Typhoon (Taepung), directed by Kwak Kyung-Taek, is a Korean thriller in which heroic 1st Lieutenant Kang Sejong (played by Lee Jung-Jae) saves Korea from a nuclear attack. The premise of the movie is that in 1983, when South Korea recognized China officially, a couple of dozen North Koreans were denied diplomatic asylum by South Korea. The North Koreans, at great peril, had fled to China after receiving South Korean leaflets in a balloon and were at the Austrian Embassy in Beijing when the decision was made by South Korea with some input from the United States. Subsequently, those seeking asylum are driven outside town and all but two are gunned down in cold blood. The two survivors consist of Choi Myeong-Ju (played by Lee Mi-Yeon), who later becomes a prostitute in Vladivostok, and Choi Myong-Sin (played by Jang Dong-Gun), who somehow has friends among Thai pirates. When the film begins, the year is 2003. Sin, who has sworn revenge against South Korea for the tragic denial of asylum, resulting in the death of his parents, is among the pirates who take over a merchant ship in the waters off Taiwan. The ship’s cargo includes some nuclear equipment that is traded in Vladivostok for chemical waste from Chernobyl; Sin’s aim is to drop the nuclear waste over both Koreas, using balloons. After the ship is hijacked, the South Korean government hires Sejong to determine the nature of the plot and to track down the mastermind. Sejong soon identifies Sin as the plotter, arranges to buy Myeong-Ju for $30,000 from her Russian captors, stashes her in a hideaway, and uses her as bait to attract Sin. Although Sin jumps at the bait, his Russian allies fire on the hideaway, so both siblings escape, though Myeong-Ju has been wounded and is dying. Sin then reboards the hijacked ship with the new cargo, which he call “Typhoon,” and heads for Korea. However, two typhoons are converging into one, with the pirate ship is in the middle. An American submarine is trying to track down the ship in order to launch torpedoes so that the incident will be covered up at the bottom of the sea. However, Sejong mounts a helicopter mission to take control of the ship in the midst of the storm. There is an inevitable confrontation between Sin and Sejong, who saves the day, though there is an improbable ending. Typhoon is not complimentary about China, North Korea, Russia, Thailand, or the United States for various reasons. South Korea alone is virtuous. MH

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