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The Brotherhood of War Film Review

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The Brotherhood of War Film Review

The film Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War is a great Korean film directed by Kang Je-gyu. This film centers around the heart of the Korean War, and tells the story of two brothers, Jin Tae and Jin Seok, who are refugees in South Korea but get drafted to fight in the war against North Korea. Throughout the film, Jin Tae looks after his younger brother Jin Seok, and does everything he can to make sure he doesn't get killed in battle and wants the best for his younger brother, like for him to attend college since he never did. Jin Tae even goes as far as to make a deal with the general to fight in the more difficult and riskier battles so that his brother Jin Seok is safe (as well as tries to earn a medal for his work in the battles). However, as Jin Tae becomes one of the most successful military soldiers, his persona and mentality change to the worse, so much that Jin Seok and other soldiers do not even know who he is anymore. Jin Seok talks to his brother a few times to confront him about his aggressive changes, but alas, does not change his war mania mentality. The film starts and ends with an older Jin Seok looking at the remains of his brother, and he questions himself why he did not stay with his injured brother the last time he saw him on the battlefield. Quite heartbreaking indeed.

This film is rated R, so as teachers, we would definitely need to get permission slips for students to be able to watch this film due to some of the bloody, gory, and graphic war scenes, and some foul language. I would definitely use several excerpts from this film to introduce the context of the Korean War, and what people's sentiments were prior and during the war. In the opening scenes of the film, it shows a great setting/scene of South Korea, and I would use these clips to allow students to feel what life was like prior to the war, and have them make inferences with their partners about this, and how they think this may change after the war. I would then select different clips from throughout the film to illustrate what the battlefield look likes (ex. trenches, land mines, uniforms with camouflage leaves, hospital beds, etc.) and the conditions that soldiers dealt with (food shortages, starvation, etc.), and have students compare it to other war conditions we have learned about in ancient and modern times. Another aspect that can be discussed with students about this film is the socioemotional roller coaster that both soldiers and their families deal with when separated by war. In the beginning of the film, we see how heartbreaking it is for the brothers to separate from their mother and Jin Tae's fiance, as well as the emotion felt by Jin Seok throughout the film as Jin Tae's personality is impacted by the war. This would definitely be a relevant question to ask students, especially if any of them have family members serving in the armed forces (and to ask them their experience with this).