The story opens with coal miners as young as 13-14 year old boys were forced working underground with very minimal clothing, a protection hat with a dorky lamp and some crappy mining tools. They were whipped like animals and roughly shoved to work harder if they hit a gas pipe.
Meanwhile in Seoul, a band clarinet player Kang Ok (played by Hwang Jung Min) with his only little daughter So Hee makes a living by playing in the Myeongdong Hotel. He was tricked by a fellow Korean to go to Japan. They found themselves working as hard labour in Hashima Island.A street thug Choi Chil Sung (played by So Ji Sub) often find himself in trouble fighting around the bullies in the camp. Life was indeed tough in the camp. The Korean labourers were often beaten and treated unfairly. Mal Nyeon (played by Lee Jung Hyun) is a comfort woman in the camp gets in various trouble however Chil Sung seems to protect her.
Then in a secret camp in China, an OSS agent and Korean independence fighter Park Mu Young (played by Song Joong Ki) is secretly send to Hashima Island to rescue another independence leader Yoon Hak Chul. Park seeks Kang Ok's help since he could speak Japanese. He sends a telegraph requesting for help however he found out that Yoon is actually a traitor. He has been secretly exploiting his own people's welfare and money. Park together with Kang Ok, So Hee, Mal Nyeon and Chil Sung teamed up to escape from the island for good. The US plane bombers dropped bombs across the island causing the place partially crippled. Yamada is planning to take over command from Daisuke who died in the bombing. Yamada knows the war between Japan and US will never end. He intends to kill all the Korean miners in the ground and blamed it on elsewhere.
Yoon pretends he is on the South Korean's side when Park and Kang Ok disclosed out his real identity. Park was angered on how Yoon cheated his people and betrayed his nation. Park gave Yoon a swift death by slitting his throat. The rest of the miners, women and kids will crawl out to escape to the ship nearby. During the escape, the Japanese discovered that the Koreans were running away. It was pure battle to the end. Many Koreans died during the battle to escape for freedom. Chil Sung lead his team to fight to the end with Park rushing through the injured to the ship. Yamada ordered his soldiers to start firing at the innocent people. So Hee threw a bottle of explosive towards Yamada igniting fire onto his body while Park stood up with the samurai sword and chopped his head off. The rest were stunned as Park announced it's over...the leader is dead....everyone is going home.
Chil Sung and Mal Nyeon died during the battle lying together. Kang Ok boarded the ship with So Hee. He begged Park to look after his daughter as he was injured as well. Kang Ok took his last breath and So Hee cried bitterly.
It was a story depicting the real life events where coal miners from South Korea and China were deployed to Hashima 'hell' island as forced labours. It is true because if you ever watched the episode of Infinity Challenge- MC Yoo Jae Suk and Haha visited the Koreans who lived through that time, the survivors tell the story. The workers were wearing like G-string panties climbing through the dirt and rough coal mines with little food to eat.
The movie is all about survival and escape to freedom from the Japanese. It was lucky that US bombed Nagasaki city in 1945 to end the Second World War. Otherwise the Japanese has conquered the whole of South East Asia.
Hwang Jung Min and So Ji Sub were the main leads however it seems to be Song Joong Ki's role is one to ignite the plan and freed the prisoners. Hah! He was the only one who survived with Kim Su An - the little girl from Train to Busan. If you are looking for pretty looking boys- i'm afraid there is none because everyone looked dirty and rough from the coal mines except their six-pack bodies. Heheh!
Well here's a treat- the casts took to the main page of BAZAAR magazine front page.
Now least everyone looks clean, neat and 'fresh' looking....