“Jung_E,” the Korean action drama, makes us think about our choices and the kind of world we are rooting for. Directed by Sang-ho Yeon, the film shows us the other side of technological advancement and how important it is to save humanity as it is one of those few things that make us different from machines. In Yeon’s world, we saw that the only thing that influenced the motives and actions of individuals and organizations was material gain. So, let’s analyze all the satire and symbolism that the film “Jung_E” presents and ascertain how valid the concerns are.
In the film “Jung_E,” we hear Kim Sang-hoon say that humans were once privileged enough to pay equal attention to the design of the product and its viability. He says that it was the age of abundance, and that is why such ostentatious inclinations were present in human society. It makes us feel strange, and the frightful realization seeps in that at the pace we are moving, we will surely end up making the earth inhabitable. The biggest problem with human beings, in general, is that we start taking things for granted the moment we know that something is not going away anytime soon. Caring about the generations to come is still considered preposterous. Being conscious about the environment and the impact one’s activities have on nature is an attribute that should be instilled in a child at an early age, and only then can we expect them to make greener and more sustainable choices. I don’t know about developed nations, but I am pretty sure that conservation of nature is definitely not on the bucket list of any individual in a developing or underdeveloped nation, and in fact, it is the least of their concerns. They can’t be blamed either because the struggle to procure a means of livelihood overtakes everything else.
The question that often comes to mind is whether the future would actually look like what Sang-ho Yeon has shown us in “Jung_E.” It is scary to even think that there would be more AIs than humans and that science would facilitate the replication of the brain and copying of cerebral data after the biological death of a human. What “Jung_E” does best is create a narrative that is “Black Mirror-ish” in its approach, and more than science and technology, it makes us privy to the conflicting emotions that a human feel who is trapped in that world.
When Dr. Yun Seo-hyun oversees the simulation test, she doesn’t know if she should feel happy that technology has facilitated her mother’s consciousness being copied into a clone or if she should feel bad that, no matter how real it might seem, the truth is that her mother would never come back to life. When Yun Seo-hyun goes to give her ethics test, we learn that her cancer has metastasized and has spread to vital organs in her body. The doctor told her that she had approximately three months to live and that she should start the process of copying her brain. That’s when we came to know that even in a post-apocalyptic world, where the survival of humans was at stake, there were still class politics and discrimination prevalent in society.
The film “Jung_E” lets us know that humans might change the world, but they can never change their intrinsic nature. I personally associate human nature with greed and selfishness, and we got proof of it when the doctor told Yun Seo-hyun about the three packages she could choose from. The Type A package was meant for the elite, and it guaranteed that the prosthetic body into which the brain of a dying individual would be transferred would have all the human rights and freedoms. The cost of the package was so high that even people like Yun Seo-hyun, who were working for a company like Kronoid, couldn’t afford it. In Type B, there were some restrictions, and the prosthetic wasn’t awarded as many privileges. Type B was for the upper middle class of society, where rights like adoption weren’t given, but the government still required permission to access the brain’s data. Type C was basically meant for the downtrodden and people who belonged to the lower middle class and below. There was no right that was given to people who chose Type C, and Yun Seo-hyun feared that, just like her mother, that would be her only option.
The regime treated the people choosing Type C with utter disregard, and with their tyrannical ways and means, oppressed them in every possible manner. The film “Jung_E” makes us realize that there will come a time, sooner rather than later, when there will be a market for everything. Humans will become commodities, and their economic status will determine whether they are treated merely as assets or given the respect due to a living being. Complete authority over the brain of an individual means that the government can use it in any way it deems fit. We saw how Kronoid had created action figures of Yun Jung-Yi, and though they pretended that they were paying homage to the legacy of a great warrior, in reality, all they wanted was to make a profit out of it. One of the most harrowing and disheartening scenes is when we come to know that the headquarters had decided to explore the viability of the sexual application of Yun Jung-yi’s consciousness instead of using it for creating combat clones. When Yun Seo-hyun saw her mother’s clone being objectified and her legacy being insulted, she felt shattered. The scene symbolizes how men can always find ways to objectify women, and no matter how advanced the technology becomes, it can never change the patriarchal male gaze.
Lately, there has been a lot of hue and cry about data privacy as we have seen how governments and organizations have used it for their own advantage. It might seem like a very first-world problem, but it can have an unimaginably adverse impact on any individual and govern their lives in ways they cannot fathom. We recently saw how Donald Trump’s government used the data from the Facebook profiles of people in order to influence their choices and turn the tide in their favor. We are rapidly moving towards a reality where the word “privacy” is losing its meaning, and we don’t even realize how the rich and powerful hold the strings and control the lives of people. For me personally, the best depiction of how lethal a data breach could get was shown in the Netflix series “House of Cards,” where the Conways used a search engine named Pollyhop to influence people’s choices just like the Trump regime did. The consequences of a data breach are hazardous, and they directly impact the lives of each and every individual.
Toward the end of the film, “Jung_E,” we see that Yun Jung-Yi has survived. We hope that she will come back, not only to take revenge on the establishment but to save the dwindling humanity in the world.