Blu-Ray Review: JSA – Joint Security Area

Since the end of the Korean War, there has been an (very) uneasy peace between the North and South. Located within the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the Joint Security Area was the only place where soldiers from both armed forces directly faced each other. This area was traditionally used for diplomatic events and peace negotiations, but today it largely functions as a tourist attraction. It provides the setting for Chan-wook Park’s tense drama, JSA – Joint Security Area.

After two North Korean soldiers are shot dead, Sergeant Lee Soo-hyeok (Lee Byung-Hun) flees back injured to the South’s side of the DMZ. Events are disputed. Was it a kidnapping or an attack? Major Jean (Lee Yeong-ae), a neutral Swiss army officer, is assigned to investigate. There is also a witness on the DPRK side (Song Kang-Ho), but both men seem hesitant to speak. As Jean digs deeper into the mystery, she slowly begins to uncover the truth.

JSA – Joint Security Area is a stylish thriller which delves deep into the socio-political dialogue of the period. At its centre, it’s a whodunit. Jean must overcome reticence, political intrigue and prejudice to get to the heart of the truth. Park doesn’t merely operate in caricatures; his leads are all well-rounded and defy stereotypes. Meticulously plotted and expertly acted, JSA – Joint Security Area is a masterclass in mystery storytelling.  

Special edition contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation
  • Original lossless Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and PCM 2.0 stereo soundtracks
  • Optional English subtitles
  • New audio commentary by writer and critic Simon Ward
  • Isolated music and effects track
  • Newly recorded video interview with Asian cinema expert Jasper Sharp
  • The JSA Story and Making the Film, two archival featurettes on the film’s production
  • About JSA, a series of archival introductions to the film by members of the cast
  • Behind the scenes montage
  • Opening ceremony footage
  • Two music videos: Letter from a Private and Take the Power Back
  • Theatrical trailer
  • TV spot
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Kieran Fisher

JSA – Joint Security Area is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 18 January.

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