Follow TV Tropes


Film / Okja

Go To
Okja is a 2017 South Korean-American action-adventure film directed by Bong Joon-ho and co-written by Bong and Jon Ronson. The film stars an Ensemble Cast headed by South Korean child actress Ahn Seo-hyun alongside Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Lily Collins, Steven Yeun, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jake Gyllenhaal.

The story revolves around a young girl named Mija who for the last 10 years has lived with a so-called superpig whose name is Okja. Okja is a GMO (genetically modified organism) created by the Mirando corporation to meet the demands of today's meat-eating society. 26 such superpigs were created and distributed to local farmers all over the world, one such farmer being Mija's grandfather in the mountain regions of South Korea, as part of a marketing campaign to find out where the animal thrives best. Now Okja is supposed to be brought to New York for the best superpig contest and subsequent slaughter. Mija travels after her, determined to bring her back. She is assisted by an animal rights group, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), led by the soft-spoken Jay.


Okja provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: The ALF members are all named after their respective hair colour. We have Red, Silver, Blond and then we have their leader, Jay. Also true for K.
  • Affably Evil: Lucy. She appears to be genuinely nice and always tries her best to not hurt Mija's feelings despite being the CEO of an abusive company.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: The superpigs generally with traits like turning around before lying down, but especially Okja, who is leash trained.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: ALF is actually a real organization.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: The superpigs aren't just bigger than normal pigs - they're also even smarter. Okja is perfectly capable of reasoning out abstract concepts and puzzles, including one where she saves Mija's life with a seeming Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Animals Lack Attributes: Completely averted with Okja - she has visible genitalia and an anus under the tail, though the single large visible teat and it's placement makes her look bizarrely like a boar, not a sow.
  • Advertisement:
  • Arc Words: "Translations are sacred."
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Jay is a decidedly gentle person who cares for all living creatures and avoids causing them harm; he is even careful to respect Silver's decisions by not saying he should break his fast but by expressing personal concern for his well-being. So it's particularly shocking when he beats the crap out of K.
  • Body Horror: Okja is a healthy, well formed superpig with only a few anatomical oddities. The suffering, mutated horrors in the lab are...less so. So is the monstrosity that Okja is forced to mate with.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mija successfully saves Okja and brings her, plus a baby piglet, back to the mountains. However, the rest of the super pigs, including the piglet's parents, are still scheduled to get slaughtered, as the Mirando corporation, despite being exposed, will still be running, as implied by Nancy.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Okja and her kind are referred to as "superpigs", but they more closely resemble giant mutant hippos, with traces of other animals like elephants (especially the ears) and dogs (with their rounded bulldog snouts).
  • Chekhov's Gun: The golden pig that Hee-bong buys for Mija is used by Mija to buy Okja off of the Mirando Corporation.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Appears to run in the Mirando family, but despite Lucy's obsession with being a Villain with Good Publicity and her sister Nancy's focus on the money, both pale in contrast to their late father, whom they both despised.
  • Cruella to Animals: The main problem with The Mirando Corporation, besides lying about GMOs, is how they mistreat animals, keeping them in camps where they can barely move, mistreating them, hurting them, and eventually killing them so they can be eaten. Johnny Wilcox, especially, is this which is shown when Okja is sent to the lab. He forces her to mate, takes meat out of her live body, and tortures her. He even discusses this by saying "I am supposed to be an animal lover".
    • This is especially disturbing, since the superpigs are implied to be semi-sentient, capable of abstract reasoning. And they're capable of crying.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The ALF members wear black clothing and masks, but they have only good intentions and even in battle they avoid hurting people.
  • Determinator: Mija will stop at absolutely nothing to get Okja back
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Completely inverted, bad women hate their papas, because he was even worse than them.
  • Evil Twin: Nancy to Lucy. It's not that Lucy isn't evil in her way, but at least she has standards and feelings, and she appears to care about something besides money.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Mirando sounds suspiciously similar to Monsanto, a highly controversial agrochemical and agricultural corporation which also produces GMOs.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Mija refuses to participate in the ALF's mission. K (who is acting as a translator) tells Jay in English that she agrees.
  • High-Dive Escape: The ALF jump off a bridge into the water below to escape during Okja's recapture.
  • Huggy, Huggy Hippos: The titular superpig resembles a hippopotamus in appearance, and is very sweet and playful.
  • Language Barrier: Mija doesn't speak English, so she doesn't understand what the ALF members say to her, besides K (who speaks both English and Korean). He ends up using this to make the other ALF members believe she agreed to the plan.
  • Light Is Not Good : Lucy and her employees are almost always seen wearing white or other light colors.
  • Little Miss Badass: Even though Mija is only 14 years old, she is able outrun a truck, join a terrorist association, destroy a store, and finally save Okja and a superpiglet
  • Mix-and-Match Critter: The superpigs. They bear a more than passing resemblance to hippopotami, from their muzzle shape to their short triangular tails, as well as how attracted Okja is to water. She's far less aggressive and far more well mannered than a hippo, though.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The ALF have this reaction when they send Okja off to the lab to spy on its inner workings, only to record her being forced to mate with a gigantic and horribly mutated male superpig.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The ALF, even though well-intentioned, send Okja off to the laboratory where she (unknowingly to the group) is then forced to mate and otherwise mistreated. Her rescue during the best superpig contest also fails, leading her to be brought to the slaughterhouse.
  • Outside Ride: As Mija is chasing after the truck holding Okja.
  • Photo Op with the Dog: Mr. Mundo and Dr. Johnny Wilcox do this and in Wilcox case it is mainly to boost his image as an Animal Lover.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Nancy and Lucy. The former is a heartless moneymaker who takes after their father; Lucy despises their father, is friendlier, and aims to project a softer image to the public.
  • Rape Discretion Shot:Okja being forced to mate with a giant bloated abomination of a superpig shows only a blurry Jitter Cam shot of it starting to mount her before cutting to the horrified faces of the ALF members watching the camera feed.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: When Okja is taken to the lab, she is forced to mate with a giant male of her species. The members of the ALF can't handle hearing her cries, this leads to K's confession and subsequent elimination from the organization.
  • Secondary Character Title: Okja is the Kid Hero's Loyal Animal Companion.
  • Someone To Remember Us By: Two superpig parents, knowing they're about to be slaughtered, manage to push their piglet through a hole in the fence to Mija and Okja, who manages to save the piglet by hiding it from the guards in her mouth.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Mirando corporation thanks to Lucy's tireless marketing campaign hailing the superpigs as environmentally friendly and non-GMO. Not so much by the end, when the ALF has exposed the cruel conditions under which Okja and her kind are created. Though we never see the fallout of their reveal and Nancy states that so long as their products are cheap, they'll sell.
  • We Will Meet Again: Jay tells Mija as they leave Okja for recapture, "See you in New York".

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: