DVD Hwanghae

DVD Hwanghae
DVD Hwanghae

Run time: 157 min
Rating: 7.4
Genres: Crime | Drama | Thriller
Director: Hong-jin Na
Writers: Hong-jin Na
Stars: Jung-woo Ha, Yun-seok Kim, Sung Ha Jo
The story of a cab driver in Yanji City, a region between North Korea, China and Russia. His wife goes to Korea to earn money, but he doesn’t hear from her since in 6 months. He plays mah-jong to make some extra cash, but this only makes his life worse; but then he meets a hitman who proposes to turn his life around by repaying his debt and reuniting with his wife, just for one hit. Written by Anonymous
Plot Keywords: female nudity, sex, illegal immigrant, gore, violence
Country: South Korea, USA, Hong Kong
Release Date: 21 October 2011 (UK)


  1. During World War II, lots of Koreans are forced to leave their home land to avoid the brutal oppression of Japanese military empire. Some are drifted to Soviet Union, and some are moved to far eastern border between China and Korea. Named after their former nations name, Cho-Sun, the people who settled in China is called Cho-Sun-Jok (Cho-Sun tribes). As you know, after liberation from Japanese military empire at the end of World War II, north and south Korea begins terrible war and still sporadic battle is going on at their border. North Koreans build their own frantic communist-religious nation and south Koreans build a nation based on capitalism. By the geological and political environment, these Cho-Sun-Jok have close relation with north Korea but the booming economy of south Korea lures them. Also south Korean economy needs these cheap labor, today many Cho-Sun-Jok are re-immigrated to south Korea. But the huge social and economical difference between south Korea and Cho- Sun-Jok bring out many problems like organized crime, drug and prostitution.

    The movie tells the story about three major characters. Gu-Nam, a desperate Cho-Sun-Jok taxi driver whose wife is moved to Korea for work and now missing, Myun-Ga (Mr. Myun), a Cho-Sun-Jok organized crime tycoon who sent Gu-Nam to Seoul to hit a wealthy south Korean with one-way ticket. And Mr. Kim who ordered hit to Myun-Ga. Abandoned and betrayed, Gu-Nam runs for life to find a way to go back to China and to his daughter, all of these is melted, surmised and finally run to a catastrophic ending.

    Director Na successfully build a reputation as a director with his first mega-hit move "Chaser". In this film his cinematic power is more escalated to a new level. Actors who played lead roles in "Chaser" also did the role again. Especially the character Myun-Ga, played by Yun-Seok, Kim is the most brutal villain in the movie I've ever seen.

    I think what current Korean movies differ from other nations, cultures is the depiction of blur between good and evil. In Korean movies, the really really bad guy have his own reason for his action, and good and innocent victim shows more insanity that can ruin himself and others.

    Really worthy for your two hours of golden weekend. Two thumbs up.

    P.S. The title "Hwanghea" means yellow(Hwang), sea(Hae). It is a strait between eastern China and western Korea peninsula.

  2. Massive Spoiler Alert – If you felt as confused as I did at the end of this film, have no worries. I believe I have the answers to the questions of who/why and more importantly WHEN certain events occurred that were only implied, yet will make the whole story much clearer. First, understand that there are three very important women in The Yellow Sea that all have very minor speaking roles, yet their actions were the catalyst for everything that happens. If I explain the film in terms of the three women's stories it should help clarify who/what/why/where/when.

    First is Ga-num's (the protagonist's) wife. Long story short, she moved to Korea to get a better paying job to support her family and ends up moving in with a Sushi Delivery Guy, stopped sending money to her husband and is then killed by SushiMan after he fights with Ga-naum and then confronts her about her husband. (Implied by SushiMan's confession to police). Her decision to stop sending money home is what forces Ga-num into the untenable choice of having his family killed to pay a debt or perform a hit on a man in Korea, allowing him to simultaneously cancel the debt and search for his wife. She is NOT the woman at the bank in the last scene.

    Second is "the Mistress". We find out at the end that "The Professor" slept with Kim Tae-won's mistress and that's why Kim hired the Professor's own driver to kill him. She is also not to be confused with Ga-num's wife. She is identifiable as the smokin' hot woman in the vigorous sex scene, not the foggy/hazy nightmares that Ga-num has of his wife having adulterous sex. She is truly Helenesque in that she launched the sequence of events that culminates in massive violence and death.

    Third, and most surprising, is the murdered man's (The Professor's) wife. We find out at the end of the film that a "banker" hired the Chinese Mafia to kill the Professor. The Chinese mafia then coerced Ga-num into performing the hit. In the last scene we see the professor's wife paying/speaking with The Banker who ordered the hit. Presumably, the Professor's wife also found out about the affair with the Mistress and ordered a hit of her own on her husband, not knowing that a simultaneous hit had been ordered as well. She, then, is the originator of the hit that ends up in Ga-num's lap. There are many more nuances in the plot, but these are the bare bones of why and should help you piece together the rest of the story.

  3. another near perfect thriller out of south Korea. i don't know what and how most movie festivals giving out award, but all movies directed by this director and screenplays written by this specific several movies directed by this specific director, the screenplay writer(s), both should have received the highest honors of awards. based upon my forty years movie viewing experience, i've never seen anything like these kind of well written, well directed and well performed korean movies. these movies mentioned by other reviewers are just on different level, making hollwood's films in similar genre like worthless garbage. watching every one of these movies just became a psychiatric treatment, the perfect and ultimate catharsis to drain the stress caused by the financial burden and bore-to-death day in and day out urban living, because nobody could be more down and out like the main characters portrayed in these movies, and not any common person, you or me, could be less lucky like these characters faced in their lives. korean movie thrillers are just so uniquely different from other countries, in my opinion, they are definitely on a higher level, higher than where the Hollywood, bollywood, Japanese, Chinese stand. because every time when i finished a korean movie like 'the yellow sea', 'the man from nowhere', 'i saw the devil'….i felt the stress that constantly burdened on my mind and shoulders would go away temporarily, i actually felt better and more alive. no other country's movies could have such catharsis-like effect.

    highly recommended to those who got the similar burden like me.

  4. featuring the same trio of director and leading men from the outstanding "The Chaser" Na Hong-Jin gives us a bleak slice of Korean life. All of the characters are unappealing and unsympathetic, but especially the violent loser Gu-Nam, who is sent on a murderous mission to Seoul by people trafficking gangster Myun-Ga. But despite Gu-Nams hopelessness you still root for him to survive and win despite the odds stacked against him. Na has crafted a flawed masterpiece from these broken elements, with plenty of his trademarks from The Chaser, like the outstanding cinematography (apart from some of the later chase scenes which seem to have been shot on a horrible video camera) and unrelenting violence. I would recommend it very highly.

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