The Least Endangered Species: Park Chan Wook’s Films Validate the Human Desire for Vengeance and Anger

Humans are often called the most intelligent “animals” on Earth—that the only thing that makes us human is our innate and distinct self-awareness.

All else that we possess such as flesh, metabolism, and even recognizing hierarchy are the attributes of other wild animals.

Yet, when we are backed into a corner, we seem to go back to our most instinctive selves—animals who will fight back to death just to survive.

Ideas keep us from becoming animals.

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We feel superior to animals because we are more self-aware.

However, when it comes to everyday battles, we are not like the alpha male lion that attacks a threatening nomad to show dominance.

We fight differently. We, sometimes, take the much-preferred “high road” or drop hints of saltiness over our adversaries on social media.

But for some people, taking the “high road” is one essential mantra that is difficult to practice. No matter how many Buddhism quotes flood people’s newsfeeds, sometimes people snap and let hell loose. For society, this is absurd.

Men or women, young or old—we are accustomed to putting on a face, just suck it up, and move along.

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But where does contempt go after being suppressed? Do they vanish into thin air or eventually snowball into one giant mass of terror that can wreak havoc any time?

Films that validate our taste for vengeance

Park Chan Wook, a South Korean filmmaker, believes that today’s societal norm is to not express our anger and keep it inside—just to get along with people. If we feel contempt, it is blasphemous to even just open up a bit about it.

“I guess I probably make violent films partly because I can’t express my anger in my real life very well.” – Park Chan Wook

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People would often get defensive when they’re being called out, so the provoked person would just gulp down their concerns. Needless to say, this causes a strain on relationships, which jeopardize mental health.

Assuming that’s the case for most people, how can they address their feelings without being taken for granted? How can they ever gain peace?

Through his films, Park has portrayed what are the limits of human morality—how far would a person go to avenge his pride—and how worse could a person become when they are pushed to the limits of their sanity.

Most especially, they depict what happens when a person loses their control—their willingness to forgive—and what happens when deeply suppressed anger surfaces later as an unstoppable machine of vengeance and hatred.

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Park Chan Wook’s films validate the anger that’s always suppressed by the fear of being bashed by society. And for that reason, I truly admire him.

They don’t necessarily show that revenge is always the best idea. But somehow, to his film viewers and the people who often don’t get to redeem themselves each day, I believe that his films validate their will to get back at life sometimes and just be angry and be human.

In a way, cinema, literature, and art validate humanity. Park’s films serve as an affirmation that the anger, contempt, and the desire to get revenge are real and valid. Only how we address them defines what we really are.

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