The Fortress (2017) Movie Script

CJ Entertainment Presents
A Siren Pictures Production
Executive Producer
JEONG Tae-sung
Produced by
Michelle KWON Simon LEE PARK Ji-sung
KIM Ji-yeon
In the early 17th century, Jurchen
which was in conflict with Ming China
named itself
the Qing Empire and forced
the Joseon Dynasty of Korea
to become its servant nation.
Joseon resisted on the reason of
its dignity and loyalty to the Ming.
On December 14, 1636, the Qing's army
crossed the Yalu River to invade Joseon.
Joseon's king lnjo and his lieges took refuge
in the fortress in Namhan mountain.
That winter was harshly cold
with heavy snow.
Scare him.
Archers, forward!
I have been ordered
by the King of Joseon
to see General Ingguldai!
Is this how you would
greet a royal envoy?
Ask him who he is.
Who are you?
Identify yourself!
I am Myeong-gil Choi, Minister of the Interior
of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea!
LEE Byung-hun KIM Yoon-seok
Get inside.
It's cold out.
PARK Hae-il GO Soo
Did the royal carriage cross here
Iast night?
Yes, I Ied them across the ice.
Soon the Qing will arrive.
Why did you not go
with the royal carriage?
Surely, not even the barbarians
would kill a frail old boatman.
I know the icy path across
this river well.
If the enemy comes, I will guide them
across in exchange for food.
You are a subject of Joseon.
Yesterday, you Ied the way
for your King,
and tomorrow,
you would do the same for the enemy?
After helping the King cross,
I received not even a handful of grain.
I am headed to Namhan Fortress.
Come with me, and I will
reward you for your troubles.
I have a young granddaughter
to care for.
The child at the river bank?
Her parents were Iost
in the flood a few years ago.
I'm the only family
she has Ieft.
Then I will care
for the child, too.
Come with me to the fortress.
It's quite a journey from here.
I advise you to head to the West Gate.
The road is steeper,
but it's the quickest way.
I swear to take care of
both of you.
Will you really not follow me?
I must return to my home,
my Iord.
Music by Ryuichi Sakamoto
Associate Producer HAN Heung-seok
Based on the Novel by KIM Hoon
They say the King
arrived Iast night.
I guess the barbarians
have finally invaded.
Look at them.
I doubt they'II even put up a fight.
Get into formation.
They didn't bring
even a handful of rice.
Don't you think
we should get out of here?
Half the fortress village
has already packed up and fled.
You have somewhere else
you can go?
This is where we rode out
the first Qing invasion.
Yeah, that's true, but...
I'm scared we'II be dragged
into war if we stay.
Live or die,
I will stand by this place.
If you want to Ieave, go.
You're too harsh with me.
Where would I go without you?
Your Majesty, the Minister
of the Interior has arrived!
Does the enemy really talk
of a peace treaty?
The Qing general demands to know
why Joseon broke
the promise of brotherhood.
He only wants to
renew the pledge.
He has no intention
of starting a war.
Have you seen the army
that follows them?
I saw nothing but the advance party
Ied by General Ingguldai.
You are so naive, Minister Choi.
How can we believe the words
of the barbarians?
I can only tell you
what I witnessed at the enemy camp.
And what are the conditions
for this peace treaty?
Will we be forced to terminate
our allegiance to the Ming Empire?
Your Majesty,
I'm obliged to tell you...
Will the Joseon Court
meet our demands?
They are narrow-minded enough
to value moral obligations the most.
I don't expect
they will give in easily.
What is their alternative?
They'II buy themselves time
to think of a way out.
And if we give them the time
they seek, will they succeed?
Why are you people of Joseon
so foolish?
Sir, I am a man of
the Qing Empire now.
The mountain is steep,
and the fortress Iooks solid.
Yes, but Joseon walls are flimsy.
With enough force,
the fortress will collapse on its own.
Once the wooden fences
are complete,
block all paths in
and out of the fortress.
Yes, sir.
We must send them
the crown prince?
They insist we send
His Highness as a hostage.
Otherwise, there will be no chance
for a peace treaty.
The situation is extremely urgent.
I will go.
Stay out of this.
But Your Majesty...
Speak your minds, all of you.
The crown prince demonstrates
an honorable concern for his country.
Even if he is sent
to the barbarians,
I'm sure his honor
will guarantee his safe return.
Does Minister Choi agree?
Your Majesty,
regretfully, I must tell you,
if we fail to negotiate
a peace treaty now, we...
Your Majesty!
You must behead anyone
who would utter such vile words!
Whose men are they who would send
the crown prince as a hostage?
It should be their heads
we send to the enemy,
not the crown prince.
That would be the end of
the barbarians' insolent requests.
Minister Kim speaks the truth.
As a Ioyal subject,
I believe it is unthinkable
we would send
the crown prince away.
Don't do it, Your Majesty!
Don't do it, Your Majesty!
Don't do it, Your Majesty.
This cannot happen.
Your Majesty,
the enemy has traveled a Iong way.
They are exhausted.
Put a bounty on their heads
and demonstrate to our soldiers
an indomitable will to fight on.
Are we best serving the country
by using swords in place of words?
What do you mean by words?
Are we to beg for our Iives?
It is not death I fear,
but the future of the country.
And you would hand over the future of
our country to the barbarians?
Your Majesty,
if we do not send
the crown prince,
I fear their demands will
only grow harsher.
If the crown prince is sent,
you will be scorned by the barbarians
and their demands
will grow harsher.
- Your Majesty!
- Enough!
I understand.
You may Ieave, all of you.
Chief Eunuch, hurry!
Summon the royal doctor
to care for the royal body.
How many soldiers
are in the fortress now?
Including those at the fortress
under my command,
the Iocal soldiers
from the nearby provinces,
and the men drafted from the village,
we have a total of 1 3,000.
I understand the enemy numbers
ten times that.
This fortress is
built on a natural barrier.
If our will remains firm,
we will succeed in defending ourselves.
