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TAE GUK GI-The Brotherhood of War

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TAE GUK GI-The Brotherhood of War
  • Je-Kyu Kang's 2004 film, Tae Guk Gi, is the story of two brothers' struggles with changes and ideals in their lives and in their country, all played out while fighting a brutal, and I mean BRUTAL series of battles in the Korean War. The film begins with the younger of the two, Jin-seok, now an old man, receiving word that human remains have been unearthed in a long ago battlefield that may be his brother's. In fact, officials believe the remains are his own and we quickly realize that a mistake has been made regarding the identity of the bones.
    We then flashback to days before the Korean War breaks out and begin to learn how the two brothers were forced to serve in the South Korean army and see the anguish of the family that they are torn apart from. We are then taken through what I believe is a fairly accurate dramatization of the horrors of battle and the difficult and brutal decisions and actions that one must sometimes be faced with in war. As the brothers serve out their time, their morals and values morph to the point where they, at one time, are fighting on different sides of the war, and in fact, against each other.

I'll be honest. This film, although excellent, was really difficult to watch at times. I can't recall seeing a film that was so graphic, in terms of violence. The special effects are brilliant, almost too brilliant. I would totally recommend you watch Tae Guk Gi (I got it from Netflix), but as far as showing it in the classroom, you would have to focus on scenes showing the relationship between the brothers, for example, and stay away from the actual battle scenes. Those would be far too violent for high school content. But you could definitely talk about the universal themes of family, country, and sacrifice.