Philosophic Review: Northern Limit Line

It takes a lot for me to really cry from a story. I’ll shamelessly admit that I often haven’t actually sobbed when I comment “I totally cried when…” on a post. Generally, they’re… inner, metaphorical tears. Right. So trust me when I say that this film gets emotional. I truly absolutely literally teared up.  It’s like U-571, but more sad. It gets a 4/5 on characters #truestorybased/5 on plot and a 4/5 on philosophy. I recommend it to anyone who wants a touching story… and a good cry.

*As always, the * areas relate to a spoiler below.

Themes: Macro-micro human relations, emotional coexistance, death


Crowds cheer wildly for the match, anticipating the coming came. Smiles and cries of joy are heard as people everywhere celebrate. But not everyone’s world is peaceful at this moment–a helicopter races a badly wounded man to the hospital as doctors and paramedics work to save him. This is the aftermath of the second Battle of Yeonpyeong, a conflict between North and South Korea over the Northern Limit Line. It’s impactful enough to grab my attention before we transition back in time to start.

The story begins in the docks with the arrival of our main character: Medic Park. It’s him we follow throughout the movie as he adjusts to life in the navy aboard an active duty ship patrolling the Northern Limit Line. The environment is tough but not devoid of love, and he manages to enjoy his life at sea–particularly sneaking moments to watch the World Cup with his crewmembers. It’s a relaxed, celebratory mood to contrast the seriousness of their job. This movie does an exceptional job at delivering this contrast*.

That was my favorite thing about this movie, I think. It showed the levels of human emotion related to a situation. The way someone treats you may not always indicate how they feel about you–and what one person feels isn’t necessarily reciprocated. More than that, however, it makes a stark point that a high moment in one’s life can be the darkest time for another. Suffering doesn’t stop in the world just because you’ve had a good day. And death isn’t picky about who it takes*.

A  review I read online claimed this movie sparked controversy for it’s “non-political approach” by portraying the conflict in black and white: the Southern Koreans under attack were the good guys and the Northern Koreans attacking were the bad guys. But I disagree with them: it’s easy to call someone closed-minded years after the fact, in a society that hates making anything “good” or “bad”. But the facts stand–the North Korean ships crossed the NLL and shot at the boat–and I dare anyone to withstand that pressure and not think ill of the one shooting at you. On either side. What is a soldier supposed to do then? Dither about it and feel bad until they get shot themselves? They can’t afford to.

In the end, I have decided that no movie can tackle every issue, and NLL did very well with what it chose to portray. I enjoyed the references to the interviews as well*, as they added another element of realism to the film. It was a good film, and I’d watch it again.



movie still from un dorama por favor (gotta love world-wide fandom!)

*the emotional contrast: the captain drilling them into proficiency is the same man fighting for their safety at an officers meeting. The men cheering on their team one moment are the same ones dying the next. The rest of the world is celebrating wildly, oblivious to the suffering of their countrymen several thousand miles away.
*death isn’t picky: I honestly thought Medic Park was going to make it. Of the individuals the movie followed I really thought he at least would live. After he was wounded I doubted–but he survived and made it to the hospital. And so when he passed away it hit me like a truck: death doesn’t care about what’s convenient. It doesn’t care if they’ve been rescued, or if they’re on the road to recovery. People will still die–and that’s what makes living right so important.
*interview references: I don’t know if they told him to talk about it or not–but one of the interviewed members spoke of their feelings towards the world cup. After the last scene–a throwback to the one moment they all got to watch a game together–I really teared up. Life doesn’t tell you when it’s about to unleash hell, so cherish the moments you have.

Thanks for reading,



One response to “Philosophic Review: Northern Limit Line

  1. Well, I’ve watched Band of Brothers (actually, I’ve watched it several times) so I know how it feels when characters you’ve grown really attached to die. Even when you know what to expect, it’s a series about a war after all. And there was a lot of dying in that one. Yup, death ain’t picky, that’s for sure.

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