‘Broker’ Symbols and Themes, Explained: An Exploration of the Blurred Lines Between Good and Evil | DMT

Hirokazu Koreeda’s “Broker” is a story of hope, forgiveness, and sacrifice that urges us to look on the bright side even when we are constantly surrounded by absurdities and prejudice. It is said that a person’s motive behind doing or not doing something is of paramount importance. In legal systems around the world, it is imperative that the action is always supported by an adequate reason to prove whether the person is a criminal or not. Well, if this is so, then a person who lies can be honest, and a person who violates the laws of the country can remain innocent? Hirokazu Koreeda persistently appeals to his cynicism and asks these questions throughout the runtime of his movie, “Broker.”

Koreeda presents you with a conflict where you arrive at a trial without even thinking twice. For most people, the first 15 minutes established the fact that Soo-jin and Lee, the detectives, are the leads; Ha Sang-Hyeon and Dong-Soo are the villains of the narrative; and Moon So-young is an irresponsible mother who doesn’t think twice before abandoning her baby. But, as the story progresses and you learn more about the backstories, true intentions, and motivations of the characters, your critical judgment of how people should behave begins to fade. Believe me when I say this: when “Broker” ends, you will find your judgments, which you had at the beginning, not only wrong but blasphemous.

Moon So-Young let her son out of the baby box, but couldn’t part with the newborn. She went back in search of her child and that’s when she learned that Sang-Hyeon and Dong-Soo were planning to sell the baby. There was apparently a massive black market for adoption operating under the radar, as many people wanted to avoid otherwise time-consuming processes. Sang-hyeon assured So-young that she only had the boy’s best interests in mind, but it all sounded absurd and too good to be true at the time. Sang-hyeon said the Korean adoption process was so tedious that most of the children ended up in government institutions, and authorities were often unable to find the right type of guardian for the child.

According to the data, a scant 11 percent of children have been placed for domestic adoption in the past 50 years. The problem is that many of them are sent to government institutions when they can’t find an adoptive home, and they don’t end up having equal opportunities there. “Broker” points out this system glitch, which is why Sang-Hyeon and Dong-Soo become a blessing in disguise for the boy. Moon So-Young even jokes that, at a later stage, when she saw the kind of people Sang Hyeon and Dong-soo were, if she knew her son was with them, she wouldn’t have bothered. return. The bureaucracy can become tedious, and at times the entire system becomes contradictory. What good are adoption laws when they put obstacles in the way of people who really want to provide a home for an abandoned child?

On the one hand, the regime had “baby boxes”, as if encouraging parents to go ahead and abandon their child, and on the other hand, they were not even ready to find an amicable middle ground to secure the child’s future. The entire legal system that supports the notion of what’s right and what’s not seems so Kafkaesque that you really can’t decide which side to take. At one point, Soo-Jin and Lee, the detectives, questioned their own actions and what the authorities constantly told them to do. They felt that instead of facilitating an adoption, they were actually setting a trap for people who were trying to find the best family for the child. In fact, they had seen how skeptical Sang and Dong were when deciding whether or not the adoptive parents were right for the child.

If there was even a hint of suspicion, Sang Hyeon and Dong-soo completely rejected the family. They wanted the parents-to-be to feel as attached to the child as they had for the past few days. And that’s where the reason we talked about earlier comes into play. If they had been doing it just for the money, they could have given the baby to the fake parents planted by the detectives. But they didn’t because they had doubts that they could resell the child, and they knew that not everyone would look out for the best interests of the child as they did.

“Broker” also has a point of view on the ethical aspects of adoption and whether a mother should have the freedom to decide what is best for her and her body. Moon So-young believes that abandoning the baby cannot be compared to the cowardly act of killing a life even before her birth. Recently, there has been a lot of fuss about abortion laws in developed countries like the United States of America, and in many states, the constitutional right to abortion has been annulled. But criminalizing abortion is not the solution, and we have the precedents to prove that it is not the correct modus operandi if you want to keep people in line. Rather than looking out for the mother’s safety, conservatives endorse anti-abortion laws because they don’t find them ‘morally’ correct. If they had been concerned about the welfare of others, they would have known that studies speculate that a ban could lead to a 20 percent increase in abortion-related deaths of women. I’m not going to get into a debate about what’s right and what’s wrong, but the point I want to make is who gives people the right to be the standard bearers of morality in society. We can all have opinions, but we cannot expect or force each and every individual to follow them as if they were a universal law.

Abandonment, loneliness, identity, acceptance, and making difficult decisions in life that seem quite simple on the surface are some of the recurring themes of Koreeda’s “Broker.” We came to know that Dong-Soo himself had been abandoned, and that’s why he hated mothers who did that to his children. But Dong-Soo was not unhappy. It could have been a life of struggle, but he enjoyed it and was grateful for what he had. Sang-Hyeon loved children, and since he was deprived of that happiness, he found her taking care of the abandoned babies until some family came and adopted them. Hae-Jin, the boy who goes on the journey with Sang-Hyeon and Dong-Soo, says that Woo-Sung was lucky because his own mother named him and he didn’t have to go through the ordeal of naming himself. Hae-jin very naively says something that hits you in the stomach. He says he wouldn’t have bothered looking for a name for himself if the institution where he stayed hadn’t told him to put his name on things that belonged to him. He was quite possessive of his ball, and he knew that in order to keep it, he would have to name himself sooner rather than later.

“Broker” is full of conversations so stimulating that, more than once, they leave you teary-eyed. You will never find the characters crying, but there is an innate sadness that has become a permanent home within them. But “Broker” is neither pessimistic nor defeatist in its approach, and the characters find happiness despite being in such botched situations. Moon So-Young found a family when he least expected it. His thoughtful eyes said more than a thousand words, for he had never believed that he could find people in his life that he could call family. Even after going through what he went through, he chose not to be selfish. He wanted his son to be happy, even if it meant not being by his side.

“Broker” is moving and, more than anything, a testament to the fact that satisfaction is not the death of desire, and should not be seen as a compromise. One can be satisfied with the status quo and yet want to work to improve things. It’s a liberating feeling to let go of regrets and take off unnecessary baggage on our shoulders. Acceptance never impedes your process, but it gives you the strength to find happiness at any time. The characters in “Broker” could have talked about the unfairness of life, but then, they would have been wasting precious moments.

Life wasn’t perfect and they would keep working towards it, but in the process, they didn’t forget to enjoy the little moments. They refrained from hating their life or blaming the institution and those responsible for contributing to making it miserable, because it would have been of no use to them. ‘Koreeda’ takes you on a sentimental and heartbreaking journey that will make you question your ideals, principles and judgments but, at the endIt will leave you more hopeful and optimistic than before.

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