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Original Title:
Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA

South Korea 2000

Bang Jun-seok
Jo Yeong-wook

JSA - Joint Security Area - OST

Review: In Park Chan-wook's movies music always played an important role. He realized pretty soon that a good soundtrack can really aid you in moving your audience and carrying them away into another world. This is why already in "JSA" he used music to help him enchant his viewers. In contrast to his later works, however, he didn't only assign some composers to create a score for his film, but also worked in a few folk- and pop pieces. The end product is a very interesting and unusual soundtrack, which stands out because of its good mix of traditional sounds with some borrowing of Hollywood flicks, modern folk songs, and even some russian tunes. The score from Bang Jun-Seok and Jo Yeong-wook (latter one also being responsible for the great "Oldboy" OST) is very atmospheric and offers some nice tracks, even though the true highlights are the two songs from Kim Kwang-seok and the russian folk song at the end of the CD. These titles alone are already a good reason to get this OST, but I will also shed some more light on the other tracks of the CD.

The CD starts off with "Joint Security Area", a piece that is mainly supposed to create some atmosphere with its ominous mysterious sounds and the grieving singing of a voice in the background, even though it doesn't stand out with a special melody. The next track is "Song of a Private" by Kim Kwang-seok, a incredibly sad, touching and wonderful song. Kim ist very well known in Korea for his clear voice, his acoustic guitar and harmonica play. The intensity of his voice shows particularly well to advantage in this track, and with joy reminds us of the meeting of the four friends/soldiers in the movie. But it also brings back the memory of the sad sighing of one of the soldiers, who asks why Kim Kwang-seok had to die at such a young age...
In "A La Una Yo Naci ~ Firework Display" a wind instrument plays a somber tune that almost reminds us of a funeral march, and which becomes even more melancholic thanks to the use of monotonous drums. "Brass Rice Bowl of Woman Kate" on the other hand is almost an upbeat track, which nonetheless has also something folk-like to it, mainly because of the bell sounds and the drums.

With its mourningful strings, "Barricade" strongly has to remind you of Hollywood dramas that also take place at a military territory. Still, this is a very nice title since the melody has something soothing and dreamy about it, too. The short track "Family Photo", which is only played by a lonely piano, seems pretty sad, though. Next is another sung piece, this time by Han Tae-soo, who reminds me pretty much of Bob Dylan concerning his style and his somewhat smoky voice. His "One Night" is a pretty sorrowful track, too, and is conveyed by an acoustic guitar and an excessively used harmonica. A really nice song, which just can't compare with Kim Kwang-seok's, however.
"Reed Forest" is once again one of those very moody tracks, that goes without a real motif. The melody that is shining through every now and then is played by a flute and sounds somewhat indian, which is quite appealing. Yet this is no song that you will listen to often.
"Dreams of the Young" is a typical track of a military thriller along with dark strings. However, with its nice flowing motif it also reminds us of "Oldboy". Moreover, the motives from "Barricade" are further developed in this track.

Tension rising and mysterious are the words that come to mind when you have to describe "What the Eye Sees", which oddly sounds pretty arabic with the instruments featured. "Can't Walk Back" on the other side seems like a traditional korean or japanese song, which surely is because of the stringed instrument that the title focuses on. Nonetheless, the melody isn't really enthralling.
"Why?" by Maru is the only real bad track on the CD, which is simply because it doesn't fit into the rest with its 80s-like melody. And to make things even worse it is also a bit cheesy. Which means you gotta hit the skip button, even though this title may not be that bad on its own.
"Reunion" is a title that can be quite nerve-racking and could be taken right out of a horror film, although there is still a nice melody apparent. Completely different is "One Morning", again by Han Tae-soo, which strongly reminded me of some Country music piece. That's also because of Han himself, who gives his voice a very smoky sound. Furthermore, he also gets support by some women in the background. A rather joyful track, which seems to have been a fun time for Han to work on.

"Conversation of Republic Soldiers" is a short, yet wonderful piano piece, which easily sticks with you thanks to its sad melody. "76 POWs" is once again one of those melodic and tension-filled military thriller tracks, which melody takes on a more melancholic shape during the second half, continuing the motif from "Dreams of the Young".
"From Oblique Line" is another piano piece, which melody hints at a secret that is about to be revealed, and which gets support by some strings towards the end. After that it's my personal favorite: "Unsent Letter" by Kim Kwang-seok. A melancholic, but a little bit more upbeat melody makes this song a soft rock ballad with folk character, which you can listen to at any time. If you don't get goosebumps when listening to this sad and wonderfully melodic song, then you might already be dead.
"O Virtus Sapientie ~ Goodbye" is a very sad piece, which can score with its slightly spheric tunes and the traditional russian-like motif, although the track might also be a little bit too stretched, which makes it somewhat repetitive. Nevertheless, it perfectly sets the stage for "Those Who Are Forgotten / The Rush Light", a traditional russian piece, which just fully captures the incredibly sad mood of the film and can move you to tears. Especially when the movie's last picture comes back to your mind. Together with "Unsent Letter" this song is the CD's highlight, and thus stands as a worthy final track.

There is only left to say, that it would have been nice, if the score-like pieces would have had a bit more substance, and weren't simply build on creating the necessary atmosphere in the movie. Nevertheless, there are also some very nice pieces among them. What's really well done, however, is the mixture of the songs. Kim Kwang-seok's titles are the best on the CD, but the rest is also quite appealing. This is a soundtrack, that is really worth your money.

Copyright © 2008 AsianMovieWeb

Track listing

01. 공동경비구역
02. 이등병의 편지
03. 불꽃놀이
04. 바리케이드
05. 가버린 사람들
06. 가족사진
07. 하룻밤(한대수)
08. 갈대숲
09. 젊은 날의 꿈
10. 눈밭에서의 조우
11. 돌아오지 않는 다리
12. 왜(마루)
13. 재회
14. 하루아침(한대수)
15. 병사들의 이야기
16. 76인의 포로들
17. 사선에서
18. 부치지 않은 편지
19. 작별
20. 잊혀진 사람들
     (원제; The Rush Light
     - Russian Folk Song)


01. Joint Security Area
02. Song of a Private
      (Kim Kwang-seok)
03. A La Una Yo
      Naci ~ Firework Display
04. Brass Rice Bowl
      of Woman Kate
05. Barricade
06. Family Photo
07. One night
      (Han Tae-soo)
08. Reed Forest
09. Dreams of the Young
10. What the Eye Sees
11. Can't Walk Back
12. Why? (Maru)
13. Reunion
14. One Morning
      (Han Tae-soo)
15. Conversation of
      Republic Soldiers
16. 76 POWs
17. From Oblique Line
18. Unsent Letter
      (Kim Kwang-seok)
19. O Virtus Sapientie ~
20. Those Who Are
      Forgotten (The Rush
      Light - Russian Folk

(Thanks to Neonrebel for the translation.)

Running Time = 57:56

Buy this soundtrack
at AsianDB.com