I'm more worried
about the hunger and cold
than the enemy outside the walls.
Are you trying to get
yourself killed?
I told you
not to start a fire along the wall.
He doesn't know any better.
PIease forgive him, my Iord.
What's all the commotion?
Sir, these men disobeyed
a direct order and set a fire.
My brother here has
never been in the army, my Iord.
He has very Iittle experience.
Forgive him just this once.
I am ignorant about these things,
my Iord.
But if you were to send us
to fight in this brutal cold,
shouldn't you make sure
we don't freeze to death?
How dare you!
It is reckless to start a fire
along the fortress wall.
If one man starts a fire,
others will do the same
and then the enemy will know exactly
where our soldiers are positioned.
Could you at Ieast
give us straw bags?
Straw bags?
This is the Minister of Rites.
Speak up!
If you collect straw bags
and distribute them among us soldiers,
we'II get shelter from the snow
and the cold earth beneath.
What is your name?
Nal-soe, sir.
I am a blacksmith.
If I choose not to send the crown prince,
how do you think they will react?
They will demand
Your Majesty instead.
And if I refuse?
Then they will gather their forces
and breach the fortress walls.
Is this their idea, or yours?
It is what their interpreter told me.
He rides alongside General Ingguldai.
But I can't send the crown prince.
How could a father hand his own son
over to the enemy?
With your permission,
I will go to the Qing camp
and find a way.
Do you think there's still a chance
to negotiate?
I would choose death by the enemy's sword
over Iingering here a moment Ionger.
But the fortress is surrounded.
Don't worry, Your Majesty.
I'II find a way,
no matter what the cost is.
How much food is Ieft
for the soldiers?
With the current rations,
the food will Iast a month.
If we reduce the rations,
we can hold out Ionger.
But I am worried by how much Ionger,
and how much Iess.
Cut the rations,
but not by too much.
How much do we feed them per day?
Do I have to tell you everything?
No, Your Majesty.
Your Majesty,
the soldiers guarding the wall
are suffering from extreme cold.
They can barely grip their spears
because of frostbite.
Your Majesty, the soldiers are used to
sleeping out in the open.
When the clouds clear
and the sun shines,
they will recover their strength.
Our soldiers are freezing to death,
and you would await the sun?
If our soldiers
are freezing and dispirited,
then the same must be true
of the enemy.
If the enemy soldiers suffer,
it is acceptable
that ours do as well?
It's not
that it's acceptable but...
Why don't we collect spare clothes
from the nobles and royal family
so that the soldiers can have
something dry to wear?
Divesting the royal family
of their attire
is a blunder that will result
in a Ioss of prestige.
And if the nobles
are stripped of their dignity,
what hope will the cold and Ionely
people of this fortress have?
The Prime Minister's words
make sense.
What if we collect straw bags
and give them to the soldiers?
Straw bags?
Yes, Your Majesty.
If we collect all the spare straw bags
in the fortress,
the soldiers can use them
to shelter
themselves from
the snow and cold.
Minister Kim's plan is sound.
So be it.
Your Majesty's grace
is immeasurable!
Your Majesty's grace
is immeasurable!
General Ingguldai welcomed you
as an ambassador,
but your King has Iocked himself
in his fortress and not once Iooked out.
The King is unsure of how to greet
guests bearing swords and spears.
PIease be forgiving.
Don't you see it's the Joseon's fault
we've come here armed?
You've ignored our pact of brotherhood
and chosen to remain Ioyal to the Ming.
Joseon is brother-in-arms
to the Qing,
but the Ming
is our parent country.
Is the older brother
not generous enough
to understand the
younger brother's plight?
The Khan has been generous
in having spared your Iife so far
and in not yet destroying
the fortress.
Remember that, Mr. Choi.
A gift from the Joseon King.
Your face has
grown thin and gaunt.
How is Iife inside the fortress?
I appreciate your concern.
I seek your counsel in the hopes
of finding a way out of the fortress.
I have already told you
what I want.
We'II do everything possible
except handing over the crown prince.
What is it you seek?
Do you want to fight with nothing
but that Iittle wall between us?
There must be another way.
It is your King's fault
we are where
we find ourselves today.
The Emperor seeks justice
by punishing your King.
This is not the fault of the King,
but of his subjects.
I myself would accept
whatever punishment I am due.
What sort of punishment
do you seek?
Are you willing to
give your Iife?
If my Iife would open
a path to peace, then...
There is no alternative.
Bring the crown prince.
And if you wish to meet again,
I suggest you hurry.
Soon the Khan will arrive.
Your Majesty,
Minister Choi was sent to
the enemy's camp to beg for our Iives.
Such an act disgraces both the
crown prince and Your Majesty!
There is always a traitor,
even in peaceful times.
But Minister Choi has thrown
the crown prince
into the mouth of the enemy.
Everyone within the fortress
calls him Son of Ingguldai!
I beseech you, cut off his head
and send it to the enemy.
Minister Choi's beheading
is the only appropriate action.
Behead Minister Choi!
Behead Minister Choi!
We are surrounded
by the Qing army
and yet we would kill
one another!
Your Majesty,
cut my head off as they suggest.
Have the crown prince
take it to the enemy.
Perhaps that will secure
a peace treaty.
Make no further mention of
sending the crown prince.
I cannot grant that request.
Your Majesty,
the entire nation is infuriated
by Minister Choi's talk of
a peace treaty.
This is our opportunity to
invoke the soldiers' indignation.
PIease, dispatch a manifesto
calling for a righteous army.
Your Majesty might also pay a visit
to the soldiers,
and issue a royal order
for a fight.
Your Majesty,
General Ingguldai made clear
the Khan will arrive soon.
The Qing Emperor is coming?
So the general told me.
Your Majesty,
Minister Choi has been
plotting with the enemy.
Ingguldai invents stories
to intimidate us.
The Khan is at war
with Ming China.
He wouldn't Ieave Shenyang
and journey all the way here in the cold.
But if the Khan
is indeed coming,
now is not the time to fight.
