JUNG_E’s Robot Mom Is Killing It in This Netflix K-Drama

JUNG_E, the formidable new science-fiction movie from Train to Busan director Yeon Sang-ho, dominated the Netflix Top 10 as quickly because it debuted. Although it marks the visionary director’s welcome return to a Neflix manufacturing following his Okay-Drama Hellbound (2021), Yeon is not the inventive who’s concerned in two concurrent initiatives on the streaming service — that is actress Kim Hyun-joo. Kim’s character, the titular JUNG_E/Yun Jung-yi, isn’t the movie’s protagonist neither is Kim the primary billed performer, however a JUNG_E with out Kim’s devastatingly nuanced efficiency because the protagonist’s mom could be a movie missing the second half of its soul. What can not help however delight (and tickle the humorous bone in one of the simplest ways) is the serendipitous truth Kim additionally leads the continuing Netflix-distributed Okay-Drama Trolley with an equally arresting efficiency as a human mom in modern-day Korea who’s not too dissimilar from JUNG_E’s futuristic mercenary. A forty five-year-old actress grounding two simultaneous initiatives? Yes, please. Both roles even function unintentional thematic mirrors.


What is ‘JUNG_E’ About?

Kim Hyun-joo in JUNG_E
Image through Netflix 

With a premise too practical for consolation — unaddressed local weather change forces humanity into area; a handful of the 80 shelters floating among the many stars splinter off to wage an ongoing conflict in opposition to the remainder of mankind — JUNG_E opens in media res following an unnamed feminine soldier on a battlefield. Her instantaneously confirmed talent (these strikes, rattling) and matted grit (thanks for the realism) think of previous motion heroines like Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in the Alien franchise. That, coupled with Kim Hyun-joo’s ferocity, appears all of the table-setting that is required for a sci-fi motion rollercoaster.

Except this soldier catches a well-timed blast from considered one of her robotic assailants. Perhaps this was an accelerated Psycho bathe second? Maybe a faux dying? It’s undoubtedly a story fake-out as the girl is not lifeless, however wasn’t “technically” even alive. This was a simulation contained in the thoughts of an AI carrying a duplicate of the girl’s face, and the determine’s now surrounded by engineers taking notes, making firmware changes, separating elements, and shutting the AI offline.

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‘JUNG_E’s Real Battleground Is Identity and Empathy

Kim Hyun-joo in Jung_E

JUNG_E‘s true battleground is considered one of identification, empathy, and the respective erasure and lack thereof. The copycat android started life as Captain Yun Jung-yi, a human mercenary answerable for the Allied Forces’s biggest wins in opposition to the splinter factions. Captain Yun’s ardour, briefly glimpsed in the AI simulation, wasn’t born from a persevering love for Earth. Her younger daughter Yun Seo-hyun (Park So-yi) has lung most cancers. A ludicrously costly surgical procedure will take away the tumor, and in a twenty second century when humanity stays at conflict with each other, military mercenary work is one of the simplest ways for a single mom to afford the operation.

Seo-hyun’s surgical procedure proves profitable whereas Jung-yi’s meant last mission goes awry, leaving her in a coma. On Earth, the one different member of Jung-yi’s household — destroyed by her grief and unable to offer for Seo-hyun’s future due to her personal poverty — permits an experimental AI firm to make use of Jung-yi’s recollections and picture in the event of a battle android able to assuming Jung-yi’s place in the conflict effort.

More than three a long time later, Seo-hyun oversees the JUNG_E challenge. Just as Seo-hyun’s mom joined an intergalactic battle to guard her daughter’s life, Seo-hyun goals to revive her mom’s legacy as a hero through the JUNG_E challenge. Their passions are private and the conditions a way to an finish. Spurred by a number of mitigating elements — the terminal return of Seo-hyun’s most cancers, a peace treaty rendering the JUNG_E challenge null and void, and an worker utilizing one of many fashions as a intercourse toy — Seo-hyun chooses to assist a totally conscious JUNG_E escape the ability.

