SEOUL – The organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) chose South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho on Tuesday as Person of the Year for his film “Okja,” which tells the story of friendship between a girl and a giant pig.
Bong has been recognized “for coming to the defense of animals used for food” in his film, the South Korean branch of PETA said in a statement.
The Netflix original film, which premiered at Cannes in May, is an anti-capitalist fable about a giant pig (Okja), raised in the Korean mountains by a girl (Seo-Hyun) and her grandfather.
PETA believes that through the relationship of the girl and her pig the “film shows viewers that, like humans, animals are individuals who have families and form friendships when given the chance, are capable of a wide range of emotions, and value their own lives.”
The organization also applauded the way in which the film accurately recreates through a few disturbing sequences set in a slaughterhouse “the bloody everyday reality for pigs, cows, chickens, and other animals in Asia and around the world.”
Bong, director of other acclaimed works like “Mother” and “Memories of Murder,” confessed to not eating animal meat for two months after visiting a slaughterhouse to document it himself before the production of “Okja” began.
The filmmaker also admitted that his goal with the film was not to push viewers to veganism but to reflect on how animals become a product in the era of serial manufacturing.
PETA encouraged “anyone who is moved by Okja’s story and horrified by the suffering that real pigs endure in the meat industry to help animals simply by not eating them.”
The film’s premiere at Cannes was very controversial considering it was a Netflix production for television that only premiered in theaters across South Korea and the United States.