(aka "Joint Security Area" or "Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok")

directed by Park Chan-wook
South Korea 2000


In a remote part of Korea, there runs a small river. A beautiful stretch of land, picturesque one would say, surrounded by woods. Across the river is a simple bridge. It all would make a beautiful postcard. However, the river divides Korea into capitalistic South and communistic North – and the bridge is Joint Security Area.

At 2:16am, October 28, in a recent year, a South Korean soldier is attempting to cross the bridge from the North. After an exchange of fire, the wounded soldier is rescued. In the military investigation that follows, three dead soldiers are found in the North Korea border post: One South Korean, Two North Korean. North Korea accuses him of being a spy, having attacking the post with a fellow soldier, South Korea accuses the North of having kidnapped the two soldiers and “interrogated” them. As if the political climate wasn’t tense enough, this incident puts both sides on alert.

Two military investigators, a Swede and a Korean born Swiss, arrive at the border to investigate the incident. This is the set-up for “JSA”, one of the best Korean films to date, directed by Park Chan-wook, who also made “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” and the critical acclaimed “Old Boy”.

Park is a philosophy major, who during collage got fascinated with film and who went on to be assistant director on Gwak Jae-young’ “A Sketch of a Rainy Day” (1988). He got his breakthrough with “JSA”, after two poorly received films, which went on to be the highest grossing Korean film to date.

At the centre of Park’s films are ordinary humans, who are driven to extremes, but also a social aware motif, of ordinary humans fighting against an irrational force. In “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” its need for 10 million won, in “Old Boy” it’s the prisoner and in “JSA” it’s the division of Korea.

But while “JSA” is very political, the characters are not. Where it begins as a politic thriller, it soon, by the investigation, turns into a story about four friends, caught up in the conflict between North and South Korea. None were spies, none were kidnapped and when we, towards the end of the film, are shown the actual events, its basically anticlimactic in its simplicity.

Throughout the film, Park underlines the two faces of the conflict: On one side, we have the political, military apparatus, on the other side, we have ordinary human beings, who can reason and who have a heart. This is beautifully stressed in the sequences, where two border patrols meet each other and the captains walk towards each other and have a cigarette together

Henrik Sylow


Theatrical Release: September 9, 2000

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

Recommended Books on Korean Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

DVD Review: Modern Audio - Region 3 - NTSC

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:


Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...


Modern Audio

Region 3 - NTSC

Runtime 1:48:57

2.06:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.53 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital Korean, 5.1 Dolby Digital Korean, DTS Korean
Subtitles Traditional, Simplified, English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Modern Audio

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 2.06:1

Edition Details:
• Trailer (2:31)
• Music Video 'Song for a Private' (4:54)

DVD Release Date: March 26, 2002
Cased Keep Case

Chapters 12


Comments JSA is the first Korean film to be shot in Super35. The suggested OAR is 2.35:1, but this DVD presents the film in 2.06:1, while the Korean anamorphic presentation is 2.24:1. Thus a comparison is more than welcomed.

While the image is beautiful, it lacks “that extra” sharpness in details. Notice for instance the text “03:20 sep 16”. It also has a tiny amount of Edge Enhancement (see subtitle sample – edges of signs), but they are undetectable when watching the film. Overall a great image.

 - Henrik Sylow


DVD Menus


Screen Captures

Subtitle sample





















DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:


Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...


Modern Audio

Region 3 - NTSC


Hit Counter












DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...