(Korean Movies) The Front Line, 高地戰, 2011

The Front Line, 高地戰, 2011
Audience over 15
running time
133 minutes
cumulative audience
2945151 people
14th Udine Far East Film Festival 2012


In 1951, the war as we knew it was over
Now all fronts are entering the ‘high ground’ battle!

In February 1953, a bullet from an allied force was found in the body of a company commander who was killed at the Aerok Hill in the forefront of the Eastern Front, which was in the midst of a stalemate in the ceasefire negotiations. The upper management suspects that this incident is related to internal communication with the enemy, and orders Lieutenant Kang Eun-pyo (Shin Ha-kyun) to go to the Eastern Front to investigate. Eun-pyo, who heads to the high ground, meets Kim Soo-hyeok (Ko-su), a friend she thought was dead there. Su-hyeok, a weak student, was promoted from a second lieutenant to a lieutenant within two years and became the de facto leader of a crocodile company. Something is questionable, such as leading the troops as Captain.

A friend who returned alive, the suspicious Crocodile Company. In the midst of all this chaos, Eun-pyo and Soo-hyeok are sent to the operation to retake the hill. However, the new company commander’s unreasonable operation puts him in a huge crisis, and the young but veteran Captain Shin Il-young (Lee Je-hoon) and Lieutenant Su-hyeok escaped the crisis and retreated through a single operation. The company commander, who was dissatisfied with the members of the Crocodile Company who rebelled against his opinions and acted alone in every case, threatened to kill Sgt. Without hesitation, he shoots the company commander. The death of their superiors unfolding in front of their eyes, the men who carelessly conceal it, and the expressionless Soo-hyeok. Eun-pyo is puzzled by the entire company that has become one in an instant.

The past two years gone, to him… to them… What the hell happened?

[ Intro ]

37 months of civil war
Among them, the armistice agreement proceeded under a deadlock on the front lines for two years and two months
4 million deaths in the Korean War
1 million deaths before January 1, 1951 retreat
In June 1951, at the central front centered on the 3.8 Line, rearward negotiations
Concentrate all military forces in the battle for highlands between the two Koreas

The film was filmed 25 months after the front line stalemate in June of 51.
I hope that the war will end without even forgetting why we fight
It is the story of 3 million soldiers on the hill who died fighting.

[ About movie ]

“I wanted to show ‘Gojijeon’ itself well. As soon as you read the script, don’t you already know everything about the Korean War? preconceived notions have disappeared. The difference from previous war movies is that this movie is not a war movie but a battlefield movie. I hope that it will be a film that gives viewers a different kind of sympathy, rather than just being consumed as a spectacle, with the vividness of entering a real battlefield.”
– Director Jang Hoon

“Everyone knows that the Korean War started on June 25, 1950 and ended in July 1953. However, all records end with the January 1, 1951 retreat and armistice agreement. During the two years and two months of the long armistice agreement, there was a huge siege on one side. White Horse Goji is the most famous, but there is no other story. There was no talk of ‘how the Korean War ended’. <Gojijeon> is the story of the end of the Korean War.”
– Writer Park Sang-yeon

A new challenge for Korean war films
It’s not the beginning of June 25, 1950, but the end of July 27, 1953!

It is different from the existing war movies that start with 4 am on a calm Sunday, June 25, 1950…! The movie <Gojijeon> illuminates the last war of the Korean War that we did not know about, another war in a war that has not yet been recorded, starting in the middle of the war. It was a tragic war that recorded the highest number of casualties of 4 million as a single war, not a territorial dispute between states, a 37-month civil war. The fact that 3 million of those 4 million casualties were sacrificed in the ‘Battle for the Highlands’ on the central front in the middle of the armistice negotiations has not been noticed in any war movies so far.

If there were heart-warming dramas in the war that war movies showed, such as the brotherhood of <Taegeukgi Flying> and the friendship of young students in <Into the Fire>, there is ‘Battle of the Highlands’ in the movie <The Battle of the Highlands>. On the brink of a ceasefire, the owner of the hill had to change 3 or 4 times a day for 1 cm of territory, and for a battle that had to endure with human life, the last war in which supplementary troops were constantly put in as much as the number of casualties. In the summer of 2011, the last war that decided the fate of the Korean War, which we did not know, begins.

Chungmuro Blue Chip Director Jang Hoon, Writer Park Sang-yeon, Korea’s top production crew and cast
Their new challenge attracts the most attention!

With the wave of Hollywood blockbuster series and the release of great Korean films, this summer’s high season theaters are just like a battlefield. Among them, the project that the Korean film industry was most curious about was <Gojijeon>. First of all, I took on the original work of <Joint Security Area JSA> with director Jang Hoon, who stood tall as a blue chip in Chungmuro by making a box office hit with a drama that was never obvious in a seemingly obvious situation and structure, creating the foundation for the first successful film to break through the 5 million mark in the 2000s, and recently The meeting of writer Park Sang-yeon, who even took over the small screen with the drama <Queen Seon-deok>, is interesting.