Kim Hyun-joo’s Performance Gives ‘JUNG_E’ the Grounded Feel It Needs

Kim Hyun-joo in JUNG_E
Image through Netflix 

It’s in line with Yeon Sang-ho’s fashion for JUNG_E to be a deeply psychological meditation on grief, motherhood as personhood, and love packaged contained in the aesthetic of a style piece. And Kim Hyun-joo’s efficiency does not miss each little bit of nuance she will be able to wring from the already layered materials. The dehumanization of each conflict and most cancers present in the pained tears Jung-yi holds again when Seo-hyun provides her a very good luck appeal; a frightened baby should not additionally need to worry for her father or mother. Her love burns even stronger than ache, seen in Jung-yi gently stroking Seo-hyun’s hair or the actress’s quietly reassuring line supply. When Seo-hyun restores Jung-yi’s consciousness to full consciousness inside a JUNG_E mannequin that is been severed from the waist down, wires dangling free, Kim’s disoriented, terrified screams are virtually too agonizing to listen to. And but, her subsequent weakened weariness when she asks in the event that they discovered Seo-hyun’s appeal on the battlefield — she promised to not lose it — is extra shattering. Despite a handful of scenes, Kim’s acute honesty leaves an indelible impression and grounds JUNG_E‘s emotional core whereas heightening the movie’s total influence.

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If Jung-yi fights in an area conflict to save lots of her daughter’s life, Trolley’s Kim Hye-joo’s battlefield is emotional after spending a long time hiding from a life-altering occasion. The sequence raises consciousness relating to a few of Korea’s extra taboo topics via the lead character, a politician’s spouse (Hye-joo), as secrets and techniques about her previous unravel alongside present revelations concerning the household she adores. Between her devoted work working a e-book restore store, constantly and cheerfully tending to her husband’s and daughter’s wants, and refusal to enter the limelight of her husband’s profession, it is apparent that Hye-joo is a form soul, if reserved. A extra sophisticated dynamic’s at play together with her older adopted son, whose indiscretions introduced the shadow of controversy onto his father. She loves him, but is pressured to query whether or not she cares for her organic daughter extra. The refined and quickly-shifting strains of Kim’s face — her intestine response, her backpedaling, and her torturous guilt — say greater than a short, morally black-and-white sentence.

Kim’s Mirroring Roles Feel Real, Not Exaggerated

When known as to carry out a frequent excessive stage of emotion, nonetheless, Kim by no means rings false or exaggerated. Hye-joo’s loyal want for privateness stems from her trauma following a highschool sexual assault. After reporting it to the police, the assailant, her finest buddy’s brother, took his personal life. The household and city blamed and vilified her, believing the fame of a promising boy simply accepted into faculty as a substitute of an orphaned woman. As such, it is implied Hye-joo has by no means processed the expertise, burying it alongside her previous title. The security and belief she feels together with her husband and daughter by no means waver via thought, expression, or deed, however even earlier than the assailant’s sister invades her life bent upon revenge, tragic native occasions set off Hye-joo’s recollections. Her fingers tremble round a plastic bag and her eyes skitter from nook to nook, scrambling for an escape path; she laughs off her husband’s advances or robotically raises her voice when a stranger enters her bed room with out permission. Later, when re-traumatizing incidents strike tragically nearer to residence, her sobs double her over or drive her to the bottom. Hye-joo’s previously relaxed physique language stays continually hunched, her gaze avoidant; her fingers decide her pores and skin and her as soon as calm voice sounds strained.

No matter the variations between JUNG_E and Trolley, Kim’s efficiency grounds every function in equal believability with out their simple similarities overlapping. Each is mesmerizing, refined, and distinctive, highlighting totally different sides of the veteran actress’s expertise. Both Jung-yi and Hye-joo are caught in unjustifiable circumstances by the highly effective forces past their management, and each characterize extremely complicated themes comparable to motherhood as personhood, grief, and humiliation. Both are survivors, deservingly sympathetic and remarkably rendered.

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