Children who believe they can survive without eating

[Reporter Kim Seong-ho]

This is a world where the value of knowledge is disparaged. In a world where you can directly access knowledge of all things with a cell phone in your pocket, that may be inevitable, but there are many times when this goes too far. Common sense no longer becomes common sense, and ignorance also degenerates into something that is not shameful. The number of people who proudly show off as if it is no problem to outsource knowledge to the knowledge encyclopedia, a portal site, is increasing more and more.

There are also things that occupy the space vacated by knowledge. As knowledge becomes more common, some things become more precious. For example, something like wisdom is like that. Wisdom is to see the surface and know the other side, to see the one and foresee the two. It doesn’t stop at knowing, it goes on to become wise. Distinguish between what you know and what you don’t know, and from there you can make better decisions.

However, not many people pay attention to the fact that knowledge is the basis of wisdom, and that acquired and embodied knowledge is the root of wisdom. Knowledge is the foundation of wise thinking. No wisdom in the world can stand upright without the knowledge that supports it. On the other hand, don’t we all too often see that the pursuit of wisdom with a lack of knowledge easily leads to witchcraft and falsehood?

▲ Club Zero Poster
ⓒ Pan Cinema Co., Ltd.

How harmful is faith without knowledge?

<Club Zero> talks about how harmful belief without knowledge can be. This is a film that shows, one step further, what results can be reached when you believe you know something without acquiring a variety of knowledge, or even when you consider what you know to be superior to others. Since what the movie criticizes is by no means unusual in today’s Korean society, it has many implications.

Mia Wasikowska, who gained recognition in Korea for director Park Chan-wook’s

Teacher Nobaek does not consider it his job to simply plan students’ menus and prepare meals. She attempts to change the fundamentals of how students eat food. She teaches conscious eating to students who sign up for her classes. Conscious eating is a way to eat food by knowing what you are eating and communing with the things contained in it. This may be quite unfamiliar to students who used to eat food without thinking, but under Nobaek’s teaching, students chop finely chopped food with a fork, hold it in front of their eyes, look at it for a while, then put it in their mouths and chew it.

▲ Club Zero still cut
ⓒ Pan Cinema Co., Ltd.

A teacher who digs into students’ deficiencies

Although it may seem absurd and ridiculous at first glance, Novak’s class is extremely serious. In the process of producing food, aspects of polluting the environment, unjustly taking the lives of livestock, and excessively producing irritating foods that cause nutritional imbalances to promote greater consumption are mentioned. It is also pointed out that excessive consumption of these foods causes humans to get sick and die earlier than their given life expectancy. One could agree that there is a problem with the consumer economy that leads us to consume more and more meat, sugar, and processed foods, but Novack’s path goes much further than that.

Novak changes the students little by little. At first it was eating consciously, but then it progressed to eating less, and later not eating at all. He even preaches that it is possible for him not to eat at all, leading his students to envy him.

The promotional text for the movie reads, “STEP 1. Take a deep breath and focus only on the food in front of you. STEP 2. Try to eat only one type of food at a time. STEP 3. Get rid of the misconception that you will die if you do not eat food. Those of you who have passed the stage are now appointed as members of ‘Club Zero’!’ the expression is written.

This step is the process through which Nobaek leads the students. It may seem like a method that energetic children are unlikely to follow, but Nobaek’s skill in exquisitely digging into the students’ deficiencies makes it possible.

▲ Club Zero still cut
ⓒ Pan Cinema Co., Ltd.

Join the zero club that lives without eating

Finally, several students taking the class pledge to become members of the Zero Club, a group that does not eat anything, like Nobaek. In fact, it is impossible to maintain life without eating anything, but Nobaek preaches that such a life is possible. They even claim that the belief that it is impossible was created and spread by malicious people in the world. Students who trust Nobaek firmly believe in this and begin a life of not eating anything.

Each student has his or her own flaws. There may be a variety of cases, including a child suffering from anorexia due to an obsession with body image, a child who lives alone with a divorced mother and must not miss out on a scholarship to attend a high-end private school, a child who is tired of the interference of parents who lead the parents’ association, and a child whose parents are indifferent to them. I am having difficulties. Nobaek exquisitely makes up for that deficiency and establishes himself as an indispensable figure among students. And I present my beliefs to them as if they were the right answer.

The sight of Nobaek taking control of the children’s minds, way of life, and even their bodies gives the feeling of seeing a specific group that has been ideologized as a pseudo-religion. The process of brainwashing and blind faith that exists in the real world takes place between Nobaek and his students. Students can no longer freely accept outside knowledge. However, I believe that what I know is enough and that it constitutes wisdom. The topic of ethical eating is so easy because I believe that my beliefs are better than the way the world spreads them.

▲ Club Zero still cut
ⓒ Pan Cinema Co., Ltd.

Leads people to see, think, and discuss

The film effectively shows how ideas that seem moral at first glance bind human freedom and destroy their lives. Understanding each person’s weaknesses, getting closer to them, and finally creating a relationship that cannot be resisted, and further sharing an idea that can be believed to be superior to the general public, is a pseudo-religion, and it is interesting to see the process of creation and spread of ideology..

This film focuses on changes in members within a limited organization rather than on provocative external events. Teachers, students, and parents are all that appear, and their changing relationships become the narrative. From there, you can read the story of parents who don’t pay much attention to something really precious until a big problem arises, and of children who make excessive demands but don’t really get the attention they need. As the movie depicts, it is a world where such brainwashing and blind faith are often found behind ideologies that appear to have ethical superiority. This movie also shows the beginning of understanding him without hating him.

<Club Zero> is not a movie that ends with enjoyment. It is a work that can be enjoyed by looking at it, thinking about it, and tracing the answers to many questions that the movie failed to answer. It is a film that makes you realize the value of sharing different thoughts by watching and sharing together, receiving more knowledge from it, and thinking. The value of this film shines because it is a world where films like this are rare.

Additional post | It is also featured in critic Kim Seong-ho’s Spotted Cow ( You can find more articles by searching ‘Kim Seong-ho’s Cine Long Live’.

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