How to Steal a Dog is a 2014 film directed by Kim Sung-ho. It follows the story of a girl who steals a wealthy woman’s dog in order to get a large reward for bringing him back. But, this isn’t completely a tale of greed; she simply wants to help her single mother buy a home.
Barbara O’Connor’s novel of the same title was the inspiration behind this film, and it’s interesting to note that O’Connor’s children’s book seems to have a slightly more adult tone to it when on-screen. Ji-so’s naivety when thinking that the $500 reward would be able to buy a house is heart-breaking as a whole, but even more upsetting when putting it into perspective of an affordable-homes crisis. In fact, most of the plot has Marxist undertones. The little girl’s father disappears after his pizza business goes bankrupt, further reflecting how important economic success is in the twenty-first century.
Ji-so is (believably so, seeing as she’s only ten years old) unaware of this hierarchical order. She befriends Dae-po, a homeless man who lives in the building in which she keeps the dog, when organising and executing her plan. So clearly, these social orders are established at a later age. The story manages to offer a happy ending in which everyone bar a single ‘bad guy’ are given homes. Stealing the dog doesn’t come with moral consequences; it’s the essence of the narrative, it’s what allows for the happy ending.
Despite this relativelt hefty analysis, the film, currently on Netflix UK, is light and family-friendly. With appearances by Tablo and Sam Hammington to add to a relatively un-known cast (Lee Re as Ji-So and Choi Min-soo as Dae-po to name a few), How to Steal a Dog feels like a collective contribution. It’s well worth a watch, and will definitely fill some time on a quiet Friday night in.