If the Khan is coming,
that is all the more reason to fight.
If we can't fight off the enemy
before the Khan arrives,
it will be even
more difficult afterwards.
- I agree with Minister Kim.
- But Your Majesty!
I will go up to the ramparts
and encourage the soldiers.
I will issue a manifesto
calling for the southern armies.
Minister Kim, draft the Ietter.
Yes, Your Majesty.
I'II treat this as an order.
Your Majesty's grace
is immeasurable.
Your Majesty's grace
is immeasurable!
The royal court is too poor
to protect you from the cold.
This is the result of
my lacking virtue.
I watch you shivering
in your thin clothes.
I see that your skin is chapped,
and your toes frozen.
You have bared your bodies
to guard the fortress,
and this causes me great pain.
With foul words, the enemy has
laid bare their true intentions.
How can we admonish these men
who are as Iowly as beasts?
Their hearts are
dark as those of animals.
AII Iines of communication
have been severed.
No option remains but war!
If the King and his subjects will
defend the fortress
with all their hearts,
united with the Great Cause,
we can drive the enemy
back to their country.
Our fortress is isolated,
and the danger could not be graver.
Your Majesty is perched
in the most precarious place.
Armies of the southern provinces
must come to our aid immediately.
Loyal subjects of the King,
hurry along!
Deliver this Ietter and return
with the southern armies.
I will execute your order
with all my Iife!
Soldiers of the fortress, Iisten.
Those that distinguish themselves
in the battle against the barbarians
will be handsomely rewarded
when we return to the capital!
The fate of the country
is in your hands.
The enemy camp Iies dead ahead.
Spears at the ready!
Riflemen, pack your gunpowder.
Pack your gunpowder.
Pack your gunpowder.
A barbarian's head is worth
30 pieces of silver.
If we return with a head
in each hand, we'II be rich.
Dead men cannot be rich.
Don't get too excited.
Just stay behind me.
You worry too much.
I don't plan on dying
before I marry.
It's an ambush!
Take cover! Return fire!
Run, Chil-bok!
Can you fix this?
The rifle's bent,
so its sights are off.
There are many other weapons
that do not work well.
The barbarians charged
with their swords drawn,
while our crooked weapons
missed all their targets.
Why are you telling me this
and not your superior officers?
I have talked to them
about this repeatedly, sir,
but nobody Iistens.
We are invisible to them.
What's worse, we were beaten,
and they claimed
we tried to escape the battle.
What makes you think
I'II Iisten to you?
It was you who got us
the straw bags, was it not?
It was the King's mercy.
Then please,
tell this to the King as well.
Get into Iine!
Hurry up!
Move quickly,
if you wish to Iive.
That's Namhan Fortress down below.
What do they mean to do,
hiding within those walls?
They must have some kind of plan.
They would probably try to summon
an army from the provinces.
An army?
I haven't seen a single Joseon soldier
since we crossed the Yalu river.
They await their forces
from the south.
How foolish.
We have to finish
before the Khan arrives!
Any news from the southern armies?
It seems all paths to the fortress
are blocked by the enemy.
Do we sit and wait for them
to break down our walls then?
There is a rumor the court seeks
an accord with the barbarians.
I'm afraid the southern armies are
hesitant to fight.
But we dispatched a manifesto
ordering them to rescue the court!
The messenger has been sent.
We'II have word soon.
Can we hold out
until we hear from them?
Supplies officer, speak frankly.
My apologies for this report,
but there are many women
and elderly in the fortress.
If we reduce their food rations,
our soldiers will Iast Ionger.
What does Minister Choi think?
Minister Choi is not here today.
The demands for his execution
have persisted day and night.
Surely, he's gone to Ingguldai
to beg for his Iife.
There are requests for
your execution as well, Prime Minister.
Your Majesty,
the food supply is the worrisome,
but dull blades and worn-out armor
are also concerning.
Is the Minister of Defense
aware of this?
Prime Minister, say something.
Are you not the
army's commanding general?
Your Majesty...
Among the soldiers in the fortress,
there's a blacksmith.
Perhaps we can ask him
to repair the weapons?
We have such a man in the army?
Yes, Your Majesty.
PIease exempt the blacksmith
from his sentry duty
so that he can repair
the weapons.
One can serve the country
wherever possible.
Have him fix
the weapons immediately.
Can these words be true?
Yes, Your Majesty.
The barbarians were intimidated
by our soldiers.
They threw down their
weapons and fled.
This is wonderful news.
Which general Ied the battle?
Fortress Commander Lee Shi-baek
Ied the soldiers.
His bravery and
Ioyalty must be hailed.
Your Majesty,
Iet the news of our first victory
be spread far and wide
so the southern armies
will come running.
Yes, it should be so.
Send praise on my behalf to soldiers
returning from this victorious battle.
Yes, Your Majesty.
Your Majesty,
the fortress commander brought
a small child with him upon his return.
A small child?
A young girl was Ieft alone
outside the North Gate.
Isn't the enemy camped
outside the North Gate?
It's heavily fortified.
Not even our best men have made it through.
But the child managed to slip past
the enemy and into the fortress.
It is an auspicious sign.
Bring me the child.
Your Majesty,
you would bring a peasant's child
into the royal court?
Let her in.
She came on a victorious day.
It must be a good sign.
Why did you Ieave your home?
You were asked a question.
I came in search of
my grandfather.
Was your grandfather taken
by the Qing soldiers?
Her grandfather is the boatman
who Ied Your Majesty across
the frozen river.
He Ieft home the next day
and never returned.
It's the granddaughter of
that boatman...
This is such a good karma,
is it not?
Yes, Your Majesty.
What is your name?
My name is Naru.
You were named after
the pier where you were born?
What a pretty name.
Prime Minister, send word to Iook for
this child's grandfather.
Yes, Your Majesty.
Minister Kim, can you arrange a place
for this child to stay in the meantime?
Why do you not answer?
I've heard you
take excellent care of children.
Yes, Your Majesty.
Is anyone home?
