Twenty-something Eun-mo (Woo Seo) listens to a taxi driver drone on as she rides down a foggy highway. The story then cycles back eight years earlier, when a lustful Joong-shik (Sun-kyun Lee) accidentally causes a woman to neglect her baby with disastrous consequences. Suffering from guilt, Joong-shik goes on the lam and holes up in the titular city of Paju, an underdeveloped and desolate city just north of Seoul and near the North Korean border. Teaching religious classes to the town's schoolgirls, Joong-shik captures the heart of local house owner Eun-soo, despite the protestations of her pubescent younger sister and Joong-shik's student Eun-mo. Back in the present day, Joong-shik is now the ringleader of a political protest group whose interests run from obstructing the city's plans of gentrification to strengthening relations with North Koreans. Squatting in Paju's derelict apartments, the group is under siege from an unidentified property developer who has engaged goons to bulldoze the buildings. With only the briefest of hints as to what has transpired, Eun-soo is nowhere to be seen and Joong-shik and Eun-mo are clearly at odds. While believing her brother-in-law killed her sister for insurance money, Eun-mo finds herself falling in love with him, the sole guardian and grownup in the lonely girl's life. Narrative flashes back twice more to sparingly fill in the gaps on their shifting lives.