It’s all part of a plan to improve the Mirando Corporation’s image. Pictures of the piglets enjoying life on quiet country farms will draw attention away from the laboratories and factory farms where they were created.
The lucky babies are to remain with their farm families for 10 years, growing to the size of elephants. Then Mirando will return the best one to America for study (and eventual slaughter).
We first meet Okja the superpig and her 14-year-old caretaker Mija foraging for persimmons on South Korea’s mountain slopes. It isn’t long before she’s called upon to save Mija from tumbling down a cliff.
The bond between the orphaned girl and her gentle giant is undeniable. So when Mirando’s people show up to pronounce Okja their Number One Superpig and take her to their Seoul headquarters and then New York, Mija’s determined to stop them.
She leaves her grandfather and the only place she’s ever known, only to land in the center of a battle between the greedy, heartless corporation and their nemesis, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
When ALF show up midway through this action-packed film, their leader Jay declares:
“We are animal lovers. We rescue animals from slaughterhouses, zoos, labs. We tear down cages and set them free.”
ALF’s aim is to expose the lies of factory-farming and Mirando is in their crosshairs. Things finally come to a head with a very dark confrontation at the corporate slaughterhouse.
Bong Joon-Ho, Okja’s Oscar-winning screenwriter and director, went vegan for two months after visiting a Colorado slaughterhouse while researching this film. In a 2017 VICE interview, he recalled its impact on him:
“It’s incredibly shocking. In actuality, I couldn’t even get one-tenth of the detail of the real slaughterhouse into the film… It was just an instinctual, physical reaction to the smell and just the experience I had there.”
Even though it’s only on film and at less than one-tenth the detail, It was sobering to see cinematography’s riveting take on a slaughterhouse. If you watch Okja for no other reason, that sequence is reason enough!