Yes, sir!
My Iord?
This child will stay here for now.
Wash her and give her food.
Are you really going to find
my grandfather?
Do as I've said.
Yes, sir.
Come with me.
Where'd you find Iiquor
in this camp?
It's a gift from His Majesty.
I have for a friend the fortress commander
who strikes terror into the Khan.
I'm so Iucky to drink this
in a time of war.
You don't seem
that happy about the victory.
That's not true.
I am merely afraid our swords will
cut off the possibility for peace.
My sword cuts only enemies.
Can we truly protect the fortress
by cutting off a few enemy heads?
A rumor that your adversaries
are begging for your head
has reached the fortress walls.
That rumor reached me as well.
Do you think my head
would suffice?
If so, you are welcome to cut it off
and use it to save the fortress.
I don't think it's worth enough.
I can neither open the fortress gate
nor protect it with my useless head.
Useless as it may be,
I suggest you keep it
so we can have a drink together
from time to time.
Whose side are you on, Commander?
Neither side.
I am merely a sentry defending
against the enemy.
Had I known this,
I would have
become a military man Iike you.
We risk our Iives for this war,
and this is what they feed us?
To hell with them.
Stop complaining and eat.
Half the people
in this fortress are starving.
Those poor creatures.
Poor, my ass!
They're all better fed
than we are.
Your Majesty, our horses are
starving to death as we speak.
Can we not find grass
to feed them?
The supplies in the fortress
are exhausted,
while the enemy
continues to ambush us.
Your Majesty,
we should strip thatched roofs,
and retrieve the straw bags
from the soliders
to make porridge
and feed the horses.
Your Majesty,
the horses eat the most by far.
Even if we feed them the straw bags,
they won't survive much Ionger.
The comfort of the soldiers
is the more urgent...
Your Majesty,
Minister Kim's suggestion
has not been thought through.
Humans can endure the cold
by sheer force of will
but the horses are animals.
They won't survive.
Does Minister Kim intend to fight
without cavalry?
It's difficult to find a soldier
unaffected by frostbite.
If you take their straw bags now
it will only make things worse.
We can fight without horses,
but not without soldiers.
What is your opinion,
Minister Choi?
It is easier to give out than
to take back.
Horses are animals.
Their feelings won't be hurt.
But our soldiers are humans.
If we take what is theirs,
they'II be outraged.
Your Majesty,
I would rather strip off my own robes
to clothe the soldiers.
The horses are essential to
our military's strength.
Without a cavalry, how can we
maintain Your Majesty's dignity
or plan a battle
outside the fortress?
PIease heed my words,
Your Majesty.
PIease heed our words,
Your Majesty.
I understand.
So be it.
Rip off whatever you can!
We'II use it as horse feed!
How can you do this?
Sir, what will
we do against the cold?
This is for
the sake of the country.
When the war is over,
the King will repay you.
Stay with your neighbors
until then.
We must finish before sundown.
Look how they devour everything.
Pity I wasn't born a horse.
How foolish of them to do this.
How did you manage to get
that head in all the chaos?
My Iegs went Iimp
at the thought of it.
Hey, how much silver
is a barbarian's head worth?
I'II just ask for
a table heaped with food.
Is this the messenger we sent?
It is indeed.
I'm telling you,
a table heaped with food
plus 30 pieces of silver!
You idiot!
Where did you find this head?
The soldier will be beheaded
as a warning to others.
Should we send another messenger?
The enemy's siege of the fortress
has intensified.
I am afraid another manifesto
would never make it out.
Though the enemies are numerous,
they cannot cover
every inch of ground.
But even our swift-footed
officer failed.
Who will make it through
with the manifesto?
Your Majesty,
you have many citizens
Iiving here.
I am sure there is
someone fit for the task.
Would you care to do it then,
Prime Minister?
Your Majesty, it is very fortunate
the manifesto did not fall into the enemy's hands.
But if this happens again,
and the Qing do sieze our Ietter,
it may well be used against us.
My Iord.
You've been waiting for me?
I've heard no word
of your grandfather.
It's cold.
Go to your room.
My Iords, would you care for
a bowl of horse soup?
You took away our straw bags
to feed the horses,
then killed the horses
to feed us.
We are so grateful.
Couldn't you have treated us
to the horses
while they were still plump?
Are you asking for prosecution?
When the Khan arrives,
we're all dead anyway.
What difference does
a few days make?
Rip that man's mouth!
Yes, sir!
Prime Minister,
please calm down.
I am the commanding general!
If I don't demonstrate
military discipline,
who will follow my orders?
If we kill this man,
we might tame the rest for now,
but eventually,
we will Iose their Ioyalty.
Minister Kim is right.
And if we Iose their Ioyalty,
the fortress will collapse from within.
If this happens again,
I'II have your neck first!
More Qing soldiers have gathered
since yesterday.
The Khan is coming...
Has the Khan arrived or not?
A rumor of the Khan's arrival
has spread all about us,
but no one has set eyes on him.
Is it true, what Minister Choi
heard from the enemy camp?
General Ingguldai does not
usually engage in falsehoods.
Minister Choi seems
to know him quite well.
According to the fortress commander,
a Iarge number of enemy soldiers have
gathered over the past few days.
Minister of Defense, is this true?
Yes, Your Majesty.
Your Majesty!
Send me to the enemy camp again.
I will find out
with my own eyes.
If people hear about this,
who will risk their Iives
to fight the enemy?
I will not discuss a peace treaty.
With the New Year approaching,
I will take wine and meat as a gift,
as to demonstrate Majesty's generosity.
Meanwhile, I will observe their camp.
Minister Choi has a point.
Even barbarians would understand
the custom of sending New Year's gifts.
Your Majesty, Iast time Minister Choi
visited the barbarians...
The Prime Minister
will accompany him.
Prime Minister, you were going to say
that we can't trust Minister Choi, no?
So you will go
and observe with him.
Your Majesty... I...
I will not forget your Ioyalty
after my return to the capital.
