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2011/China/Director: Hun Jang/133 min.
Cast: Shin Ha-kyun, Ko Soo, Lee Je-hun, Kim Ok-vin (Language: Korean and English with English subtitles)
Festivals and Awards: Pusan
Set in South Korea just days before the 1953 cease fire of the Korean War, “The Front Line” is a poignant anti-war film that delves into the limitations of humanity during wartime. It forces viewers everywhere to question which should take precedence: dedication to one’s country or to one’s conscience?
Officer Kang Eun-pyo of the C.I.C. (Counter Intelligence Corps) is faced with such a question when he is sent to investigate the suspicious death of the commander of Alligator Company on the fated Aerok Hill. The infamous hill was fought for and conquered by both sides more than 30 times during the war. It is a symbol of the senseless yet intimate brutality that officers of the North and South faced while their leaders commanded them from afar.
Eun-pyo meets officer Ko Soo, the anti-authority figure in the Company whose courage inspires the men to follow him into every battle, and the acting captain, Shin Il-young, a morphine addict who tries to stave off the physical and mental pain of combat.
Eun-pyo connects with these officers of Alligator Company, and he uncovers the secrets of what really goes on during the seemingly ceaseless battles for the hill. But most importantly, he learns that for every officer the goal is not only to survive the war but to somehow hold on to a small piece of their own humanity even if it means blatantly breaking the rules of war.