A huge critical and commercial success in Korea, Bong's film fictionalises the search for the country's first recorded serial killer. (The actual crimes - rapes and murders - began in Gyeongi Province, outside Seoul, in 1986 and continued for some five years; the perpetrator was never caught.) The film centres on the efforts of the local cops and an officer from Seoul to sift evidence, identify patterns, follow up leads and interrogate suspects; there are several false leads before a woman cop notices a correlation between the attacks and requests for a particular song on the radio. Much of the plentiful gallows humour springs from the clashes between the poorly educated and trained local force and the more sophisticated urban detective, but nothing works out predictably. All of the characters, including the prime suspect, are victims of the Korea of the 1980s: living under dictatorial military government and inured by a Cold War mentality to acts of violence and brutality. Bong brilliantly spreads the blame by using multiple points of view for his mise-en-scène, and gets tremendous performances from his stars and supporting cast alike.