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Taegukgi hwinalrimyeo (2004)
Alothough I have not seen this film I was in South Korea for it's release and was able to observe the effect it had on the Korean people. Essentially this film shows the horrors of a senseless war, a war that literally pitted brother against brother to achieve nothing. The North and South parts of Korea have been in a cold-war style stand off ever since and while successive governments on both sides refuse to take peace talks seriously the man on the street(s of either part of Korea) believes that the country should be united again.
It is seriously worrying to the Koreans as a whole that a conflict in which over 3 million lives were lost can become the "forgotten war" and that successive governments can profit financially from perpetuating a farcical situation that has the potential for nuclear holocaust.
The south Korean perception of recent history is strongly influenced by US films, in fact an intelligent Korean friend of mine had no idea that Britian was involved in World War 2 as he had only seen US made war films. Despite this there is a unanimous feeling among the populace that Korea deserves to be whole again and that families can live together in peace. As the generation that fought the war dies off they wish to reconcile with their family over the border.
It is important to note that the continuation of the situation is largely due to American interference. I know this sounds clichéd and Michael Mooreish, but it's true. The division of the country first occurred as a result of the US lead fight against communism through the 50's. The cold war then got tense and a heavily militarised border developed between the two countries. Amazingly enough a large part of the South Korean military budget (of several billion US$) goes straight to US based companies (notably Armalite, makers of the M-16 rifle and the guys that make Hummvee). !So now we know why North Korea is on Bush's axis of evil list! Taegukgi is an attempt to record the horror and stupidity of the Korean war before the generation that fought it disappears. I sincerely hope that unlike Private Ryan this film can depict a war without leaving the audience believing that war is honourable or sane. To Korea the battle wounds are still raw, this film is a lesson to the youth and an attempt at healing.
"those who ignore the mistakes of history are destined to repeat them"