Brothers Jin-Seok (Bin Won) and Jin-Tae (Dong-Kun Jang) come from a family whose unremitting struggle with poverty has led them to place all their hopes in Jin-seok, the younger of the two. His older brother Jin-Tae shines shoes in order to raise money to send him to university, while their mother runs a noodle shop; the patriarch has passed away, leaving the little family to fend for themselves. Their precarious aspirations are shattered by the outbreak of the Korean War, when Jin-Seok is drafted and Jin-Tae joins up as well, in order to work for his brother's release. He has neither the influence nor the financial means to send Jin-Seok back home; his only hope lies in the acceptance of dangerous missions that will earn him the Medal of Honour and his brother's release. Jin-Seok, however, does not understand his brother's intentions, and mistakes his valiant bravery for misplaced patriotism and greedy ambition, until finally and tragically he is confronted by the truth. Upon its release, this moving war drama became the highest-grossing film in Korea.