In 1950 South Korea, Jin-tae Lee and his eighteen years old student brother Jin-seok Lee form a poor but happy family with their mother, Jin-tae’s fiancé Young-shin Kim and her young sisters and brother. Jin-tae and his mother are tough workers, who sacrifice themselves to send Jin-seok to school.
When North Korea invades the South, the family escapes to a relative’s house in the country, but along their journey, Jin-seok is forced to join the army to fight in the front, and Jin-tae tries to stop them from taking Jin-seok but gets forced to join also where Jin-tae does whatever he can to send his younger brother home. The commander promises Jin-tae that if he gets a medal he would release his brother, and Jin-tae becomes the braver soldier in the company. Throughout all the battles, Jin-tae gets promoted and popular along the leaders and less with his brother.
Jin-seok visits home for the first time in a long time sense their retreat brought them through their home town, and when he gets there, people come to take Young-shin away to get executed for going to communist rallies just for food so Jin-seok tries to stop them but gets taking in also. Jin-tae hears of this and tries to save them but in the end Young-shin and Jin-seok gets killed. Jin-tae, having hated the South Korean government for this, joins the communists. In the final battle of, we find out that Jin-seok survived and tries to get his older brother to come back and he does but too late.
As Jin-tae lies almost dead, he promises Jin-seok that he will surrender and find him later after the war but as Jin-seok retreats; Jin-tae kills many communists and ends up dying himself. Jin-seok does not know that he has died and waits for him to come back. After 50 years of waiting, he gets a call from the army to come down do an old war battleground where they find the bones of the person he has waited so long for: Jin-tae.