Global Film: Okja

Okja is a fictional film by South korean film director and writer Bong joon ho, set in the mountains of South Korea a farm girl Mija and her genetically modified pig ‘Okja’ face the evil corporation that wants to destroy Okja. The film’s clear storyline follows the innocence of the unconditional love shared between a young girl and her pet. Whilst on a larger scale looks at the animal farming industry questioning the ethics behind it through in a unique and heart tugging light.

Although this film would not easily translate to some cultures, as eating animal products is apart of their everyday being, meaning some would reject this films importance.Although Okja is set in South Korea, there are familiarites such as western actors playing roles in the film to broaden audiences of the global north familiarity with the film. As well there is a mutual and consistent theme throughout the film that is easily adapted and  can be found relatable by more than just one culture. These themes are coming of age through the character mija, animal rights activism and diversity. By just naming a few we are able to understand why the film has such wide impact and ressonates to many. Cultural Proximity also suggest that people are able to be more engaged through clear storytelling as displayed in joon ho’s film as a result expands the films overall appeal.

Animal rights and activism has made a fast uprise in the global north as many people have become aware of animal mistreatment through media outlets, making some rethink their eating habits. Although in many cultures eating animals is a way of life for some through convenience and also religion. Okja’s success in the global north can be due to these reasons.

Netflixs involvement in the release of the film allowed it to be easily accessible for people around the world to watch. Lotz (2017) “It’s now possible for a series to release new episodes for viewers around the world, and the result is a global watercooler – a shared media culture that transcends national boundaries.”

Bong joon ho’s carefully infuses elements of both western and asain culture throughout the film. Blending the two cultures relates to ideas of cultural hybridisation. As Straubhaar (2007) mentions “Audiences tend to reject cultural products like television programs that are too distant from their own cultural realities…. …conversely, audiences are attracted to cultural similarity or proximity”. With this thought, through the blending of two cultures allows audiences from each culture to adapt and engage in the film entirely, which could explain why Okja travelled so successfully around the world.

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