At first the conflict appears to be between two men, Tokchae and Songsam, because they both belong to opposite political parties. Tokchae is a prisoner of war and needs to be transported by police to another location. Songsam volunteers for the job, because he recognized Tokchae as his childhood friend.
While walking, Songsam angrily asks Tokchae how many men he has killed while working for the Communist League. Tokchae remains stoically silent. At this point the conflict is between two old friends who took different sides of a political issue. Tokchae eventually says that the reason he stayed behind and worked his farm was so that he could continue to provide for his family. Songsam on the other hand ran away from his family in order to go into hiding.
Now the conflict is much more internalized for Songsam, because he realizes that Tokchae's decision to stay was an honorable decision and even a brave decision. He must reconcile that new information against his original feelings of anger toward Tokchae. Songsam reconciles his feelings and decides to release Tokchae and allow him the chance to run away to freedom.