I recommend going into this movie COMPLETELY blind of its context like I did, so if you haven’t seen Joint Security Area, then don’t read this review, even though it’s not very spoiler-ish.
Peace through mutual hostility or peace through mutual unity? Park Chan-wook accomplished political miracles in Joint Security Area by ridiculing the dramatic division between borders; to promulgate this, he shows the indifference of the narrative’s soldiers to that of their own code of country and a practical example of how their humanity became much richer by bonding with one another rather than gatekeeping to that of a tribe. The performers and dialogue do a superb job at convincing us of this dynamic, and as per usual Chan-wook is just the best when it comes to visually transitioning between scenes. The unique structuring of the movie is also something to be commended; it completely threw me off with its subversion of tone, lending the impact of its reveals to hit harder than they would’ve in a more chronological order.
To bring it back, the film I think suggests that you can’t have both mutual hostility and mutual unity, as the two when clashed contradicts, and sets up the likelihood for tragedy. However, I think it’s more than clear that Chan-wook sees mutual unity as the answer to furthering the luxury of life, despite our differences in belief ideologies. As cliché as it is, the real treasure was the friends we made along the way. Uh oh…
“Joint Security Area” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.