Director : Kang Jae-kyu
Starring : Jnag Dong-geon, Won Bin
Location Sites : screeening sets in Yongju-myeon, Hapcheon-gun, Kyeongsangnam-do and Mt. Hwangmae
<Taegeukgi>(Taegukgi Hwinallimyeo) released in 2003, was directed by Jegyu Kang, who established his career as an influential director after making major films such as <The Gingko Bed>(Eunhaengnamu chimdae) and <Swiri>(Swiri). Director Kang contributed to bringing forth Korean blockbusters in the domestic film market, and in fact, started the trend with his blockbuster film, <The Gingko Bed> (Eunhaengnamu chimdae). This trend, however, soon fizzled out because of successive box office failures and unoriginal films that were mere copies of Hollywood films. Afterwards, Korean cinema focused more on artistic aspects of film than on the amount of money spent. So-called 'well-made' films proved to have box-office power and Korean blockbusters began to disappear. In 2003, however, another Korean blockbuster, titled <Taegeukgi>(Taegukgi Hwinallimyeo), was put to the test.
<Taegeukgi> is a story about two brothers who are forcibly drafted during the Korean War. With its enormous production cost of 14.8 billion won, it scored big with 10 million viewers and together with the 2004 film <Silmido>(Silmido), proved the audience-drawing potential of Korean film. At the same time, film exports increased and Korean films began to receive positive responses overseas in Japan, Europe, America and elsewhere.
In June, 1950. on Jongno street, Seoul, Jintae (Jang Donggeon) leads a hopeful life taking care of his family. In spite of the harsh reality, he is happily devoted to his daily work with hopes of marrying his fiancee Yeongsin (Lee Eunju) and sending his brother Jinseok (Won Bin) to college, whom he deeply cherishes and loves. One day in June, the city, once peaceful, is thrown into complete chaos with a flood of sirens, blasts, and people's screams. The Korean War has begun! Jintae decides to join the southward procession of refugees with Yeongsin and his family, but he gets trapped in a giant throng of people who are gathered in front of Daegu train station lining up for the refugee train. Meanwhile, Jinseok, captured by soldiers, is dragged to join the military train, and Jintae jumps in to get him back, but ends up going with him. Jintae and Jinseok, who have been abruptly placed on the bloody battlefield, are dispatched to their first real battle at the Nakdong River defense line, the last stronghold against the oncoming North Korean troops and Jintae meets the commander to ask for his brother's release.
During his conversation with the commander, Jintae realizes what he must to do for his brother's survival and commits himself to become a valiant soldier to protext his brother during battle. Thanks to Jintae's splendid achievements on the battlefield, the Korean army succeeds in safeguarding the Nakdong defense line, and, after hearing of the successful amphibious landing of U.S. troops at the strategic port of Incheon, the South Korean Army begins to proceed north. Among the troops making the seemingly victorious northward military march to Pyeongyang are the two brothers: Jintae, who has fought only for the sake of his brother's well-being without any patriotism or ideological conviction, and Jinseok, who has finally realized he must become stronger in order to survive. A fateful trap, however, lies in wait for the brothers.
Location of Shooting
Filming began for <Taegeukgi>(Taegukgi Hwinallimyeo) on February 10, 2004 and was shot on many different sites including Daegwanryeong, Busan, and Namweon. Among the locations, the scenes shot in Hapcheon make up more than one-third of the total film. The first battle at the Nakdong and the street battles in Pyeongyang were all shot in the Hapcheon area. The street fighting scenes consisted of a set that was 20,000 pyeong wide that was provided by the town government. The set still exists with an exhibition of items that were used in the movie including the steam train, weapons, clothes, and so forth. According to the Hapcheon's Department of Culture and Tourism, the set is preserved as a site for survival games as well as for exploring aspects of the film; it is to be used as a location site for other movies in the future. Most recently, <Rikidosan>(Yukdosan) and <Family>(Gajok) were filmed using the set.
Other sites include Mt. Hwangmae and Mt. Gaya in Hapcheon. Both the Nakdong defense line and the Dumilryeong battle scenes were filmed at the top of Mt. Hwangmae; the scenes where the two brothers hold a memorial service and play by the waterside were filmed in the valley of Daebyeong-myeon, Hapcheon.
The set, located at Gahori, Yongju-myeon, is about 20 minutes away from downtown Hapcheon. The name of the town, Huiho, means "beautiful lake" ('hui' means "beautiful," 'ho' means "lake"). It was called such long before the Hapcheon dam was built, and the town originally had nothing to do with a lake. After the dam was built, the town literally became a village next to a lake, so residents claim that the name originated there from long ago and it became quite prophetic. The dam is about a 10-minute walk from the set.
Take the 88 Highway, pass Geochang IC, and take the No. 26 National Highway and then No.24 National Highway, which leads to downtown Hapcheon. From downtown, go toward Namjeong Bridge. Then turn right and drive 15 more kilometers to find the set.
Mt. Hwangmae, where the 48-day long bloody battle scene was shot, dips its waist in the blue Hapcheon lake with its three peaks - a high, middle, and low peak - rising above the water, looking like three maewha blossoms with their stems immersed in the water. The mountain is also famous forazalea and royal azalea flowers in the spring, a cool valley in summer, and white snow and harsh winds at Independence peak in winter. Nor far away are the Hapcheon dam resort and Haein Temple, which is known for the famous Tripitaka Koreana.