‘The Point Men’ Ending, Explained: Did Jae-Ho Get The Hostages Released?


Directed by Yim Soon-rye, The Point Men tells the story of the biggest hostage crisis that South Korea has ever faced in its history. The film makes us privy to two men who were ready to put their lives at stake to rescue those innocent people, but apart from dealing with the threat, they had to additionally deal with the system and literally fight their way through. So, let’s find out how the Korean government negotiated terms with the Taliban and was able to get the hostages released.

Spoilers Alert

‘The Point Men’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About? 

There are certain events that shape the politics of a country, and 9/11 was one of them. Probably for the first time, a superpower was going through such a tragedy, and that meant that the catastrophe was going to impact several nations apart from the United States of America. The USA declared war on Afghanistan as they had given refuge to the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden, and multiple countries joined the war and sent their troops to support the US, with South Korea being one of them. A pro-US government took charge of Afghanistan, and that was when the Taliban started retaliating with full force. They kidnapped, tortured, and at times killed people from other nations, and their one permanent demand was to release all the Taliban militants who were being held in prison.

The Afghan government knew that even if they released the prisoners, the Taliban wouldn’t stay quiet, and once they got what they were asking for, they would raise another demand. A group of 23 Korean missionaries were kidnapped by the Taliban forces in 2007, and they demanded an immediate release of 23 Taliban soldiers who had been held in prison in Afghanistan itself. An agent from the National Intelligence Service named Park Dae-Sik was immediately sent to Afghanistan and told to look into the matter. Meanwhile, Jung Jae-ho, a diplomat, was also sent there to look into the matter and also suggest ways through which it could be tackled.

Why Did The Jirga Leader Refuse To Release The Koreans?

When the Koreans found out that the Taliban leader was not ready to negotiate with them at any cost, they decided to contact one of the most prominent leaders of the Jirga and convince him to use his influence to get the Koreans released. Dae-sik found a Korean man named Lee Bong-han, who knew the local language, and he told him to work for them as a translator. Lee Bong-han, aka Qasim, was a fascinating man and came on board as he was being offered a substantial amount for his services. The Jirga leaders were vested with a lot of power, and even the Taliban forces adhered to their orders. They were held in very high regard by the Pashtun community, and Dae-sik wanted to use this reputation as leverage. It was a long shot, but Dae-sik knew that if he played his cards well and managed to appeal to the conscience of the leader, he would be able to accomplish his mission.

The leader called Dae-sik and Jae-ho to spend an evening with them until he thought about what could be done about the issue. The Pashtun leader, in the end, decided that he would make arrangements to get the Koreans released. Jae-ho was elated, as he had never expected that Dae-sik would be able to achieve that feat. They both had a lot of differences and in the beginning of The Point Men, we saw how they engaged in heated arguments and could never come to an agreement regarding anything. They had very different styles of working, and where Dae-sik believed that diplomats had no idea about ground reality, Jae-ho saw Dae-sik as an arrogant man who had very high assumptions about himself. But now those differences were disappearing, and they had started to respect each other.

Around the same time, the Korean media started covering the issue, and the Jirga leader got to listen to one such broadcast that was being conducted by one of the leading media houses. The Pashtun leader came to know that, contrary to what he had been told, these 23 Koreans were missionaries. The leader got annoyed, and he changed his mind. He told Jae-ho that he would have to bear the consequences of trying to manipulate him. Jae-ho and Dae-sik pleaded as much as they could, but the leader had already made up his mind. Soon after the negotiations failed, the dead body of one of the hostages was found in Musheky, which made Jae-ho realize that they didn’t have much time to come up with another plan of action.

‘The Point Men’ Ending Explained How Did Jae-Ho Save The Hostages?

After the first plan failed, Dae-sik came in contact with a man named Abdullah Amir, who said that he could broker a deal between them and the Taliban and help their cause if they paid him $2 million. Abdullah seemed like a well-connected man, and he said that he could get the 23 Taliban prisoners released by hook or by crook. Dae-sik and Jae-ho convinced their bosses, and with not a lot of options left, they agreed to work with Abdullah. Just when they thought that the nightmare would finally be over, they got intel that Adbullah was a fraud and that he just wanted to take the money and flee away. Jae-ho was smart enough to tell one of his officers to conduct a background check on the man, and that’s how Abdullah’s lies got caught. Once again, the plan was a failure, but Dae-sik managed to not let the fraudsters take that sum of $2 million.

The Korean government lost its patience, and they decided to retaliate by launching an attack on the Taliban forces. Jae-ho knew that it was a terrible idea, as, for years, even the Americans hadn’t been able to penetrate that territory. Jae-ho told the foreign minister and all his superiors that they were putting the hostages at risk, but nobody heard him, and additionally, he was asked to go back home as his services were no longer needed.

Jae-ho felt responsible for those Koreans, and his conscience was just not allowing him to leave the battlefield. He tried convincing his superiors but to no avail. He was packing his bags and leaving for his flight when suddenly he called the chief presidential secretary and asked him to allow him to negotiate with the Taliban leaders face-to-face. Jae-ho knew what he was signing into was a suicide mission, but he was willing to give his life if it came to that. His request was turned down at first because the nation’s policy was that they did not negotiate with terrorists, but then the president himself gave Jae-ho a call. The president asked him what the odds were that the mission would be successful, and Jae-ho truthfully said that the possibility was quite bleak, but still, it was worth the shot. The president agreed to it, and together with Qasim and Dae-sik, Jae-ho got ready to face his biggest nightmare, i.e., the Taliban soldiers.

The Taliban soldiers did not allow Dae-sik to be a part of the negotiations, and Jae-ho and Qasim were left with no option but to go alone. Jae-ho wanted to make it very clear that, firstly, he was not afraid and, secondly, he was not going to be subdued during the negotiations. He dared to tell the leader to prove that he was in charge of things by releasing three captives. The leader released two Korean citizens but then made an alteration in his demand and said that now he wanted all the Taliban prisoners to be released. Obviously, Jae-ho knew that it wasn’t going to be possible, and in that extremely nerve-racking moment, he came up with a plan.

Jae-ho knew that the Koreans would start bombing the area after they learned that the Taliban were making such unreasonable demands. As soon as the bombings started, Jae-ho told the leader that the allies just wanted an excuse to go all out and that the leader had given them that chance by not releasing the hostages. Jae-ho said that if he thought that it was a rescue mission, then he was wrong because the allies were going to kill everybody present at the hidden site. Jae-ho’s words had an impact on the Taliban leader, and he actually bought his story that the Korean government was ready to sacrifice their citizens just so that they were able to completely destroy the Taliban forces.

In the end, Jae-ho’s courage paid off, and the Taliban decided to release all the Korean prisoners in return for $20 million. At the end of The Point Men, the Taliban said that they would hold one person back just to make sure that the Allies were not tricking them once again. Dae-sik volunteered to stay back, but luckily, he was released later. Jae-ho went back to South Korea with the missionaries, and Dae-sik decided to stay back and work his way around. Dae-Sik didn’t have anybody in his life, and he always said that he didn’t have a home to go back to like the others.

Jae-ho and Dae-sik had not only learned to respect one another, but they also became friends and grew quite close to each other. When Dae-sik called after the entire fiasco was over, to tell Jae-ho that he was safe, Jae-ho told him that from now on, he should never feel that he didn’t have a home. Maybe Jae-ho and Dae-sik would once again cross each other’s path during some other mission in future but until then they could at least sleep peaceful knowing the fact that their efforts had paid off and there were people who were alive only because of them. 

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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