Okja is a 2017 action-adventure film about a girl who raises a genetically modified superpig. Directed by Bong Joon-ho and co-written by Bong and Jon Ronson, the film stars an ensemble cast headed by South Korean child actress Ahn Seo-hyun, South Korean actors Byun Hee-bong, Yoon Je-moon, and Choi Woo-shik, and Hollywood actors Tilda Swinton (in a dual role), Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Shirley Henderson, Daniel Henshall, Devon Bostick, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Official release poster
Directed byBong Joon-ho
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story byBong Joon-ho
Music byJeong Jae-il
CinematographyDarius Khondji
Edited byYang Jin-mo
Distributed by
Release date
  • May 19, 2017 (2017-05-19) (Cannes)
  • June 28, 2017 (2017-06-28) (United States)
  • June 29, 2017 (2017-06-29) (South Korea)
Running time
120 minutes[1]
  • South Korea
  • United States
  • English
  • Korean
Budget$50 million[2]
Box office$2 million[3]

The film competed for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.[4][5] It was released on Netflix on June 28, 2017.


In 2007, self-styled 'environmentalist' Lucy Mirando becomes CEO of the Mirando Corporation, succeeding her twin sister Nancy. She announces that they have been breeding a special kind of “super pig”. The twenty-six produced specimens are sent to farmers in different locations around the world, and ten years later, one of them will be crowned the winner of a competition to breed the best pig.

In 2017, a young girl named Mija lives in South Korea with her grandfather and their super pig, Okja. They are visited by Mirando spokesperson and zoologist Dr. Johnny Wilcox, who declares Okja the best super pig and announces they will take her to New York City. Mija's grandfather presents her with a gold pig and explains to her that he saved up money to buy the solid gold item to replace Okja when she was taken away. Devastated, Mija runs away to Seoul to find Okja, where she sees her as she is being loaded onto a truck. Mija chases down the truck but it is intercepted by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). In the resulting chaos, Mija and Okja run away but are eventually saved by the ALF, led by Jay. Jay uses another ALF member, K, as a translator to tell Mija that they plan to put a recording device in Okja's ear and let her be re-captured by the Mirando corporation to show how they mistreat their animals. Mija tells them to return her to the mountains but K tells the group that Mija agrees with their plan. They abandon her, and Okja is recaptured.

To minimise the PR damage to the company, Lucy pays for Mija to come to New York to be reunited with her pig. Okja is taken to a laboratory where she is forcibly bred with another super pig and flesh is taken from her for a taste test. After the ALF sees the footage, K reveals that he lied to the rest of the group about Mija's support of the plan. Jay beats K, and expels him from the ALF.

In New York City, Mija is forced to agree to the wishes of the Mirando corporation. Jay slips into her room and tells her that they plan to rescue Okja while on stage. A parade is put on by the Mirando Corporation. Okja, blinded and battered, does not recognize Mija and attacks her. Jay tries to hurt Okja, but Mija prevents him, calming Okja down. A video of the mistreatment of Okja is screened by the ALF to the public, who quickly turn on the Mirando Corporation. Lucy surrenders the company to her twin sister Nancy, who proceeds to call Black Chalk, a private security firm to crack down on ALF members. Mija and the ALF attempt to escape with Okja but are overpowered by the mercenaries. Okja is recaptured and the ALF members are arrested, except for Mija and Jay who are rescued by K. Nancy, having returned to control the company, closes the underground lab, scraps all of Lucy's promotional marketing and starts full-time operations at their slaughterhouse.

Jay and K take Mija to find Okja at the processing plant and find her being forced up a ramp leading into a slaughterhouse. Mija finds Okja as she is about to be killed and shows the Mirando employee a photograph of herself with a baby Okja which prompt him to stop. Nancy arrives and Mija offers the golden pig in exchange for Okja's life. Nancy agrees to the deal and has Jay and K arrested. As Mija and Okja are escorted away, a pair of superpigs manages to push their newborn through the fence, and Okja hides it within her mouth to take it away.

Back in the countryside, Mija resumes her life with her grandfather, Okja, and the new piglet.

In a post-credits scene, Jay is released from prison and gets on board a bus with K and the other members of the organization. With their newest member Kim Woo-shik, a former driver for Mirando Corporation, they plan to disrupt a major meeting involving all of the Mirando shareholders.


  • Ahn Seo-hyun as Mija, a young farmgirl who takes care of Okja.
  • Tilda Swinton as Lucy Mirando, the eccentric powerful CEO of the Mirando Corporation looking to profit from Okja.
    • Swinton also plays Nancy Mirando, Lucy's twin sister, the cruel former CEO of the Mirando Corporation.
  • Paul Dano as Jay, the leader of an animal-rights activist group, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
  • Byun Hee-bong as Heebong, Mija's grandfather.
  • Steven Yeun as K, an animal-rights activist and ALF member, who serves as translator between Mija and the rest of the ALF.
  • Lily Collins as Red, an animal-rights activist and ALF member.
  • Yoon Je-moon as Mundo Park
  • Shirley Henderson as Jennifer, Lucy's assistant.
  • Daniel Henshall as Blond, animal-rights activist, ALF member, and boyfriend of Silver.
  • Devon Bostick as Silver, animal-rights activist, ALF member, and boyfriend of Blond.
  • Choi Woo-shik as Kim Woo-shik, a young driver for the Mirando Corporation.
  • Giancarlo Esposito as Frank Dawson, an associate with the Mirando Corporation.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal as Johnny Wilcox, a disturbed zoologist and TV personality.
  • Choi Hee-seo as Interpreter

