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My Name’s visceral and creative knife fights are not for the faint of heart. But why do My Name’s gangsters prefer wielding knives instead of guns?
Warning: the following contains SPOILERS for My Name.
My Name’s gangsters are always ready to stand toe-to-toe in a brawl or knife fight – but why do they seem to avoid guns? Out of the many members of the Dongcheon gang, only its leader Choi Mu-jin had a gun, which he even kept in a safe. My Name’s knife usage stems from Korean entertainment’s long history of depicting creative knife and hand-to-hand melees.
Apart from My Name, this can also be observed in other K-drama series such as Vincenzo, Friend, Our Legend, and Heartless City. Before these shows, dozens of Korean films like The Man From Nowhere, Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time, Gangster High, The Outlaws, and A Bittersweet Life have set the stage for this style and format. Other than the fact that melee fight scenes offer a much more visceral experience than any gunfight, what’s the real reason why guns aren’t that common in Korean television and cinema?
My Name’s knife melees are rooted in South Korea’s long history of gun and gang-related legislation. Ji-woo and the Dongcheon Gang, like all the other gangsters from the above-mentioned films and series, are subject to Korea’s strict gun laws. These laws are deftly enforced through comprehensive background checks for gun ownership, categorical restrictions for civilians, and measures to ensure that all issued firearms are traceable. This makes it very difficult for anyone who is not in the military, police, or government to access guns, which makes knives, fists, and other melee weapons much more practical for street gangs. The firearms issued to law enforcement come with even stricter provisions, including ammo limits and high traceability – factors that have been used in the plots of various K-dramas like My Name and Squid Game. Moreover, this is why guns are a status symbol in the Korean criminal underworld. At the same time, as the Dongcheon gang shows, there’s power in not having to rely on troublesome firearms, which is why Mu-jin was strategically developing fighters in the organization’s gym. As Korea’s gun laws have been in place for decades, its influence on the country’s shows and movies has been apparent throughout the years.
Moreover, Korea’s strict gun laws are just a product of the country’s hard stance on organized crime. After the boom of organized crime in the 1950s, a series of sustained and aggressive government campaigns from the 1960s to the present have greatly limited traditional gang activity. While My Name’s cast of gangsters is often portrayed operating out in the open, the reality is that what’s left of Korea’s organized crime factions remain very covert. And in order not to draw any attention to themselves, Korea’s real gangsters rarely use or have firearms.
My Name, at its core, is a heartwarming tale about love and family. But getting there entails seeing some of the most violent scenes in modern K-drama. My Name quickly rose to Netflix’s list of top ten shows since its release, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.
More: My Name: What Happens To Ji-woo After The Finale?
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About The Author
(74 Articles Published)
Peter is an elder millennial, cat-father, illustrator, and freelance writer for Screen Rant. Born, raised, and still based in Metro Manila, Philippines, Peter’s knowledge of geekdom was forged in the lagging fires of 56kbps Internet and dodgy forums, and now burns bright with the light of Netflix and downloads. When he’s not having visions about the end of the multiverse, he’s either bothering his cat or brewing ginger beer.
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