Your Majesty's grace
is immeasurable...
These cannons came
from the West.
We took them during a battle
with the Ming.
A couple of shots
from these will reduce
your Iittle fortress to rubble.
Mr. Jeong, I understand you
are originally from Joseon.
How can you speak so carelessly?
Look, Prime Minister.
My parents were serfs,
so I was born a serf.
In Joseon,
serfs are not considered human.
Never call me
a man of Joseon again.
General Ingguldai says
you should take back your gifts.
Are you not satisfied
with the gifts we brought?
Feed your hungry King.
As you can see,
we have plenty of food here.
We've been unable to carry out
the usual formalities,
but these are the New Year's gifts
from our King.
AII Iands of Joseon
are already ours.
Thus, the wine and meat of Joseon
are our as well.
I know you're starving
in that stony burrow of yours.
You should feed your people
with this meat.
We have come all this way
carrying these gifts for you...
To return with them would be...
Take them back.
Are you trying to
provoke the general?
I understand the Khan is here.
Is he truly here?
AIIow us to greet him,
even if from a distance.
Tell your King, he himself
must come to greet the Khan.
When would you have that be?
The Khan will summon your King
in due time.
This is a grave insult!
How dare they refuse the royal gifts?
Behead Minister Choi and
send his head to the barbarians
to restore Your Majesty's dignity.
Yes, Your Majesty!
How dare a barbarian general reject
Your Majesty's gift?
The Prime Minister should not
escape punishment either.
PIease heed our words!
PIease heed our words!
Your Majesty,
I saw Iadders at the Qing camp.
The Qing soldiers were forcing
the hostage slaves to build Iadders.
Their Iengths exceed
the height of the fortress wall.
We saw Iarge cannons, too.
Cannons twice the size
of our own.
What about the Khan?
Did you see him?
Not with my own eyes,
but it appeared the enemy is preparing
for an attack to coincide with his arrival.
These two men are exaggerating
to escape punishment.
Your Majesty!
What we say is true!
They have disgraced Your Majesty,
and our country in front of
those brutal barbarians!
You should punish them!
You should punish them!
AIthough the enemy rejected
our gifts,
Your Majesty has taught proper manners
to those ignorant barbarians.
Now is not the time
for divisions among us.
It is the time to unite our forces
into defending the fortress.
If the enemy fires its cannons and
climbs up the fortress walls...
do we stand a chance?
What if we were to strike first?
Strike first?
Yes, Your Majesty.
Do you think we can win?
On my way to the camp,
their defences seemed weaker
outside the North Gate.
If we deploy our best soldiers,
we will defeat our enemies
and demonstrate
Your Majesty's dignity.
What does Minister Kim think?
Our reinforcements must be
near the fortress.
I entreat you, make a show
of our determination to fight.
What does the
Minister of Defense think?
The Prime Minister saw
the enemy camp himself.
He must be able to come up
with a victorious plan.
Minister Choi,
give us your thoughts.
If we are going to fight,
it must not Iose this battle.
Why does Minister Choi think of Iosing
the fight even before it has begun?
Your Majesty,
if we opt for a surprise attack,
we certainly have a chance of winning!
As this is the consensus,
Prime Minister,
execute an attack
when you see fit.
I'II wager my Iife on this,
Your Majesty!
The fate of this country
is in your hands,
but do not fear!
The enemy seems to
have Iet down their guard.
You will set fire to their barricades
and open an avenue for attack.
If you encounter the enemy,
return fire using the higher ground
to your advantage.
I will beat the drum to signal
an advance or a retreat.
Prime Minister!
The fortress is surrounded
by an ominous calm.
Send a scout ahead
of the main forces.
Do you challenge a direct order?
I am the commanding general
executing the King's command.
The wind is also a concern.
It's been picking up in the afternoons.
Are you trying to avoid a battle
because of a Iittle wind?
Even the best rifleman cannot Ioad
gunpowder if the wind is too strong.
Today is a fortuitous day
I selected with the aid of a shaman.
Raise no further objections.
Sound the drum to advance!
What are you doing?
Take my sword to drive
the soldiers forward.
Yes, sir!
Those who refuse will be killed!
It's a deer!
What a Iuck!
We'II have meat for dinner tonight.
Mark the Iocation.
We'II retrieve it when we return.
Yes, sir.
There's no sign of the enemy, sir.
Station soldiers in the north,
east, and west.
Send the scouts ahead.
Yes, sir!
Retreat behind the barricades!
Regroup behind the barricades.
It's a cavalry unit.
Stay calm until they're closer.
Hold your fire until my command!
Hold your fire!
Do not shoot!
Reload! Hurry!
We must call them back.
Send in more soldiers.
It's too Iate.
Send the remaining soldiers!
This battle must be won!
If we send in reinforcements now,
they'II all die, too.
Are you defying a direct order?
We can't kill
all of our soldiers!
What are you waiting for?
Beat the retreat drum!
It's the retreat signal!
Raise the flag!
Retreat to the mountain.
Retreat! Retreat!
Chase them!
Don't Iet them get away!
Can you see their bodies
from the ramparts?
By now they would be
covered in snow...
Shouldn't we at Ieast attempt
to bury them?
Your Majesty, Ieave that to me.
Ease your sacred mind.
Ease my mind?
Three hundred soldiers are dead.
Someone must be held responsible.
If you hold me accountable
for this Ioss,
I will accept the responsibility
with my Iife.
But if such responsibility
calls for death,
then the men who refused to
send reinforcements
and were unable to execute
a timely retreat
should also be punished.
Who are they?
Fortress Commander Lee
and his Iieutenant.
I ordered him to send reinforcements,
but he ignored my command.
Is this true?
It was already too Iate,
Your Majesty.
How can it ever be too Iate
to save our dying soldiers?
I saw the situation was dire
and ordered the retreat.
But his Iieutenant did not pull
the soldiers out quickly enough.
PIease put Commander Lee
and his Iieutenant to death,
and demonstrate
our military discipline.
Is this what truly happened?
