THE KING OF PIGS
Directed by Yeun Sang-ho
NETPAC Award, 2011 Busan International Film Festival
Official Selection, Director’s Fortnight, 2012 Cannes Film Festival
Don’t take the kids to see THE KING OF PIGS. It opens with the grisly, seemingly senseless murder of a woman by her husband, Kyung-min, followed by a desperate phone call that opens a portal to an equally bloody past. 15 years prior, Kyung-min and Jong-suk were more than classmates; they were on the same side of a violent middle school free-for-all. More specifically, they were on the losing side: the pigs, as they were known, working-class sons forced to bear the punches and sexual abuse of the rich kids.
Don’t take the kids to see THE KINGS OF PIGS. They may get the wrong idea when they are introduced to Chul, the new kid on the block who decides that even though he’s not wealthy, even though the violent middle school class hierarchies are condoned by faculty and in fact are institutionalized in society more generally, and even though it risks his family and friends, his clenched fists are not going to let his oppressors get their way.
Don’t take the kids to see THE KING OF PIGS. They may get the wrong idea from the animation: a brilliant combination of a cold dehumanization, through which violence becomes desensitized through digital abstraction, and the brutal shock of seeing a “children’s” medium hijacked by molesters, suicide kings, and anxious killers. At the same time, it’s precisely the children’s medium that drives the point home: that the everyday trauma of bullying, one of the most hushed and willfully disregarded tumors of Korean masculinist society, must be viewed through the vernacular of the young to become clear.
Don’t take the kids to see THE KING OF PIGS. They know the story all too well already. This is for the adults with kids of their own, and for the adults haunted by their own memories of the playground. –Brian Hu
Cast: Yang Ik-June, Kim Kkobbi, Oh Jung-Se, Kim Hye-Na