“71 Into the Fire”
“The film is based on the true story of 71 South Korean student soldiers who defended Pohang, a port city in North Gyeongsang, during the Korean War in 1950. As the South Korean Army converged on the Nakdong River to guard against the advancing North Korean Army, the student soldiers who remain in Pohang become the only defense against them.
The film opens with a battlefield scene. Bullets fly and the crack of gun shots and blasts is relentless. From the collapsing buildings and bomb explosions to the fluttering particles of dust and realistic makeup, everything is recreated in realistic detail, showing where the 11.3 billion won ($10 million) might have gone.”
The Korean War, which broke out on June 25, 1950, has been a forgotten war for a long time. Who remembers the war? Is there anybody who can remember the song we sang with resolute determination beginning, “How can we forget that tragic day?” Although we have forgotten the song about the Korean War, it is a matter of no importance. It is not a karaoke song, and elementary school students no longer learn how to sing it. What is there left to do? Forgetting the war would be just as irrational as forgetting who we are.
The JoongAng Ilbo is encouraging people to remember the forgotten war. This is a truly welcome event. The newspaper is releasing its series of interviews with Gen. Paik Sun-yup - a vivid, well-written memoir of the tragic war - as its New Year’s special. The Korean War was definitely a national tragedy. Scars left by the war are still visible everywhere in this nation, though left unattended. Take a close look at the horrible situation facing South Korean prisoners of war detained in North Korea. They grew old working in underground coal mines. Some went through hell to escape. However, there are still others who shed their blood and sweat in the North’s “valley of tears.”
How can we forget those unknown but brave soldiers who, like sparkling dewdrops, shone with the dawn and then disappeared without a trace? Among them were volunteers who fought as student soldiers in the Korean War. Those boys who put down their pens and slung guns over their shoulders for the sake of a nation in imminent peril numbered nearly 50,000. Seven thousand were killed in battle, but approximately 1,000 are still alive.”
As they were student soldiers, they had neither official rank nor military serial numbers like the regular army. Yet they sacrificed their precious youth and fought, risking their lives in a precarious position as civilians, just like the armies raised in the cause of justice during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) did. In fact, in all the countries of the world, there is no precedent for students to volunteer for military service to protect their nation from external aggression. Nevertheless, they became forgotten heroes of the war without adequate compensation because they were civilians.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The 15-year-old boy prayed silently beside a freshly dug grave as he and other prisoners waited to be shot by a North Korean firing squad. Kim Man-kyu, barely taller than his M-1 rifle, had fought with other South Korean student volunteers in an 11-hour battle before being captured just weeks into the 1950-53 Korean War.
"Suddenly, a fighter jet appeared and bombed and fired machine guns at the area," recalled Kim, now a 75-year-old retired pastor. Under attack, the North Koreans abandoned the execution of the prisoners, including some American soldiers.
About 100,000 South Korean students volunteered to fight in the Korean War, which broke out 60 years ago Friday 25th June, 1950. More than 1,970 perished, according to the War Memorial of Korea, a national museum in Seoul.
Kim was one of 71 students whose story is told in a blockbuster, star-studded film, "71 — Into the Fire," which opened to huge audiences in South Korea last week. The distributor plans to release the movie in the United States and Japan too, though no dates have been set.