Parallels to Reality in Okja
Okja is a film that has childlike qualities as it is about an innocent girl and her friend, a genetically modified super pig named Okja. However, this film is simultaneously disturbing and hints at a broader message about the blood on the hands of corporate companies like the Mirando Corporation depicted in this film[A1] . This film starts out very picturesque with lots of visual appeal depicting Okja and Mija in South Korea living their everyday lives. By seeing them in their everyday routine, the audience is able to recognize the bond that the two characters have and the human like emotions that Okja exhibits, like the loyalty Okja shows when she saves Mija from the cliff. As the best super pig, the Mirando Corporation sends Okja to New York and Mija runs after Okja to save her. While trying to save Okja, Mija crosses paths with the Animal Liberation Front on numerous occasions. The Animal Liberation Front sends Okja to the Mirando Corporation with surveillance technology, and they retrieve disturbing footage of the Mirando Corporation. The company brings Mija to New York to see Okja to portray a wholesome image to the public. During the Mirando company’s parade, the Animal Liberation Front shows the surveillance footage to the public making the public turn on the corporation. Okja is captured and sent to a slaughterhouse where Mija finds her and shows a photo to the employee of her and Okja when they were young.
It is this kind of play on emotions and guilt that seems to create the biggest impact on influencing people to be more conscious. Mija offers the CEO of the Mirando Corporation a golden pig in exchange for Okja’s life. This offer is accepted and Mija and Okja go back to South Korea with a baby pig they rescued. Although Okja is a science fiction film, Bong Joon Ho, the director of this film, carefully includes many parallels to reality in this film[A2] .
Visually, many of the scenes in Okja depicting the Mirando corporation’s treatment of the super pigs mirrored[A3] the treatment of modern companies towards animals. For example, the crowd of super pigs separated from Mija and Okja by a fence in the scene where they are leaving the slaughterhouse to go back to South Korea depicts extremely realistic conditions of the cramped environment in which animals are kept in present day confinement. There is little room for animals to move, making it easier for the animals to be killed. The machine in the slaughter house that Okja is put in is based off of a real slaughterhouse machine which is called a pneumatic reverse box. The slaughtered super pigs in the film are hung from the ceiling the same way that dead cows are hung from the ceiling in modern day slaughterhouses. These conditions depicted in the movie were based off of real life conditions and present day treatment of animals[A4] .
The Animal Liberation Front played a large role in the film, and this is a real organization. As shown in the film, the Animal Liberation Movement is known for their violent crimes and carry out missions as seen in Okja. In the film, The Animal Liberation movement intercepted the delivery truck. This is similar to their real-life crimes which include cutting the brakes of delivery trucks to free animals. Animal thefts and animal releases are common feats of the Animal Liberation Front in the film and in real life. Just as the members of the Animal Liberation Front are considered terrorists in the film, in real life members of this movement are also considered terrorist[A5] .
The political greed depicted in this film is also matched by present day companies. The same way that the Mirando corporation uses scams like advertising that everything is natural and organic, modern companies also use pretty packaging and big words in this same way to make money[A6] . The Mirando company also exemplifies political greed by wanting to use Mija and Okja’s friendship as a way to appeal to the public which is representative of real companies using a picture of a boy and a cow on a milk carton. There is a strong political message about greediness of corporations in general, even the ALF where the members are more interested in furthering the mission than Okja’s well-being when they send Okja with the surveillance camera to the Mirando Corporation or when the Mirando company accepts a golden pig for Okja.
The emotions that Okja exhibits in the film are realistic to the emotions many animals have the capability of exhibiting in real life. In real life, for example, the bond many pet owners feel between their puppy and them is evident from the protective behaviors such as barking or guarding the owner of the animal in front of possible signs of danger. The strong emotional bond between Mija and Okja is not complete fiction as pigs are capable of complex emotions. Pigs, in particular, are highly sensitive and can feel sadness and happiness. Pigs, as depicted in this film, have been proven in real life to have a strong intellect and to be emotionally complex as pigs are sentient beings.
This science fiction/fantasy film is not as make believe as one would hope. Much of this film is based off of and influenced by real life conditions and events. While this may be disturbing, there is a subtle beauty to this film. By revealing hidden truths about the industry in a way that is labeled as science fiction, this film has the ability to make quite an impact on changing the perspectives of many people in the world. The most prominent aspect of this film is the love that Mija and Okja have for each other. Bong Joon Ho uses this as the silver lining throughout the film to play on people’s emotions. The love between Mija and Okja, humans and animals, which is the silver lining of this film, may be the ultimate tool to opening up the eyes of consumers.
“This Proves ‘Okja’ Is More Real Than You Thought.” PETA, 15 Aug. 2017, www.peta.org/blog/okja-move-stills-photos/.
“'Okja' Reminds Us of Friendship and Factory Farming.” The Japan Times,www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2017/07/19/films/film-reviews/okja-reminds-us-friendship-factory farming/#.XGJNec9KhmA.
Pike, John. “Military.” Texas Revolution, www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/alf.htm.