Geuddae geusaramdeul (The President's Last Bang) (2005)
Director: Sang-soo Im.
Starring: Jae-ho Song (President Park Chun-hee), Suk-kyu Han (KCIA Chief Agent Ju), Yun-shik Baek (KCIA Director Kim), Won-jung Jeong (President's Chief Bodyguard Cha), Sang-geon Jo, Sang-ho Kim (KCIA Agent Jang), Byung-gil Kwun (President's Chief Secreatry Yang), Jae-gu Lee (KCIA Agent Kwon), Seong-wook Kim.
events leading up to assassination of South Korean President Park Chung-hee (1961-1979)
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
This film is based on a true story: the assassination of South Korean President Park Chung Hee. President Park gained office by a military coup in 1961 and ruled with near dictatorial powers. In October 1979, students and workers gather to protest Park's oppressive rule, but Park's military easily crushes the protestors.
October 26, 1979, Seoul.
At the president's secret quarters there are lots of young women in bikinis by the swimming pool. A man in the water has some of them take their bikini tops off as he takes their photos.
A South Korean CIA agent, Chief Agent Ju, is investigating a case involving sex between a young woman and an older man, probably the president. The mother has a forgiving attitude and the detective calls her a bitch and asks her what kind of mother is she?
Director of the Korean CIA, Kim. A doctor urges him to resign and get some rest. He adds that things will get better once the present brutal reformist regimen ends. Director Kim says the President doesn't think he should rest. He says: "Why live long and happy by yourself? Get back to work."
A group of employees talk about the heavy constrictions on speech in South Korea. One must never be heard saying something good about North Korea. Almost anyone can be assumed to be a spy under anti-communist law.
Chief Agent Ju walks by the various interrogation rooms. People are being threatened, one man is beaten, another man gets doused with water from a hose, etc. The mother and daughter team are also there being grilled.
Secretary Yang tells Secretary Cha, a military man, to mind his own business. Don't ask him about reports he has prepared for the president. Cha asks Yang if he wasn't appointed a secretary of the liquor cabinet? That he is the president's drinking buddy? The president is lonely and being his drinking buddy is an important position.
The president wants to listen tonight to a female singer of Korean songs. It will be at the secret quarters.
The detective releases the mother and daughter onto the streets and tells the daughter to make sure her mother watches her big mouth. If he sees them again, they will be in big trouble.
Secretary Cha shouts to hundreds of military men about the importance of protecting the life of the president because the president is the country! During the raising of the flag and the playing of the national anthem, everyone, including those in cars, have to stop to show their respect.
A CIA family man is called in on his day off. The old man is coming and he has to be there. The CIA Director tells Colonel Min to tell the army chief of staff that he is in with the president.
Between Secretary Yang and the CIA director, the talk is of the many parties the president has been having. The CIA Director says it's because he's lonely. Park can be very cold to people. The previous CIA Director told Park that if there was one more student demonstration at Seoul University, he would send in tanks to raze the school. Secretary Yang says he has made a report to the president on Secretary Cha's meddling ways.
The detective has a girl in the back of his car for the president. They go and pick up the Korean singer.
At a dinner with three others, Park refers to that "bastard" Jimmy Carter. He says he is just so stupid making all this fuss about democracy. Park says he at least has an opposition party. He wants Carter and the others off his back. After all, only a few nations have democratic governments. He makes another reference to the Americans, those "Yankee bastards".
Park says that the KCIA is not doing their job right. They need to intimidate -- to "scare the shit out of people!"
Ju brings the two girls into the building. Secretary Cha hits him hard in the stomach saying: "Take care of things so word doesn't get around!" How dare he let the two girls enter the Blue House? (The Blue House is a complex of buildings that is the executive office and official residence of the President of the Republic of Korea.) The young women come and sit on either side of the president.
Chief Agent Ju tells CIA Director Kim that he's handing in his resignation because he can't go on performing duties like the present one. Kim tells him that things change and they will change today.
The news of the day is the opposition party's group resignation. Secretary Cha says if only the KCIA had taught Youngsam Kim a lesson, this never would have happened. Park agrees. Kim asks Secretary Cha why he just doesn't shut up? The singer gets up, picks up her guitar and starts singing.