Director Jang Hoon is an existing war film in which war is consumed as entertainment while experiencing ‘a place where it was difficult to climb even on all fours with both hands’ and ‘a place where it was difficult for actors and cameras to freeze and a high altitude where it was difficult to stand for a while’. I was convinced that it had to be different. With this director Jang Hoon’s directorial intention and the ingenuity of Korea’s best production crew and cast members, a special visual unique to <Gojijeon> was born that transcends preconceived notions about war movies that have been fixed after <Saving Private Ryan>. Just as there has never been a movie with the special background of ‘Gojijeon’ as the main stage, there will be no scenes that you’ve seen anywhere in this movie.

No concealment, no cover! If it is stolen today, it will be stolen tomorrow!
A human masterpiece that is stronger than the sound of gunfire and more intense than the smell of gunpowder.

The news that director Jang Hoon, who melts people’s stories in any genre, is making a ‘war movie’, many filmmakers paid attention even before production. In particular, the movie “Battle of the Highlands” does not illuminate the midst of a long-running war, but rather the story left behind in the forefront ‘highlands’ where the war could not be stopped even for a moment after the ceasefire negotiations began in 1951, even when everyone stopped the war. Concentrating on people’s stories, it is expected that a movie will be born that is deeply immersed in ‘humanism’ that is different from the existing ‘war movies’.

A place where the stalemate in which the owners of the highlands change several times a day does not stop, a place where basic common sense such as concealment and cover does not work, a bare mountain with no trees or grass left while repeatedly pushing up and down… A place to hide <Highland Battle>, where you had to push through with your body knowing that you were going to be shot in a place where there is a high probability of death because there is no one. That’s where the heartbreaking drama begins more than any other war movie. In particular, the hidden stories of North and South Korean soldiers who have their own secrets in the isolated space of Godzilla and the constant battle will give a more intense impression than the sound of gunpowder and gunpowder and more intense than the smell of gunpowder.

There is no scene that seems to have been seen anywhere, in a desperate special situation called ‘Highland’!
During the filming period, 14,000 people were put in, and 45,000 bullets were used.

The movie <Gojijeon> shows the situation ahead of the ceasefire. The fierceness to secure even an inch of land is evident in the manpower and firepower used in the film. For each scene, a few dozen people, or a maximum of 400 people, were put in. In any scene, basically 30 stuntmen are resident on the scene, and there are thrilling and large-scale battle scenes scattered throughout the film. Some 150 stuntmen were mobilized to shoot large-scale battle scenes.

The firepower that these people can digest is also huge. In addition to using 61 real guns and 500 model guns for the detonation scene, 240 kg of dynamite and 24,000 detonators were used for the battle scene in the play. This will make it possible to feel the charm of <Gojijeon>, which is closer to the truth than any other movie, by vividly capturing the fierce battle scenes as 14,000 manpower mobilized during the filming period used 45,000 bullets. .

[ Supplement ]

Battle of the Highlands (The Battle of the Highlands)
Occupying one hill has the same meaning as occupying an area 30 to 40 km nearby.
If it is a ceasefire, not an end to the war, the occupation of the highlands is to determine the territory.
A special warfare that means an unconditional sacrifice that has no place to hide and has to be pushed with human life.
The Battle of Baekmagoji is recorded as the most fierce battle in which the owner changes 3-4 times a day.

A very small hill with a radius of about 2.5 km, commonly called Aerok Hill.
Strategic location covering 30~40km of nearby Geumhwa and Yongseong
Political and military points that must be occupied in a situation where an armistice agreement is imminent in the play
In the actual Korean War, Blood Ridge, Punch Ball, Leader’s Ridge, Hill 949, Christmas Battle, White Horse Goji, Pork Chop Hill, Hook
There were actually nicknames attached to each highland, such as Highlands, M-1 Highlands, and Betty Gorges.

Alligator Company
1st Battalion, 1st Battalion, 3rd Regiment, 10th Division, Eastern Front
In August 1950, it was the only surviving unit during the worst battle of Pohang in history.
With the start of the armistice agreement, it was deployed on the forefront hillside and called the best company on the Eastern Front.

[ Production Note ]

‘Baekamsan’, which has been searched for over 100 mountains across the country for 7 months
A blockbuster-class natural set set with the entire mountain 650m above sea level as a battlefield, Aerok Highlands!
Residency for 4 months, the setting period alone reached 2 and a half months!

The movie <Gojijeon> perfectly reproduces the battlefield at the height of the Korean War with thorough historical research. The high ground in the movie <Goji Battle>, which was desolate and even grand, makes the audience feel the fierceness of the high ground battle during the Korean War by itself. In order to find a ‘place of war’ and ‘a place where you can have the sad feelings of war’, the production team combed through all 100 mountains across the country, excluding islands such as Jeju Island, Ulleungdo, Dokdo, and Marado, and major national parks in Korea before filming in 2009. We were able to find an optimal filming location called ‘Baekamsan Mountain’ in Hamyang, Gyeongsangnam-do at 650m above sea level, where a major wildfire actually occurred in 2017.

