OKJA: A Thought-Provoking Exploration of Animal Rights, Environmental Concerns, and Capitalism

16 July 2023
The film "OKJA," directed by Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Snowpiercer), has emerged as a significant milestone in the Korean film industry. Released in 2017, this thought-provoking masterpiece delves into themes of animal rights, environmental concerns, and capitalism. With its compelling narrative and visual brilliance, "OKJA" captivates audiences and prompts reflection on our relationship with animals and the consequences of corporate greed.

"OKJA" revolves around the endearing bond between Mija, a young South Korean girl, and Okja, a genetically modified "super pig" raised by the multinational Mirando Corporation. The conflict unfolds when Okja is taken away by the corporation, intending to use her as a food source. Mija embarks on a courageous journey to rescue her beloved companion, encountering the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and facing numerous challenges along the way. The film climaxes with a poignant resolution that forces viewers to confront the moral dilemmas surrounding animal exploitation.

okja film review

Themes Explored in "OKJA":

Animal Rights and Ethics:

"OKJA" serves as a powerful critique of the exploitation and mistreatment of animals in the name of corporate profits. The Mirando Corporation's ruthless pursuit of profit is symbolized by the heartless treatment of Okja and other super pigs. Through Mija's unwavering love and empathy for Okja, the film highlights the capacity for animals to experience emotions and emphasizes their deserving of compassion and ethical treatment. Furthermore, "OKJA" challenges viewers to confront the moral implications of factory farming and genetic modification, urging us to reconsider our relationship with animals and the natural world.

Environmental Concerns:

Bong Joon-ho tackles the environmental impact of industrial agriculture in "OKJA." The film depicts the devastating consequences of corporate greed and the exploitation of natural resources. Through visually striking scenes, such as the polluted river near the factory farm, Bong Joon-ho highlights the toll of industrial farming on ecosystems and biodiversity. "OKJA" serves as a cautionary tale, emphasizing the need for sustainable practices and responsible stewardship of the environment.

Capitalism and Consumerism:

A scathing satire of corporate manipulation and marketing strategies, "OKJA" exposes the dark underbelly of capitalism and consumerism. The Mirando Corporation presents Okja as a product, utilizing deceptive advertising to generate demand. By portraying the public's role in perpetuating animal exploitation through consumption, the film challenges viewers to question their own complicity in supporting unethical industries. Through characters like Lucy Mirando, played brilliantly by Tilda Swinton, "OKJA" sheds light on the moral compromises made in the relentless pursuit of profit.

Female Empowerment and Resilience:

"OKJA" features a remarkable female protagonist in Mija, who displays incredible strength, determination, and resilience throughout her journey. Mija's love for Okja drives her to challenge societal norms, break gender stereotypes, and face numerous dangers head-on. The film presents a compelling narrative of female empowerment, subverting traditional gender roles and showcasing the power of love, compassion, and sacrifice. Mija's character development inspires viewers to question and challenge prevailing social expectations.

Cinematic Elements:

Direction and Visual Style:

Bong Joon-ho's direction in "OKJA" is both masterful and evocative. The film seamlessly blends different genres, juxtaposing heartwarming moments between Mija and Okja with intense action sequences. Bong Joon-ho's visual style, characterized by stunning cinematography and creative framing, adds depth and nuance to the storytelling. Notable examples include the breathtaking scenes in the South Korean mountains and the harrowing escape from the Mirando Corporation's clutches.


Ahn Seo-hyun delivers a remarkable performance as Mija, capturing the character's unwavering determination and emotional depth. The supporting cast, including Tilda Swinton as the conflicted Lucy Mirando and Paul Dano as the compassionate ALF member Jay, provide nuanced portrayals that enhance the film's narrative impact. The ensemble's collective performances add layers of authenticity and emotional resonance to the story.

Cinematography and Production Design:

The cinematography in "OKJA" is visually stunning, capturing both the beauty of nature and the grittiness of industrial settings. The contrasting aesthetics between the idyllic South Korean mountains and the cold, sterile environments of the factory farm effectively communicate the film's underlying themes. The production design, such as the Mirando Corporation's flashy promotional materials and the stark interiors of the laboratory, enhance the overall atmosphere and contribute to the film's social commentary.

Social and Cultural Relevance:

"OKJA" garnered critical acclaim both in South Korea and internationally, receiving accolades for its storytelling, performances, and social relevance. The film sparked conversations about animal rights, environmental conservation, and ethical consumerism, prompting viewers to reevaluate their choices and consider the broader implications of their actions.

In an era marked by increasing awareness of climate change, sustainable practices, and animal welfare, "OKJA" remains highly relevant. The film continues to resonate with audiences, challenging us to question the status quo and advocate for a more compassionate and environmentally conscious world. It serves as a catalyst for ongoing discussions and actions to address the pressing issues it raises.


"OKJA" is a cinematic triumph that shines a spotlight on pressing societal issues. Through its exploration of animal rights, environmental concerns, and capitalism, the film forces viewers to confront their own beliefs and actions. Bong Joon-ho's masterful direction, combined with compelling performances and visually striking cinematography, make "OKJA" an unforgettable viewing experience. This thought-provoking film is a powerful call to action, urging us to reflect on our relationship with animals, our environment, and the consequences of our consumer choices. "OKJA" is a must-see for anyone seeking to engage with important global issues and ignite positive change.


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My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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