Is Bong Joon Ho’s ‘Okja’ Our New Reality? China Begins Breeding Giant Pigs

Bong Joon Ho’s “Okja” tells the story of a young South Korean girl who is best friends with a genetically-engineered super pig. The girl sets out on a mission across continents to save the super pig from being killed. The third act reveals a slaughterhouse full of super pigs that are being bred to produce more meat than the villainous Mirando Corporation can sell. “Okja” was a science-fiction adventure when it was released in June 2017, but two years later it would chillingly reflect the real world.

A new report from Bloomberg News says that farmers in the southern region of China are now breeding giant pigs the size of polar bears. One giant pig recently weighed in at 1,102 pounds. Per Bloomberg’s report: “At slaughter, some of the pigs can sell for more than 10,000 yuan ($1,399), over three times higher than the average monthly disposable income in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi province where Pang Cong, the farm’s owner, lives.”

Zhao Hailin, a hog farmer in the region, tells Bloomberg that farmers are being encouraged to raise pigs “as big as possible” because a larger weight could boost the profit of the pig by more than 30%. The demand for larger pigs is a result of “African swine fever decimating the nation’s hog herd in half, by some estimates.” The swine fever has led the Chinese government to urge farmers “to boost production to temper inflation,” hence the breeding of super pigs that recall Bong Joon Ho’s ‘Okja.’”

As reported by Bloomberg, “Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua warned that the supply situation will be ‘extremely severe’ through to the first half of 2020. China will face a pork shortage of 10 million tons this year, more than what’s available in global trade, meaning it needs to increase production domestically.”

Like the majority of Bong’s work, “Okja” was inspired by his thoughts on the relationship between everyday people and capitalism. “All our problems arise because of capitalism,” the filmmaker told The Guardian in June 2017. “It brings pleasure but also so much pain and unhappiness. The questions I ask in my films about why we harm the environment or animals all come down in the end to capitalism.”

Little did Bong know at the same that his Okja character would predict a future in China. IndieWire has reached out to Bong’s representatives for comment. Bong is returning to theaters this month with his first release since “Okja,” the Palme d’Or winning family thriller “Parasite.” Neon is releasing “Parasite” in select theaters beginning October 11.

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