Development and production

In October 2015, it was announced that director Bong Joon-ho's next film will feature a South Korean female lead and a cast of English-speaking supporting actors, with filming set in New York.[6] On November 10, 2015 it was picked up by Netflix and Plan B Entertainment with a budget of $50 million, with production starting in late 2016 for release in 2017.[2] Darius Khondji joined the film as cinematographer in February 2016.[7]

Bong sought out Welsh author Jon Ronson to help with the script. Working with a rough draft of the story, Ronson helped develop the English-speaking characters.[8]

Principal photography began on April 22, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea.[9][10] It moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada for more filming on July 31, 2016.[11] Director Bong Joon-ho visited a real Colorado slaughterhouse to prepare for the film's own slaughterhouse sequence, an experience that converted Bong and producer Dooho Choi into temporary vegans.[12]

Bong has called Okja "a very shy and introverted animal. It's a unique animal that we've not seen before."[13]


Okja had its world premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2017.[14] During the first few minutes of its screening at its Cannes premiere, the film was met with boos mixed with some applause twice: once when the Netflix logo appeared on the screen and again during a technical glitch which projected the film in an incorrect aspect ratio for its first seven minutes.[15][16][17] The festival later issued an apology to its filmmakers for projecting the film incorrectly.[18] However, despite the initially negative audience response, the film received a four-minute standing ovation at its end.[19]

The film was released on Netflix on June 28, 2017.[20]


Box office

Several independent theatres in South Korea screened the film to much success, with earnings totalling 2.3 billion KRW ($2.1 million USD) from 300,953 tickets sold.[21]

Critical response

On the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 87% based on 217 reviews, with a weighted average of 7.54/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Okja sees Bong Joon-ho continuing to create defiantly eclectic entertainment – and still hitting more than enough of his narrative targets in the midst of a tricky tonal juggling act."[22] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[23]

Critic A.O. Scott wrote, "Okja is a miracle of imagination and technique, and Okja insists, with abundant mischief and absolute sincerity, that she possesses a soul."[24]

During the screening of the film at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, the opening Netflix title card was booed by the audience, apparently over the controversy of the streaming service's legitimacy in cinema.[25]


Year Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref.
2017 70th Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Bong Joon-ho Nominated
2018 Saturn Awards Best Television Presentation Okja Nominated [26]

See also


  1. Jagernauth, Kevin (April 13, 2017). "Sofia Coppola, Todd Haynes, Michael Haneke, Bong-Joon Ho & 'Twin Peaks' Lead 2017 Cannes Film Festival Line Up". ThePlaylist.net. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  2. Trumbore, Dave (November 10, 2015). "Netflix Backs Bong Joon-ho's 'Okja' with $50 Million". Collider. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  3. "Hostiles (2017)". The Numbers. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
  4. "The 2017 Official Selection". Cannes. April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  5. "2017 Cannes Film Festival Announces Lineup: Todd Haynes, Sofia Coppola, 'Twin Peaks' and More". IndieWire. April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  6. Trumbore, Dave (November 5, 2015). "'Okja': Bong Joon-ho's Monster Movie Adds Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, and Bill Nighy". Collider. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  7. "Bong Joon-ho, Netflix and Darius Khondji join forces for Okja". Asian Movie Pulse. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  8. Schonfeld, Zach (June 17, 2017) http://www.newsweek.com/2017/06/30/okja-jon-ronson-veganism-heroism-corporate-harm-626829.html
  9. Evry, Max (April 22, 2016). "Okja Begins Filming with Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  10. "Bong Joon Ho's Okja Starts Filming with Tilda Swinton". Collider. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  11. Trumbore, Dave (June 12, 2016). "The Predator, Okja, Death Note Filming Dates Revealed". Collider.com. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  12. Kohn, Eric (June 7, 2017). "'Okja': How One Visit to a Slaughterhouse Turned Bong Joon Ho Into a Vegan". IndieWire. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  13. "Okja: exclusive images from Netflix's 2017 thriller starring Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal - NME". NME. December 22, 2016. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  14. Tartaglione, Nancy; Evans, Greg (April 13, 2017). "Cannes Lineup: Todd Haynes, Sofia Coppola, Noah Baumbach, 'Twin Peaks'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  15. Lang, Brent (May 19, 2017). "Cannes Apologizes For 'Okja' Screening Technical Glitches". Variety. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  16. Ryan, Patrick (May 19, 2017). "Cannes: Netflix's controversial 'Okja' gets booed for technical snafu". USA Today. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  17. Waxman, Sharon; Pond, Steve (May 19, 2017). "Netflix's 'Okja' Booed at First Press Screening in Cannes". The Wrap. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  18. Mumford, Gwilym (May 19, 2017). "Cannes apologises after technical problems and booing disrupts Netflix film Okja". The Guardian. Retrieved May 19, 2017.
  19. Gardner, Chris (May 19, 2017). "Cannes: Netflix's 'Okja' Premiere Gets Four-Minute Standing Ovation After Press Screening Snafu". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  20. "First Teaser for Bong Joon-ho's Okja, Coming to Netflix". ComingSoon.net. February 28, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  21. "Okja". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  22. "Okja (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  23. "Okja reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  24. Scott, A. O. (June 27, 2017). "Review: In 'Okja,' a Girl and Her Pig Take on the Food Industrial Complex". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  25. Tiffany, kaitlyn. O. (March 17, 2017). "Netflix booed at Okja's Cannes premiere".
  26. McNary, Dave (March 15, 2018). "'Black Panther,' 'Walking Dead' Rule Saturn Awards Nominations". Variety. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
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