Ask the staff officers who were with me.
They saw everything.
The Prime Minister speaks the truth,
Your Majesty.
Your Majesty,
the fortress commander
would never do something Iike this.
I understand Minister Choi and
Commander Lee are childhood friends.
Now Minister Choi mixes public matters
with his personal feelings.
Commander Lee is a distinguished officer
who has fought in many battles.
If you execute him,
the morale of the soldiers
will suffer greatly.
You must maintain military discipline,
Your Majesty!
An officer who Ioses
all of his soldiers
cannot avoid responsibility.
Administer thirty Iashes
to the fortress commander
and execute the Iieutenant.
Your Majesty! My Iieutenant
was only following orders!
Spare his Iife and take my own!
Furthermore, the Prime Minister
will be relieved of his position
as commanding general.
Minister Kim will henceforth assume
the role of commanding general.
- Your Majesty...
- This is a royal order.
There will be
no further discussion!
Is this even possible?
If we time it precisely with
the arrival of the reinforcements,
and attack from both inside
and outside,
then yes, it's possible.
When can it be done?
The fifteenth of January.
How can you be sure
the southern armies
received our Ietter?
I told them to Iight a signal fire
when ready.
A monk entered the fortress
a couple of days ago
and reported seeing a camp of soldiers
Ied by the field marshal.
The field marshal has come?
Yes, Your Majesty.
The monk said the Joseon soldiers
numbered in the tens of thousands.
If we Iaunch a
surprise attack at night,
we have a chance of winning.
Can you get this Ietter out
of the fortress?
If there's a way in,
there's a way out.
I will select the right messenger
and send him out.
Your Majesty,
there's not much food Ieft.
If a messenger can't breach
the enemy's Iine,
we won't Iast much Ionger.
Only Fortress Commander Lee
and I know about this.
I am worried that if word gets out
the mission would be jeopardized.
I understand.
How can you assign such an important task
to a Iowly blacksmith?
When the country is in danger,
all should do their duty, high and Iow alike.
But nothing was never alike
when it came to Iiving day to day.
There must be someone more suitable
for this mission than me.
The officers here aren't familiar with
the terrain surrounding the fortress.
You're the only man I can trust.
You ask too much of him,
don't you think?
Why are you asking him instead of
the noblemen to risk his Iife?
Absolutely not!
If I do this, will the war end?
If you deliver the Ietter,
the southern armies will come.
The village people will return
to their way of Iife
only after the
royal court has Ieft.
Way of Iife?
Everyone is already dead.
What Iife do you speak of?
During the first invasion,
the barbarians attacked
our village,
killed all our men
and raped all the women.
That's enough.
Nal-soe Iost his wife and
newborn daughter right before his eyes.
But the King and his noblemen
escaped to Ganghwa Island.
Where were you then, Minister?
I said that's enough!
I was never able to find
my parents' bodies.
Did you have breakfast?
Yes, sir.
I had a Iot to eat in the kitchen.
I am fine.
You eat it.
But if you don't eat
rice cake soup,
you will not properly age
another year.
I've aged plenty already.
Must I age more?
But you should eat...
I'm full.
This is food given by the King.
I can't just throw the rest away.
Would you finish it for me?
Do you really want me
to empty this bowl?
If this soup is not eaten,
I'm afraid the King will punish me.
PIease don't worry.
I will finish it for you.
What is that I see?
The Joseon King is performing
a New Year's Day ritual
in honor of the
Ming Emperor in Peking.
In honor of the
Ming Emperor in Peking?
Your Majesty, this is entirely my fault.
Grant me permission to fire upon them.
Ready the cannons!
Ready the cannons!
Hold your fire.
Hold your fire!
It is inauspicious to smell
gunpowder on New Year's Day.
I cannot bear to witness
such irreverence.
Leave them be.
They're merely doing
what they've always done.
Fourth bow!
Your Majesty,
in my opinion,
the reason the Khan has come
is not to destroy the fortress
from the outside,
but to open it from within.
I beseech you, send him a Ietter
in accordance with proper protocol.
This is different from your having sent
Ingguldai New Year's gift.
Protocol demands two kings to face each other
from a distance with the border between them.
If one king visits another with
no official announcement,
then it is beyond
any discussion of proper protocol.
Your Majesty,
the Khan is at war with Ming China.
He can scarcely afford to
remain here Iong.
We must open the gate
while the Khan is still here.
No. That is precisely why
we must not open the gates.
Since the Khan will not remain
much Ionger,
they'II topple the fortress walls
if we don't open the gates now.
If we dispatch the Ietter now,
the Khan will call himself Emperor
and you will become his subject.
Is Your Majesty willing to become
the Khan's subject?
Your Majesty,
it pains me to say this,
there is no path
not worth exploring...
Minister Choi would send you straight
into the jaws of the enemy.
The path to survival may very well
run through the mouth of enemy!
There may be a place
worthy enough to die upon.
But how could that be
the jaws of the enemy?
I said enough!
Your Majesty, how can we bow
before such ruthless barbarians?
This should not and cannot happen.
We cannot serve two emperors
under the same sun.
Have you forgotten how the Ming came to
our rescue when the Japanese invaded?
It's true, Your Majesty!
This cannot happen!
If you will not stop, I will.
Your Majesty!
What is the purpose of
the dignity and morale they speak of?
Mustn't we first survive
in order to honor these values?
If you insist on going,
take me with you.
The enemy is everywhere.
Two men will be easily spotted.
You stay and care for
the blacksmith's until I return.
If you Ieave, I will be forced
back up to the ramparts.
If I succeed,
everyone in the fortress can Iive.
But if something happens to you...
Don't talk nonsense.
I won't die,
not before I see you married.
You better make it back...
The King will reward you greatly
upon your successful return.
If I succeed,
it won't be for the King's sake.
It matters not to me whether the King
is on the side of the Qing or the Ming.
I merely dream of a world where
we can sow in the spring,
harvest in the autumn,
and eat through the winter.
This winter has been
so Iong and cruel.
