Festival Report". Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  5. ^ a b Kim, Kyu Hyun. "The Unforgiven". Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  6. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The Unforgiven". Retrieved 2009-12-16. 

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