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South Korea, 2011, 97 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Animated, Asian, Coming of Age, Drama, Korean
Program: The Watching HourLanguage: Korean English Subtitles
DIRECTOR: Yeun Sang-ho
Producer: Cho Young-kagEditor: Yeun Sang-ho, Lee Yeun-jeongScreenwriter: Yeun Sang-hoPrincipal Cast: Yang Ik-june, Oh Jeong-se, Kim Hye-na, Kim Kkobbi, Park Hee-vonUS Distributor: INDIESTORY Inc.
This powerful animated film portrays the savage oppression of teenage boys in South Korea. Out of the blue, failed businessman Kyung-min contacts Jong-Suk, an old classmate, with the purpose of reliving their barbarous middle-school years. The two were among the “pigs,” or lower-class students, living miserably under a reign of terror by the upper-class “dogs.” They haven’t spoken in 15 years, since the death of the one “pig” who stood up to the harsh treatment—their friend Chul, for whom the film is named. As the two men explore their tortured relationship, the film recalls the bullying and brutality in flashback.
The King of Pigs finds its greatest terror in the harsh reality of being trapped by corrupt peers. This is reported horror, devastatingly believable despite the film’s animated format. The ending defies expectations of how these two grew up and became allies, and what their guilt and hatred led them to do. The feudal nature of class warfare in the closed world of middle school speaks of the intractable nature of bullying, informed by Korean society’s norms.
The film can be brutal, with animation that is stark and vivid, occasionally relieved by fleeting moments of real beauty and painterly landscapes. Appropriate only for adult audiences, The King of Pigs makes free use of the violent conventions of Asian action films.
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