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Film / Joint Security Area

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Joint Security Area (JSA) is a film by acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-wook and starring Lee Byung-hun, Song Kang-ho, and Lee Young Ae. It centered around an investigation by United Nations officials of a fatal shooting incident that occurred in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. When released, it was the highest-grossing Korean film of all time.

The film contains examples of:

  • Anachronic Order: The movie starts after the shoot-out has taken place, then in its middle tells the story behind it and eventually takes up the first narrative level.
  • Anti-Villain: Kyeong-pil is a Type 1 "Noble" kind. He has no regrets about supporting this rigid, cruel regime, and is loyal to President Kim, but he has no regrets about the situation either. He grows to love Soo-hyeok like a brother, and goes out of his way to protect him and Sung-shik when the shootout occurs, even when he takes the blame off of killing the commanding officer to save himself.
  • Ate His Gun: After confessing the truth to Major Jean, Soo-Hyeok does this after attacking and disarming his MP escorts. It is implied he did this out of guilt.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Sung-shik, who is initially another unimportant guard; after attempting suicide, he is revealed to have been sneaking over the border too, and to be the second shooter.
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  • Driven to Suicide: Both South Korean soldiers: Sung-shik throws himself out of the window when threatened with a lie-detector test; and Soo-hyeok shoots himself after explaining everything.
  • Faux Fluency: The United Nations investigator unraveling the mystery at the DMZ is a Korean actress who obviously learned her English lines phonetically. Later versions completely dubbed her lines with a native English speaker.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The friendship between the soldiers will end badly.
  • Interrogation Flashback: The film is told largely in flashbacks, with a Framing Device of a UN officer interrogating soldiers involved in a fatal shooting incident at the DMZ.
  • Match Cut: There's one from an umbrella to one of the watchtowers' identically shaped roof.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: When speaking English as Sophie E. Jean, Lee Young-Ae doesn't try to mask her Korean accent even though she's playing a Swiss character.
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  • Overcrank: Done for aesthetic purposes in the shoot-out at the end.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: Though there is also a great deal of additional investigation besides the interrogations.
  • Shown Their Work: With a highly accurate recreation of the Joint Security Area. As of 2015, the JSA set still stands.
  • Take It to the Bridge: The famed "Bridge of No Return".
  • Toilet Humor: Woo-jin farts as a practical joke.
  • Translation Convention: The Swiss and Swedish members of the United Nations stationed in Korea speak English instead of Korean or their native language. A Swiss character of Korean nationality speaks English with a heavy Korean accent rather than a Swiss one.