6.7/10
663
6 user 13 critic

Poong-san-gae (2011)

Not Rated | | Action, Drama, Romance | 23 June 2011 (South Korea)
A young man crosses over North and South Korea to deliver the pain and longings of separated families.

Director:

Jai-hong Juhn

Writer:

Ki-duk Kim
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Cast

Credited cast:
Kye-Sang Yoon Kye-Sang Yoon ... Poongsan (as Kye Sang Yoon)
Jong-soo Kim Jong-soo Kim ... North Korea defect executive
Han Gi-Joong Han Gi-Joong ... Section chief
Moo-Seong Choi Moo-Seong Choi ... Team leader
Ha-bok Yu Ha-bok Yu ... North Korea executive
Yong-geun Bae ... Wolf
Jeong-seok Kim Jeong-seok Kim ... Hit team 1
Jae-ryong Cho Jae-ryong Cho ... Hit team 2 (as Jo Jae-Ryong)
Nak-jun Lee Nak-jun Lee ... Hit team 3
Yeong-Hoon Kim Yeong-Hoon Kim ... Hit team 4
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Gyu-ri Kim ... In-ok
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Storyline

Poongsan has the unenviable - and death-defying - job of delivering messages across the North and South Korean border to separated families. When South Korean government agents ask him to smuggle in In-ok, the lover of a high-ranking North Korean defector, into the South, the damsel and rescuer fall in love instead. Written by Stanislav S, Sochi, Russia

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The one with no fear and no borders

Genres:

Action | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

South Korea

Language:

Korean

Release Date:

23 June 2011 (South Korea) See more »

Also Known As:

Poongsan See more »

Filming Locations:

Seoul, South Korea

Company Credits

Production Co:

Kim Ki-Duk Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in Bulg-eun gajog (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Non-stereotypical Feature, which explores Love and Hate and the Boundaries that Separate Both
7 April 2015 | by totalovrdoseSee all my reviews

Although Poongsan possesses thematic elements of romance, drama and humor, it is none of these. Poongsan is one of those rare films that some viewers may potentially want to avoid, for it tragically reveals the horrors that exist in the world around us. Though other films provide viewers with entertainment, Poongsan drags us into a bloody world of poignant realism and painful drama, where men and women are brutally tortured, for no other reason than because they happen to reside on the opposite side of a fence separating their countries. It's a film, where North Korean 'traitors' are force fed expensive items, where South Koreans execute spies without remorse, and where love is so easily devoured by the all consuming hatred that surrounds opposing nations.

Although obviously produced on a budget, everything in the feature is brilliantly used to great effect. Many of the film's settings are either only partially seen, or filmed under the cover of night, accentuating the haunting darkness of the film. However, this doesn't take away from the barren wasteland that depicts North Korea, or the South's contrast: a westernized utopia, corrupting all with its influential privileges.

An unnamed stranger, identified only by the Poongsan cigarettes he smokes, travels covertly between the borders of North and South Korea. He takes messages of love from the South, to their families in the North, and occasionally returns with messages, items, and sometimes, people. Yoon Kye-Sang is perfect in this role. He never speaks, but superbly conveys his emotions through facial gesture, one of the film's most powerful scenes conveying the moment he reveals his heart.

Though set in chronological order, the film quickly skips forward: one moment, characters are naked, swimming in a river, next second, they're fully clothed and on land. This deliberate strategy, utilized so the film can urgently tell its story, potentially provides reason as to how the stranger can be horrifically injured one moment, and yet athletically capable the next. Fight scenes, despite being well choreographed, are not only few in number and short-lived, but occasionally unrealistic: vaulting over a fence is just one example where the audience's disbelief is in need of temporary suspension, and the way Northerners, and those from the South, are able to slip across the border with ease, potentially demonstrates a flaw in the system.

When a South Korean section chief (Han Ki-Joong) finds evidence that corroborates the existence of the unidentified stranger, he and his team track him down for a job. A defector from the North (Kim Jong-Soo) desperately wishes to see his wife, In-OK (Kim Gyu-Ri), who still resides on the other side of the border, in exchange to provide further information to the South. Once reunited with her husband, In-OK, who experiences difficulty acclimatising to the environment, discovers her husband is a changed man. Greedy, arrogant, jealous and violent, In-OK's heart quickly changes allegiances, instead belonging to the man who extracted her.

Occasional poetic language is supported not only by the visuals, which are capable of articulating metaphoric symbolism, but by the soundtrack, which encapsulates the emotions experienced in its accompanying moments. One particular vocal serenade, produced over the body of a deceased lover, is especially effective. With all the pain the film articulates, it's difficult to imagine how humor could be used, often articulating the ridiculousness of the confrontation the South and the North are caught between, while discussing how people on one side of the border die of starvation, while those on the opposing side grow fat on money and resources. In one instance, a South Korean spy, who proclaims his love for the North, is asked by his Northern torturer why he loves the country, because not even the torturer is capable of doing so.

Over the course of the feature I personally didn't cry, however, during the credits, everything the film had explored inexplicably hit me at once, and I found myself unable to stem the tears as I wondered 'what's the point?' I don't give Poongsan a 10 with ease, for it's a film that is seldom entertaining, and even during moments of beauty, these are marred by decadence. However, this feature does what so few fail to do these days: it tells the truth.


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