It is mid-winter now.
Spring is not far off.
Only those who survive
the harsh winter
get to see the spring.
Minister Choi...
the King's Ietter
has Ieft the fortress.
He can't have gotten far.
Search for him.
Yes, sir!
Your Majesty,
if we divide our soldiers and
attack from every direction,
we can breach the fortress
in a single night.
The generals await your order.
Do you truly not understand
the difference
between my presence here
and my absence?
Do you think that
I would send soldiers
to acquire such
a small fortress?
The Joseon King must come to me
on his own.
That will establish
my dignity far and wide.
My apologies for speaking
so rashly.
Bring me a scribe.
I will send a Ietter
to the Joseon King.
You insist on making
yourself an enemy
by opposing my will
only to bring misfortune upon yourself.
But I am to blame
for your lack of respect.
It was I who determined to lead
a long expedition,
and I who crossed many rivers
to meet Joseon 's insolent people.
If you wish to live,
open the fortress gates
and come to me.
I will hear your wishes.
Have no fear,
for you can talk to me.
If you wish to die,
then remain hidden
behind your walls.
If you wish to fight,
then under the full moon,
I will breach your fortress walls
and acquaint you
with the mandate of destiny.
He wants me to Ieave the fortress.
If I go... what will happen?
Your Majesty, you are
the ruler of this country.
Now is not the time
to seek our opinion.
What do you suppose I do?
Make clear your sacred intention
and we will accept it.
I want to Iive.
That is my intention.
Your Majesty,
if you wish to Iive, then reply to
this Ietter and open a Iine of dialogue.
The wish to Iive is noble.
If you have truly set your mind on Iife,
please, send no reply at all.
What happened to the
messenger you sent?
The moon is nearly full.
When will the southern
armies arrive?
Your Majesty, please remain strong.
Hold out just a Iittle while Ionger.
The Khan has vowed to destroy the walls
before the next full moon!
It's my Iife they seek!
There is still time
before the next full moon.
The southern armies
will Iight the signal fires.
Your Majesty,
what signal fires?
What are you talking of?
How could you make such important plans
without consulting us?
Minister Kim
has no military experience.
How could you entrust him
with the fate of the country?
So I should rely on you,
Prime Minister?
You can save me?
We find ourselves in this position
because of Minister Kim,
who rejected
any overtures of peace.
Let Minister Kim write
our reply to the Khan
and tell the Khan of Your Majesty's
wish to Iive.
AII right.
Minister Kim,
send a reply to the Khan.
Compose a courteous Ietter
and tell him of my wishes.
Your Majesty,
I'd rather die than kneel before
the barbarians and beg for my Iife.
Why do you keep speaking of death
when I told you I wished to Iive?
Minister Kim cannot be
the only skilled writer among us.
PIease spare him from
having to violate his own integrity.
It is not Minister Kim alone
who has a way with words.
Who else among you is willing?
Are you afraid?
If you don't write a Ietter,
you fear death at the hands of the Khan.
If you write a Ietter begging
for your Iife,
you fear you'II go down in
history as a traitor!
Your Majesty,
I will write the Ietter.
Are you all right?
Where am I?
Don't worry.
You're in a camp under the command
of the field marshal.
We have the King's Ietter.
We've already passed it
along to the marshal.
Did you come all the way
from Namhan Fortress by yourself?
You've made
a very difficult journey.
Are you a military officer?
May I ask your name and rank?
I'm not a military officer.
My name is Nal-soe.
I am a blacksmith.
A blacksmith?
Who entrusted this Ietter to you?
The Minister of Rites,
Sang-heon Kim.
Pig grease.
It helps the frostbite.
This is why you came?
Have you heard anything?
About my brother Nal-soe
or about the southern armies?
There is no difference
between the two.
For you, word of the southern armies
is much more important.
Be careful on your way back.
Chil-bok, please.
If I Ieave my post for too Iong,
I'II be flogged.
What're you up to?
Why are you not in bed?
It's cold and you were Iate.
I waited up for you.
Are these fish?
They're called perch.
It Iives near the edge of the river
and has a sweet taste.
How do you know
so much about fish?
It's the first fish my grandfather
catches when the spring comes.
When the Songpa River melts,
I'II catch one for you.
When will the river melt?
When the dandelions bloom.
When winter is over,
the dandelions will bloom.
No, Your Majesty!
This is preposterous,
Your Majesty!
Your Majesty,
Minister Choi's Ietter would hand
our country over to the Qing!
Burn the Ietter immediately
and execute its traitorous author, Your Majesty!
Mount his head as an example to
all our forces!
Your Majesty,
I couldn't adequately convey
Your Majesty's intentions on paper.
If this Ietter needs correction,
please Iet me know.
Is this really a Ietter for Iife?
It is not a Ietter written
to survive.
He is right.
This is not just a Ietter,
but a path.
It is the path
Your Majesty should follow.
The soldiers are
enduring cold and hunger
to protect the fortress.
The soldiers on the wall
are Iosing their strength.
Tomorrow is the full moon.
Tonight, we'II see
the fire signal and
the southern armies will come.
If you don't send
the reply Ietter today,
the Qing army will come,
and they will destroy us.
It's just one night!
Why are you willing to surrender
without holding out one night?
The whole world can
crumble in a single night.
Minister Kim is noble,
and I am cowardly.
He is Ioyal,
and I am dim-witted.
But even if you must
kill me tomorrow,
please send this Ietter to
the Khan today!
Minister Choi has recognized
the Khan as the Emperor
and downgraded Your Majesty
as a servant of Qing.
Will Your Majesty prostrate
in front of the Khan?
Will you pour drinks
for the Khan?
Your Majesty,
there's nothing the strong
would not do to the weak,
and there's nothing
the weak wouldn't do to survive!
Is this Ietter really the path
you would take to survive?
Kim's words are righteous,
but they are only words.
He thinks words are
more important than Iife.
The survival that he
talks of is death itself!
I would rather accept a Iighter
sort of death
for a Iife heavier than death!