Director Kim is mad. He leaves the room He says I'll show you how tough the CIA can be. He also says: "They're all dead." Ju shows up and Kim tells him that today's the day; he's getting rid of them. He says he wants the agents to take out the PSS men when he starts shooting. Ju complains that's there too many here today, that it's too dangerous. Kim tells him to stop being a sissy and pick three bright men to assist him. Park is the target, Cha is a bonus. He adds: "For the sake of democracy, we're offering our lives."
Kim returns to the dinner. Park rests his head on the college girl, while the singer continues her entertainment.
Ju tells Col. Min to double the number of men. The college girl dances to the music of the singer-guitarist. Ju tells two of his men to kill the PSS men if they cause any stir. Do it or they will all die! Ju is a friend of the leader of the PSS and he doesn't want to kill him. Ju and he were in the marines together.
One of the men chosen to hit the PSS men says he's not going to do this. He starts to leave but Col. Min stops him.
Chief Agent Ju asks to talk with Director Kim. They meet together with Col. Min. It's all set except for the actual firing. Kim goes back to the dinner with the pistol behind his back. He shoots Secretary Cha first. The president asks what's going on? Kim shoots him in the right side of the chest. The bullet goes through him and out the other side. Ju hears the shots and pulls his gun on the two PSS men he is with. Col Min and the two men with him hear the shots and charge the kitchen killing both the kitchen staff and the PSS men. Ju tells the two men that they are going to live through this, just be calm. But the PSS leader starts to draw his weapon and Ju shoots him. The other man jumps on Ju, but Ju shoots him in the throat and blood spurts everywhere. Kim wants to shoot the two men again, but his gun jams.
Kim runs out into the yard shouting for a gun. One of his men gives him a gun. Secretary Yang runs out of the dining area. Secretary Cha comes out of the bathroom where he was trying foolishly to stick his finger back onto his hand. Kim returns and shoots Secretary Cha twice more. He next grabs Park by the hair and sits him up. The women say don't do it, but he tells them to get out. Park asks Kim if he is going to shoot him again? Kim tells him: "When you die, you're nothing but a pile of shit!" Park says: "I've already had enough." Kim growls and shoots him in the head.
Kim gets General Chung, the army chief of staff, and away he goes in a car after telling Ju to clean the place up. Driving to KCIA headquarters Kim tells the army chief of staff that something terrible has happened and it's an national emergency.
Doctors try to save the life of the unknown man that was brought into the hospital.. Gen. Chung gives the orders to prepare for regular warfare. Ju is left behind to clean things up. He sees Secretary Cha covered in blood. Ju doesn't clean things up. He just steps over the bodies. Ju asks two of his men to get him an M-16. He has the men go around and shoot each of the bodies.
Park's server tells Ju that he needs to change his clothes. Some of the kitchen staff are still alive. Ju starts changing his clothes. Kim tells the top brass that they should hide the crisis for two days. Gen. Chung says that until an official cabinet meeting, a lid should be kept on the crisis as top secret. The prime minister arrives. The cabinet meeting begins.
The prime minister knows the truth (but not who is the killer) because Secretary Yang told him. The cabinet members are shocked. The first order of business is to confirm that the president is dead. They speak with Secretary Yang and this time he tells them that Kim killed Park. They ask him why he didn't tell them all this earlier. He says because Kim was right there with a pistol.
The Army chief of staff asks to see Kim. They force Kim into a car. Col. Min hears a scream and goes to check on it. He finds the car that he arrived in all open and deserted. Army men come to get Col. Min. He jumps into the car and drives away.
Ju drives the women home. He gives them money and tells them to keep their mouths shut. They both start crying. Ju sees the cabinet members going by in their official vehicles. He calls to tell his men to check on their boys at the hospital watching the body.
The cleaned body of Park is revealed to the cabinet. Some men are extremely upset. One asks what if Kim il-sung finds out? The acting president is now Prime Minister Choi.
Col. Min was executed by gunshot. Ju tried to kill himself but couldn't. Of the two men guarding the body at the hospital, only the one involved in the shooting was executed. The other, the driver, was not even indicted. The man who shot the bodies with an M-16 to make sure they were dead received the death penalty. Park's assistant who just watched was not indicted. He disappeared and no one knows where he is.
Good movie. Enjoyed it. Interesting build-up to the assassination of the President of South Korea Park. I was surprised at who wanted to kill him -- didn't see it coming. It takes awhile to build up steam, but when the assassination finally comes then it's all action the rest of the time. It gets pretty bloody. I liked this fellow Suk-kyu Han as KCIA Chief Agent Ju.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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