However, Baekamsan, which was found after a long time of devotion, is so steep that it is impossible to raise equipment or stand upright. However, with the persistent persuasion of director Jang Hoon and the martial arts team, the production team decided to shoot here, and the art team and the set team transformed Baekamsan into a perfect high ground during the Korean War according to thorough research. In order to create a realistic highland, the set team stayed in residence for 4 months and started weeding. Even the branches and stones scattered in the highlands could be dangerous, so meticulous manual work was required, and the pure setting took two and a half months. Thanks to the hidden efforts of the production team, you will be able to feel a more realistic impression in the movie <Gojijeon>.

Thorough historical evidence to perfectly realize the never-before-seen ‘Highland War’
Realization of realism through work that was as fierce as the war of 30 elite artists

The movie <Highland War> is a work that depicts the ‘Highland War’ that is lit for the first time. So I couldn’t handle any of the clothes and props carelessly. Director Jang Hoon and Art Director Ryu Seong-hee paid the most attention to the historical evidence to reproduce the reality of the time by mobilizing all veterans as well as defectors as the number of data on the ‘Highland War’ was insufficient compared to the war on the plains. Rather than showing a simple aspect of war, it was a cornerstone to maximize the emotions and drama of the soldiers caused by the situation. I had to create a bursting feeling, an old feeling, a new feeling, etc. on a steep slope. For this reason, Art Director Ryu Seong-hee formed a small group of about 30 artists who majored in art, and created various bunkers, trenches, and traffic arc sets, just as many soldiers built a camp on one ridge during the actual ‘Goji War’. Even in this work, without the help of any equipment, he made the viewers admire by digging the ground and making a road by hand.

Military uniforms worn by the soldiers in the play were also made through thorough data research, or military supplies used at the time were airlifted directly. Through these works, it was applied to various episodes in the movie so that it could melt like the soldiers at the time. Although ‘history’ is important in all historical dramas, the film <Gojijeon> was worked with the determination to properly portray the ‘Korean War’, where there are survivors who still have the experience of that time, so the producers working on this are obsessed with ‘history’. It had to be something else.

Our enemy is neither the People’s Army nor the war, but the rough terrain!
A new shooting technique to overcome the crisis,
Birth of ‘kiln shot’ and 700M ‘electric pole wire shot’ that connects the ground and the basement!

A place where it is difficult for a person to stand still, a place where it is difficult to even raise equipment, and a place where it is most difficult to control the sunlight (sunlight during the day). The opponent that the producers of <Goji War> had to fight was ‘Goji’. Baekamsan, which has a steep slope of close to 90 degrees, which makes it difficult to stand still, was the best place for realism, but it was not a difficult place to shoot. In particular, it was impossible with existing equipment to capture vivid images of soldiers climbing and rolling on high ground or running between traffic lanes. Even the best wire cam company in Korea shook their head saying, “It is impossible to film here.” Accordingly, the production team of <Gojijeon> commissioned the Grip team to prepare special shooting equipment for <Gojijeon>.

The production team of <Goji War> installed electric poles and wire cams at the top and bottom of the hill, so that realistic images could be created by shooting at a very close position without colliding with the soldiers climbing the slope. In addition, in order to capture the image of a soldier running between traffic lanes during a battle scene, a so-called ‘kiln cam’ was created in the shape of an upside-down kiln, and four filming teams (grip team) work with the soldiers running under the trenches. We were able to capture the scene vividly by running and shooting together. <Gojijeon>, which was created with the sweat and passion of the production team, will be able to feel more realistic images and emotions thanks to the victory over the enemy of the difficult terrain.

There is no special device for high ground! Only 5 weeks of formal training!
Actual military training in which not only the main actors but also minor actors participate!

In <The Battle of the Highlands>, all the cast members had to express the sense of urgency as they risked their lives to climb a mountain on a high ground with nowhere to hide. Since there is no special device to climb the difficult terrain, training was conducted every day to strengthen the stamina so that he could climb the high ground by himself. In addition, the actual military training, which includes running, falling, rolling, and shooting with a gun, continued for five weeks before filming. In addition, by shooting directly at the live ammunition shooting range, it is possible to have the emotions felt in the battlefield unique to <Gojijeon>. After that, I tried to express reality while continuing the emotion with a model gun at the training ground. This was a gateway that not only the actors who played the main roles, but also the stunt actors and the 30 minor actors who played the Crocodile Squadron had to go through unconditionally.

Even after cranking in, I had to be more careful because it was a dangerous situation where I could get hurt anytime, anywhere. It was impossible to tolerate even a single mistake in a situation where there were at least a few dozen people, or a maximum of more than 300 people. So, a day or two before filming began, I set aside time to unconditionally rehearse. Because of the special nature of a war movie, the actors reconfirmed and matched their movements without a break even during the two or three hours when the special effects, lighting, filming, and art teams were set. As a result, despite the chaotic situation in which many people participate, the filming ended safely, creating scenes that preserve the best energy and emotions.

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