Death is never Iight.
Death does not allow Iife!
Choi cannot
distinguish Iife and death any more.
He's disgracing Iife!
Death cannot be endured,
but humiliation can be endured!
Your Majesty, do not choose death,
for it means the death of all your people!
Dying while fighting the enemy
is better for an honorable king
than begging for Iife
in front of his people.
I can neither accept
nor serve such a king.
If you wish to do so,
execute me here right now.
What does it mean to be the king?
If a king must crawl
through barbarians' Iegs
to open a path of Iife
for his people,
he should do so,
and people will follow
with all of their hearts.
If you must, behead me,
but please endure
this mortification of today!
I know we are in a time of war,
but why would they entrust
a royal document to a Iowly peasant Iike him?
He's right, general.
How can we be sure
the document is genuine?
The stamp on the Ietter is
no doubt the King's seal.
But if we Iight the signal fire
and are caught by the enemy,
it will only result in
our pointless deaths.
Namhan Fortress will not be
easily breached.
They will survive on their own.
He's right.
Based on what the blacksmith said,
it seems the enemy isn't far from here.
Let's monitor the situation
before making another move.
But then we would be defying
a royal order.
Who would suffer the consequences?
What if we simply
never received it?
Come inside.
I never trust you
hypocrite officials.
He's an enemy scout!
Don't Iet him get away!
There he is!
There must be
a Joseon camp nearby.
Follow them and find it.
Yes, sir.
If you deliver this,
the humiliation will taint your name
forever, even after the war.
I am willing to cast myself
a traitor for all eternity
if it stops the world
from crumbling.
Everyone in this world
will call you traitor.
When you return to the palace,
do not forsake Minister Kim.
He is the only Ioyal man
in the fortress.
You are also my Ioyal official.
From now on,
I am the traitor.
I'm going to die of cold
on this godforsaken wall...
They better hurry if they want us to
fight before we all freeze to death.
You have any more of
that grease?
They should have settled
this fight back in Seoul.
What was the point of dragging the war
all the way out here?
Do we know if the reinforcements
are truly on the way?
My brother is no ordinary man.
Wait and you'II see.
He'II bring the southern armies.
If they come as you say,
I'II Iet you marry my daughter.
I'm a man of my word.
Is she pretty?
You bet she is.
Where are you, Naru?
Your Majesty, you must evacuate.
Your Majesty!
Stop the attack, please!
You must stop at once!
I have come to deliver
a reply from the King of Joseon!
PIease, stop the attack!
What is he saying?
This is a reply to the Khan
from the Joseon King.
PIease, stop the attack!
Do not back down.
Those who retreat
will die by my sword.
Your Imperial Majesty!
This is the reply from the Joseon King.
PIease, order them to
halt the attack!
The King of Joseon has promised
to be your subject.
Your Imperial Majesty,
I know slaughter is not your intention.
The people of Joseon
are innocent in this war.
PIease, spare their Iives.
Snap out of it, Chil-bok!
I'II kill all of you
barbarian bastards.
When my brother returns...
You have finally grasped my will.
Stop the attack!
Stop the attack!
Are you all right?
Wake up.
Let's go back to our home.
Search every corner of the offices
and noblemen's residences!
Destroy all documents that
call the Qing barbarians!
I heard you submitted
your resignation.
The war is over now.
Someone must be held responsible.
I do not plan to avoid
that responsibility.
You assume more than your due.
If someone is to be held responsible
I cannot escape the blame.
What did the King get from the Khan
in return for Ieaving the fortress?
A promise not to dethrone His Majesty
or take him back to Shenyang, China.
What did you get
from the Khan in return?
The Khan promised not to harm
any of the surviving
soldiers or civilians.
You achieved all you wished, then.
My Iord,
we should go back to the capital
and rebuild the country together.
Wouldn't that be fulfilling
our responsibilities?
If there's a place for my death,
as there has been for my Iife,
it will not be under the feet
of the barbarians.
Why do you abandon
the path of Iife
and insist on going down
the path of death?
Is there really a path
for Iife in death?
What is the path of Iife
you speak of?
A new path that
only a Iiving man can walk.
Is that a path for the people
or for the king?
A path that the people and
their king will walk together.
I thought so, too.
But we were wrong.
The new path for the people
will only come once all things
of the old disappear.
even our King whom we have chosen.
That is what I realized
in this fortress.
Her name is Naru.
Can you take care of her?
She has nowhere to go.
I am ashamed to ask,
but this is my final request.
What will happen to you, sir?
I will face what I must face.
What's this for?
It's called the bellows.
You use it to stoke the fire.
I'II take care of her.
If my daughter were still alive,
she'd be about her age.
You have to be well.
Will you come back to see me?
I'II come back
when the dandelions bloom.
When the Songpa River melts,
I'II catch perch for you,
so you must come back.
AII right.
When the King of Joseon Ieaves the fortress,
he shall exit through the West Gate.
The King of Joseon is a transgressor,
and so he is not permitted
to pass through main gate in the south.
The King's procession is not permitted
to bring any guard or ornament.
The King of Joseon will take off
his royal robes
and dress in the navy clothes
of a courtier.
The King of Joseon will walk to
the base of the Emperor's throne.
He will bow 3 times
and prostrate himself 9 times
as a symbol of his surrender.
Where is the King going?
Back to the palace.
Then why is everyone crying?
The King is returning home,
I suppose they are happy.
Your Majesty, horses are not
allowed beyond this point.
How Iovely of you to come to me.
I will not speak of the past.
I wish to speak
only of the future.
Your mercy is immeasurable,
Your Imperial Majesty!
The King of Joseon will now
perform the ritual of 3 bows and 9 prostrations!
First bow!
The war ended on January 30, 1637
after 47 days.
Over 500,000 Joseon people
were taken by the Qing Empire as slaves.
Dandelions bloomed again that spring.
Naru, Iet's go fly our kite!
Don't go too far.
AII right!
Written and Directed by
HWANG Dong-hyuk