Okja was directed by Bong Joon Ho and displays similar themes to his later film Parasite. However, Okja is more appropriate for elementary age students. The contrast of wealthy people and the poor is evident throughout the movie.
The movie is about a young farmgirl Mija and her super pig Okja. When Mija was four, her grandfather received one of 26 super pigs to raise for the historically corrupt Miranda Corporation. For the next ten years, Okja and Mija develop an impenetrable bond as they spend their days in the mountainous countryside of South Korea. The beginning of the movie would be useful to show students as a demonstration of the diverse geography of South Korea. In many depictions of South Korea, we see bustling urban centers such as Seoul. It would be beneficial to use clips to show the lush landscape and mountains outside of Seoul.
When Mirando Corporation returns to collect Okja as the winner of the super pig raising contest, Mija angrily runs away from home to follow the super pig. In a dramatic scene, Mija throws a golden pig back at her grandfather in a major sign of anger and disrespect. It can be pointed out that the strong familial values in Korean culture are being turned upside down by the main character. In Korean culture, family is highly valued and respect toward elders is essential. Mija follows Okja and becomes part of a larger scheme as animal rights activists steal Okja back.
By the end of the movie, Mija is reunited with Okja and is able to sneak out a baby super pig that had been destined for slaughter. A theme of the movie is the stark contrast between corporations and small family farmers. My students are not exposed to much rural life, and it would be informative.
The main animal is a pig, which is a symbol of good luck, fertility, and wealth in Korean culture. Her grandfather gives Mija a generous gift of a golden pig when Okja is taken away. This is later used to buy Okja’s freedom from the Mirando corporation. I would like to use clips from this to illustrate some of the surface level aspects of Korean life for first graders and second graders. The use of clips would be appropriate for the age level.