In 1980, a foreign journalist hires a down-on-his-luck taxi driver to take him to Gwangju, South Korea. They soon arrive to find a city under siege by student protesters and the military.
Based on a real-life story, the film centers on a taxi driver from Seoul who unintentionally becomes involved in the events of the Gwangju Uprising in 1980. It is based on German journalist Jürgen Hinzpeter‘s interactions with driver Kim Sa-bok; however, as Kim’s identity and real name were unknown at the time the film was made (Hinzpeter only knew him as “Kim Sa-bok”), most elements regarding his life and the events that happened to him outside of Gwangju are fictional.
The film was released on August 2, 2017, in South Korea. It was very positively received by critics, who praised its unique approach to depicting the Gwangju Uprising events, emotional weight, as well as the main character and his relationship with Hinzpeter, and was selected as the South Korean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards. The film was a notable commercial success: it was the second highest grossing film of 2017 in South Korea, and currently stands as the twelfth highest-grossing South Korean film in history.
The Gwangju Uprising was a popular uprising in the city of Gwangju, South Korea, from May 18 to May 27, 1980 in which it is estimated that around 600 people were killed.