JUNG-E (2023)


JUNG-E : Terror in the Endless Apocalypse: Mirror of Man, Motherhood, and Justice.



In the midst of a seemingly endless apocalypse, JUNG-E, a formidable force to be reckoned with, stands as a mirror to humanity's dark side. The intensity of this intimidation is only compounded by the weight of motherhood and justice that JUNG-E carries. As a symbol of a mother's strength, JUNG-E represents the fierce protection and unwavering devotion a mother has for her child, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. However, at the same time, JUNG-E embodies the need for justice and the relentless pursuit of what is right. In this endless apocalypse, JUNG-E's presence is a reminder of the potential for good and evil within all of us.

JUNG-E: A South Korean Sci-Fi Film Blending Human and Robotic Models.

Commercial filmmakers often indulge in grammar scare, a favorite pastime that has become ingrained in Western popular culture. This includes films about vampires, professional killers, sorcery, and the end of the world and its aftermath.

Film investment capitalizes on human fears and the curiosity to know what might happen if a global nuclear war or a natural catastrophe leads to the end of the world, or at least envisions such scenarios. Recently, climate change has also become a candidate cause of planetary doom.

Western cinema predominantly presents pessimistic visions of a post-apocalyptic world: piles of debris, small groups of survivors who resemble predatory herds, and endless struggles for food and shelter.

This approach has now transcended from the top producers of American Hollywood cinema to South Korean cinema, which has not simply copied science fiction and Hollywood horror, but has created its own unique style.

The South Korean film JUNG-E, directed by Yoon Sang-ho, merges the human and robotic models into a single entity. This being lived as a human and then transitioned to a new stage, where its mental traits were cloned and implanted into a robot, resulting in functions that surpass those of both humans and robots.

The film revolves around researcher Seo-hoon (played by Kang Soon-yeon) in an artificial intelligence laboratory dedicated to the development of weapons and combat capabilities. In an attempt to end the war between human colonies in the atmosphere, Seo-hoon clones the brain of her heroic fighter mother.

Set in a futuristic timeframe, the film imagines the 22nd century, where Earth has been devastated by climate change, and humans have found an alternative by establishing settlements in space.

Social Injustice and Artificial Intelligence: A Korean Film's Exploration of Tough Choices and Human-Robot Blurring:

In a Korean masterpiece, social injustice and economic discrimination are ubiquitous themes, depicted in the film through the excruciating decision made by the family of a renowned fighter regarding their daughter after her death.

Under the New World regime, a person can pay to reproduce themselves with a metal body, maintain their human identity, and even be reproduced in multiple copies for exclusive use while retaining their human status. Alternatively, they can be reproduced and used according to the company's discretion, but in doing so, they forfeit their human nature.

Despite the fact that the mother, JUNG-E, had sacrificed her life to safeguard her community, her family was forced to choose the latter option due to poverty, which was later repeated with their daughter after she was diagnosed with cancer. The official presented them with the third option, as they lacked the means to afford the first two.

Within an hour of the film's opening, viewers are expected to become engrossed in the story as they realize that a child requires a delicate surgery, which the mother cannot attend to owing to her call of duty. She is battling the rogue colonies in a coalition war, and unfortunately sustains severe injuries that leave her in a coma.

To care for her daughter, who has grown up and become a researcher in an Artificial Intelligence Lab, the mother's mental and psychological abilities are duplicated and sold, ultimately resulting in the development of a killing machine capable of ending the war. The daughter uses her mother's mind and abilities to improve the machine, which she leads in simulated battles every day, shedding tears and displaying intense emotions throughout the process.

It becomes difficult to differentiate between humans and robots in JUNG-E's world, as the makers reveal in the middle of the film that the director of the Kronweed lab is himself a copy created by the owner, and even he is unaware of his non-human status until the end of the story.

When the war ends, the director of the lab is taken aback, believing his role to be over. Similarly, the daughter researcher, who has grown accustomed to seeing her mother every day, even if only in the form of a machine for war experiments, is equally stunned.

JUNG-E : Exploring the Limits of Cinematic Fiction and Intersection of Technology and Storytelling:

Cinematic fiction transcends the boundaries of the planet through scientific and technological advancements, crafting narratives of a new world shaped by minerals and technology. Communication technology and digitization have transformed both reality and art.

In the Korean film "JUNG-E", the director took just under an hour to introduce the characters and establish the reality of the situation before delving into the plot itself. While the theme of the end of the world has been explored in countless films before, an overly long exposition may bore the viewer.

Some filmmakers apply the same rules of storytelling to machines as they do to humans, resulting in comical scenes of robots clashing, where metal faces are punched or strangled, despite the fact that such actions should not have any effect on robots. This oversight by the filmmakers is evident in the movie.

The director's use of artificial intelligence is apparent in the film's visually stunning battle scenes and train jumping sequences, which are relatively innovative. However, the film's predominantly dark atmosphere reflects the complete absence of the sun from the story.

Capitalist Exploitation:

The laboratory's goals are changed by officials to develop artificial intelligence for domestic purposes. Meanwhile, the researcher visits her dying mother for the last time and is shocked to find a copy of her mother in revealing clothing, reprogrammed for entertainment instead of combat. The researcher decides to delete the other copies and save one, giving her a chance to escape.

The film's battles are difficult to accept as they contradict the sad yet loving relationship between the mother and daughter, who are trying to relive childhood memories. The mother promised they would meet again after her surgery. The battles, which resemble combat video game fights, are punctuated by beauty and passion. Robotic monsters, which supposedly evolved beyond walking on two or four legs, still walk on them and practice boxing and shooting machine guns. This mix is inconsistent with the classical and modernist ideals of the creators.

The creators of the film seem to have prioritized spectacle over coherence, catering to the expectations of a mass audience rather than exploring deeper themes. This is a common tactic used in capitalist exploitation, where profit and marketability take precedence over artistic integrity and meaningful storytelling.

Furthermore, the researcher's decision to erase the copies of her mother raises questions about the ethics of artificial intelligence and the potential for exploitation. The fact that her mother's likeness was used without her consent for entertainment purposes is a disturbing reflection of the way in which individuals can be commodified and exploited under capitalism.

The film serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of unchecked capitalism, where profit-driven decisions can have damaging consequences for individuals and society as a whole. It highlights the need for a more nuanced and ethical approach to technology and entertainment, one that prioritizes human dignity and respect over profit and spectacle.


In conclusion, the film's portrayal of battles and the exploitation of artificial intelligence illustrate the dangers of unchecked capitalism. The prioritization of profit over artistic integrity and ethical considerations can have damaging consequences for individuals and society as a whole. It is important to recognize the potential for exploitation in the pursuit of technological advancements and entertainment, and to prioritize human dignity and respect. Only then can we move towards a more ethical and sustainable future that benefits everyone, rather than just a select few.