Humans have lived with animals for a long time. In the past, people and animals lived in a hierarchy of human conveniences such as cattle for farming, horses for transportation, and dogs for home protection. However, today people and animals have formed horizontal relationships. Animals now live together with humans and have become part of the family. Furthermore, humans and animals rely on and trust each other. Animals reached out to humans first, so humans could recognize the minds of animals. Besides communicating with dogs and cats, people can also interact with chimpanzees and bonobos, which resemble people. Then, how can humans interact with animals?
"The birth of a hominoid began when an ape and a human being assimilated into one."
Jini, Jinny (2019)
Primate keeper Lee Jini studied chimpanzees at Wamba Camp in the Republic of the Congo. Throughout her studies, she was fascinated by bonobos, which, though they appear similar, are distinctly different from chimpanzees. However, on the last day in the Republic of the Congo, she didn’t rescue the young bonobo despite she saw the animal was trapped in the cage. Overcome with guilt, she decided to quit her job as a primate keeper. On her last day at the primate center, Jini rescued a bonobo near the center and named it 'Jinny'. Shortly thereafter, because of a traffic accident, Jini's soul entered Jinny's body. Minju, another character in the story, had lost purpose in life and was wandering about. At that time, Jini appeared to him as a bonobo. Earlier that afternoon, Minju had seen Jini, working as a staff at the primate center. At first, he refused to believe Jinny was Jini, but gradually he came to believe through Jinny's human behavior and actions. Jini was convinced that her soul would automatically return to her human body after being returned to the hospital where she was hospitalized. However, things didn't go as expected. Minju was arrested by the police and Jini was returned to the primate center. During the ordeal, Jini realized that Jinny's soul and her own had become intertwined. Whenever Jinny's soul took control, Jini saw Jinny's memories, which made Jini realize that the bonobo she had seen while in the Republic of the Congo was Jinny. The body of Jini would be lost as the injuries from the traffic accident were too severe. Jini wished to live, but she knew that she was invading another creature’s body. What choice will Jini make?
Thrill writer Jeong You-jeong is often for suspense. Some of Jeong’s works such as Seven Years of Night, which is the story of people surrounding the death of a child, and The Origin of Species, which dives into the evil of humans, are representative books. However, this novel differs. It looks at the connection between a human and an animal. The novel discusses life and death through the unfamiliar animal bonobo. The book Jini, Jinny describes the life of Lee Jini who does her best in life and Kim Minju who has lost purpose in life and bonobo Jinny who has lost freedom in life. Readers will ask themselves consistently about choices in life as they stand before death by reflecting on the characters in the story, each with their views of life. Bonobo Jinny, however, cannot tell readers her story directly, so it is done through the memories of Jinny that Jini experienced, of being captured in the forest and watching the birth of her younger brother. The more Jini and Jinny interact, the more they appear to evolve into a hominoid; that is the human and the animal become one. The creation of a hominoid makes the theme of the story deeper that it is human and animal interaction. With Jini and Jinny, readers will ponder deeply their attitudes for life and death and the link between humans and animals.
"Let's not part again. Maeum, I'll protect you no matter what."
Heart is… (2006)
An 11-year-old boy named Chan and his sister Soy who is six years old live with each other. The family is very poor, so the children's mother must leave the kids at home to go to work to make money. Chan, who grows up without his parents, wants to make his sister happy and gives her a puppy for her birthday. Therefore, he steals a golden retriever puppy for her. Soy names the dog 'Maeum', which means heart in Korean. Chan, Soy, and Maeum live together as a family. However, their happiness is short-lived. One cold winter day, Maeum and Soy fall into the river when the ice breaks as they enjoy sledding on the frozen water. Soy drowns but the dog survives. After that, Chan despises the dog and acts coldly towards him. Eventually, he leaves home hoping to find his mother. Chan heads to Seoul to find his mother, and after much searching, he finally locates his mother. The reunion doesn’t go as well as he expected. He is left on his own again. He is then cared for by a bad man named Ahn Gilgang. Chan brings him money each day earned by begging. As he endures this harsh life, Maeum visited Chan. The dog protects Chan and keeps him away from harm. Chan and Ahn have a confrontation one day because Ahn’s own dog died. Ahn tries to kill Chan, but Maeum protects him. Chan finally realizes the dog's love and faithfulness. Later, after knowing all the facts, Chan’s mother returns home. Sadly, the dog becomes ills and dies.
Most Sookmyungians will have likely seen this film as a child or be, at least, familiar with the storyline. The movie’s poster and plot made it seem like a film for children, the story between a child and a puppy. However, the film really looks at the solidarity beyond human and animal coexistence. Maeum loves and follows Chan unconditionally throughout his life. Though Maeum was abandoned by Chan, Maeum faithfully stays by Chan’s side through all kinds of hardships. Audiences will love this love story filled with devotion and passion. The solidarity between the animal and the human is clear. Animals also feel emotions, show loyalty to their loved ones, and empathize with others. For these reasons, the film is touching. Maeum was abandoned, beaten, and starved, yet it loved and followed Chan with all his heart. They didn’t go well because of the misunderstanding of his owner, the two learn to love each other with open hearts. Viewers will surely understand that the story is moving for various factors in addition to the great loyalty of Maeum. Dogs, cats, and other animals are loved by humans. SMT recommends watching this movie or watching it again, especially animal-lovers. The film will touch sookmyungians’ heart and will know the love given by animals.
Ahn Ha Yura / Culture Section Editor
Jung Kim Hyeseung / Society Section Editor