National Security (2012 film)

National Security (Korean남영동 1985; RRNamyeong-dong 1985) is a 2012 South Korean prison drama film based on the memoir by Kim Geun-tae, a democracy activist who was kidnapped and tortured by national police inspector Lee Geun-an for 22 days in 1985 during the Chun Doo-hwan regime.[2][3][4][5][6]

National Security
National Security-poster.jpg
Promotional poster for National Security
Hangul 1985
Hanja 1985
Revised RomanizationNamyeong-dong 1985
McCune–ReischauerNamyŏng-dong 1985
Directed byChung Ji-young
Written byLee Dae-il
Jeong Sang-hyeop
Kang Min-hee
Produced byKim Ji-yeon
StarringPark Won-sang
Lee Geung-young
CinematographySeo Min-soo
Edited byKo Im-pyo
Music byShin Min
Aura Pictures
Distributed byMegabox/Cinus
Release dates
  • October 6, 2012 (2012-10-06) (BIFF)
  • November 22, 2012 (2012-11-22) (South Korea)
Running time
106 minutes
CountrySouth Korea
Box officeUS$2.2 million[1]

Calling the film "the most painful experience in my 30 years as a filmmaker," director Chung Ji-young wanted the audience to reflect on the theme of torture.[7] He said he found the courage to make the film so that Korean viewers will "engage with our sad history and the sacrifices of great people like Kim Geun-tae in a concrete, meaningful way. If we triumph over the past, we can move forward with unity and reconciliation."[2][8][9][10]


September 4, 1985. Kim Jong-tae (Park Won-sang), 37, a prominent activist against the military dictatorship of Chun Doo-hwan and onetime commissioner of the Youth Federation for Democracy, is arrested and taken to a special interrogation facility in Namyeong-dong, a district in the center of Seoul synonymous with political torture in the 1970s and 80s because it was the location of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA).[11] During the first three days he is allowed no food or sleep and told to write an exhaustive essay on his life to date. On the fourth day, in order to find out why he resigned from the YFD, head interrogator Park Nam-eun (Myung Gye-nam) starts water torture, and on the next day waterboarding. On the sixth day, torture specialist Lee Du-han, known as "The Undertaker" (Lee Geung-young), starts a deadlier form of water torture, trying to get Jong-tae to admit he is a communist in league with North Korea. By the 11th day Jong-tae writes whatever they want him to, but Lee says it's full of inconsistencies and unusable in a court of law. The next day, after finding Jong-tae tried to smuggle out a note to his wife (Woo Hee-jin), Lee resumes a more painful version of water torture, as well as electric shocks.[12][13][14][15]



Many had strong reactions to the film, some even choosing to leave theaters during its screenings at the 17th Busan International Film Festival.[16]

Though it was very strongly reviewed with many critics calling it one of the best Korean films of 2012, its subject matter is believed to have intimidated many viewers, resulting in low box office returns.[17] Director Chung Ji-young said, "It's a low-budget movie, so there wasn't a lot for publicity and marketing, and I think there are limits to its popular appeal. But I also think those 300,000 people went out of their way to see the movie. That's a truly meaningful number for us."[18]


  1. ^ "National Security (2012)".
  2. ^ a b Song, Ho-jin (14 August 2012). "New film portrays torture under dictatorship". The Hankyoreh. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  3. ^ Kim, Sam (5 October 2012). "'National Security' Movie: South Korean Torture Film Stuns Audiences". Associated Press via The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  4. ^ Kim, Sam (5 October 2012). "SKorean torture film raises ghost of military past". Associated Press via Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 2012-11-18.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Controversial S Korea film highlights state torture". Agence France-Presse via France 24. 6 October 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-18.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Park, Soomee (6 October 2012). "Busan 2012: Embattled Director Targets South Korean Election With Latest Film". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2012-11-20. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  7. ^ Park, Eun-jee (9 November 2012). "Torture movie reopens wounds on the eve of presidential election". Korea JoongAng Daily. Archived from the original on 3 January 2013. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  8. ^ Kim, Hyeon-min (30 November 2012). "CHUNG Ji-young, Director of NATIONAL SECURITY: A Must-See for the Young Generation". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
  9. ^ a b Song, Ho-jin (8 October 2012). "Busan Film Festival premiere recalls history of torture". The Hankyoreh. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  10. ^ Lee, Claire (28 November 2012). "The presidential politics of film". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2012-12-01.
  11. ^ Do, Je-hae (22 November 2012). "Film reveals horror of torture". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2012-11-24.
  12. ^ Elley, Derek (19 October 2012). "National Security". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  13. ^ Young, Deborah (4 October 2012). "National Security: Busan Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  14. ^ Bechervaise, Jason (7 October 2012). "National Security". Screen International. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  15. ^ Kuipers, Richard (8 October 2012). "National Security". Variety. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  16. ^ Conran, Pierce (16 November 2012). "In Focus: NATIONAL SECURITY". Korean Film Council. Retrieved 2013-02-26.
  17. ^ Paquet, Darcy (30 November 2012). "Box office, November 15–28". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved 2012-12-03.
  18. ^ Song, Ho-jin (4 December 2012). "Small budget films making big impressions". The Hankyoreh. Retrieved 2012-12-04.

External linksEdit