An iconic image fills the screen: a crushed North Korean cap beside a South Korean helmet, both with bullet holes. A woman’s breathy romantic song accompanies the image as the credits roll. A northern officer risks his life, surrendering in order to find his first love. The woman, assuming him dead, had married the very southern officer to whom the man has now surrendered. Let me meet her – she’s the mother of my child, begs the northerner, and I’ll give you vital information.
Away from the battlefield, we enter the world of collateral damage. Melodrama, no stranger to the war genre, in Kim Kee-duk’s hands generates a painful psychological puzzle : what to do about the dilemma of these two men, one woman and one child? War, we are reminded, severs natural human relations, smashes hearts as well as bodies.