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'Made in Korea' review

Comic Books

‘Made in Korea’ review

Is this Image title more than just a sci-fi tale of a robot child adopted into a human family?

Pretty much all sci-fi stories about artificial intelligence can trace their roots back to Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, the famous story of a wooden puppet who comes to life, but dreams of becoming a real boy. The idea of something artificial becoming “human” has been a recurring theme in science fiction for decades. Collidi’s story continues to influence countless others, from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner to Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence — and now, Image Comics’ Made in Korea

In a world where robots known as Proxies are created to serve the needs of humanity, a software engineer in South Korea creates the world’s first A.I. system without the supervision of Wook-Jin Industries, the company he works for. Adopted and sent to live with a lovely couple, the A.I. system is the 9 year-old Jesse, who is equipped with an encyclopedic brain, but is socially awkward and tries to adjust to what it means to be human. 

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Writer Jeremy Holt doesn’t break any new ground in this concept — in fact, the story takes direct cues from Spielberg’s A.I., which was about a family adopting a machine child. That said, there is some fondness in how the adorable Jesse interacts with her new family, where there is genuine warmth from the first-time parents.  

And then you have Kim Dong Chul, the software engineer who goes behind his company’s back. Though he initially seems to be an antagonist in terms of breaking up the family, the more we see his side of the story, he realizes the mistakes in the decisions he makes despite his good intentions. Whenever the comic leans more into the idea of family, there is an emotional core that redeems these six issues. 

Although many of the ideas explored here add social relevance to where we are now, whether it is race, sexuality or the fear of public shootings, the story doesn’t really carry the dramatic weight to a lot of these issues. Probably due to its position as a simple sci-fi story about a robot child, the discussion of race isn’t really a thing. Writer Jeremy Holt is non-binary, so it feels like a missed opportunity that that isn’t really explored here outside of a happy ending that addresses it. 

One great thing to take away from Made in Korea is the terrific art by George Schall, who also serves as the book’s colorist. Along with his cartoonish characters, which are very expressive and don’t have to rely on dialogue for us to know they are feeling, Schall does a great job in distinguishing the two primary settings. Whilst South Korea is defined by its hi-tech architecture, most of which is presented in moody greens, Texas is more mundane with warm colors.

Despite good intentions of trying to be socially relevant, a lot of the ideas in Made in Korea mesh together and yet sort of don’t. That said, if you want to read a sci-fi story that finds its emotion through family, Made in Korea is worth checking out.

'Made in Korea' review
‘Made in Korea’ review
Made in Korea
Despite its good intentions of trying to be socially relevant, a lot of the ideas mesh together and yet sort of don’t. That said, if you want to read a sci-fi story that finds its emotion through family, Made in Korea is worth checking out.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Stunning art by George Schall, who brings a lot of layers to his characters and environments.
Things get emotionally compelling with the characters whenever the story is simply about family.
The book tries to explore ideas like race and gender, but they don't carry much dramatic weight and thus clunkily mesh together.
6.5
Good

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