<Minari> was released in 2020 amid a pandemic. Although the film is centered on a Korean family who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s, it gained worldwide sympathy at the same time. The purpose of this paper is to interpret the reason in relation to the contemporary situation and discourse.
Jacob, the main character of <Minari>, is the subject of the struggle for recognition called the patriarch. He identifies himself with the signifier of ‘successful Koreans in America’ and seeks to make subjectivation by internalizing the Symbolic order of American society. However, the ideology of the ‘American Dream’ hides the US intention to secure cheap labor, so it is not easy to achieve his Symbolic desire. This situation creates a conflict between Jacob and Monica. The more Jacob tries to realize ego-ideal, the more he leads to self-denial, and violence occurs in the process of trying to identify others as well. In contrast, Monica is the subject who perceives her own vulnerability. Monica’s emphasis on ‘together’ is because she knows the fragility of herself and her others and the inevitability of dependence.
Soonja is a decentralized subject who is not assimilated to the name of ‘grandmother’ required by the system. Sunja approaches David by ‘address’. Sunja becomes the condition and world for David to move toward his true subjectivization. The ego-ideal that David was given a “useful person” by Jacob, and the fear of the God of the big Other, projected by Monica, begin to dissipate due to Sunja. The fire caused by Sunja and the burnout of the warehouse are a complete failure and hopeless event from the Symbolic, but this failure is an ethical turn in which one realizes vulnerability and dependence.
<Minari> contains the process of a achievement subject with Symbolic desires and fantasies realizing their vulnerability and becoming a decentralized subject. The film shows that through this subjectivization, an ethical turn of taking responsibility for others is possible. For this reason, <Minari> is a film that has the values required by the pandemic era, and this paper can be meaningful in that it derives that value.