The group is commissioned to retaliate in response
to North Korea’s Special Unit 124 which infiltrated South
Korea in January, 1968 with the hopes of entering the Blue
House, the presidential palace in Korea, and assassinating
then President Park Chung-hee. After the unit fails to execute
their orders, Special Unit 684 is formed with 31 convicts—all
facing death sentences—who are promised freedom and fame
upon successful completion of the retaliatory mission.
Based on a true story, Silmido follows the dysfunctional
group of criminals and outcasts who endure rigorous military
designed to promote a successful operation. Lieutenant Choi
and Sergeant Heo (the actors names were in Kanji and were
to this writer) lead the unit through a vigorous training routine
including an obstacle course, marksmanship, pain tolerance,
and suicide training; the leaders explain that if captured,
is the best option for protecting the unit because the enemy
will torture prisoners until they give up vital information
regarding the confidential mission.
After training for two years, the unit is given orders to
commence the mission. However, just as the soldiers are
from the island, the central command calls and orders a halt
to the mission due to a growing sentiment of peace between
North and South Korea. The soldiers are told to keep training,
without a mission they become discouraged and start to lose
Two soldiers sneak away to a nearby island and rape a civilian
girl. When they are caught, the entire unit is beaten by
the officers. After realizing they have nothing left to
the unit decides to carry out the mission anyway, despite
knowing that they will be executed upon doing so.
The movie focuses on the emotions of the soldiers as they
come together to fight for their freedom and work to
strenuous training routine. There is no shortage of graphic
violence or blood as soldiers are shot in combat scenes.
that the unit will be executed by the military, each
member uses his blood to write his name on the wall of
of being honored for their sacrifice.
Silmido was shot by Kim Seong-bok in Korea, New Zealand,
and Malta, and was directed by Kang Woo-suk. It is
the first film
to sell over 10 million tickets in Korea.