South Korean director Gooc-jin Ahn dives into the murky world of online manipulation with his gripping thriller “Troll Factory.” The film exposes the chilling tactics giant organizations use to sway public opinion for their own gain. While comparisons might be drawn to Drishyam 2’s twist, “Troll Factory” is a different beast altogether. Ahn crafts a near-flawless narrative, a rollercoaster ride with a plot twist that lands like a chef’s signature dish. The story is relentlessly captivating, with constant twists and turns that keep you glued to the screen. The timeline jumps are seamless, but one wrong glance and you might miss a crucial detail. This is a film that demands your full attention, rewarding viewers with a thought-provoking exploration of the dark side of the digital age. Buckle up for a must-watch experience, especially if Korean thrillers are your cup of tea.

Spoilers Ahead

Troll Factory (2024) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

The film starts with Sang-jin, a journalist, going through some random old articles where he finds out about a person named Daevil, who protests against the idea of making the internet monetized by some corporation named Manjun. The protest at first started with a small group of people. Back then, the internet was not such a vast thing that a campaign could grow into a huge deal. Anyway, the protest didn’t amount to anything, and Manjun successfully takes control of the market. Now, the internet is being monetized around the nation.

More than 20 years later, a middle school boy starts the same campaign against Manjun. This time against corruption and bureaucracy. But, now, with the help of the internet, the campaign is so big that the higher officials of Manjun are pushed to the point of leaving their posts. The whole country undergoes a change because the company never read the public opinion carefully. Sang-jin notes down everything because he, too, wants revenge on Manjun for a particular reason.

Did the CEO Get Duped by Fake Evidence?

We then look to the timeline when Sang-jin is called by Woosung’s CEO, who complains about some suspicious men who jammed his signal so that he never gets the contract he wishes for. However, the picture he shows where these men are seen does not prove anything, so Sang-jin tries to ignore him as calmly as possible. But, right when the CEO mentions that Manjun is behind this, Sang-jin’s interest peaks as he starts discussing the story with his senior editors. When he gets a green signal from one of the editors, Sang-jin starts gathering evidence, and finally, the news is all set to publish.

The main accusation is that Manjun sends a couple of men to tamper with Woosung’s newly launched car’s performance result so that Manjun gets the contract. Woosung’s CEO is now left with a huge debt and all he has is this one picture which he thinks can give him justice once published. Unfortunately, the editor pushes the story aside to cover the story of a celebrity accused of doing drugs. Moreover, the editors show Sang-jin some different pictures that suggest those suspicious men are not involved in all of this. Sang-jin realizes that Manjun has placed fake evidence and he can not fight with his corporation about this.

Can Disgraced Reporter Find Redemption with a Mysterious Source?

He tries to confirm whether the whole news is fake or not with Woosung’s CEO, but sadly, he is dead now. The news tweaks his death into suicide and connects it with Sang-jin, saying that since Sang-jin has written fake news, the suicide has happened. Sang-jin does not know what to do when a senior editor suggests he take a leave for a few months and prepare a follow-up. This time, he needs to make sure that there is no loophole in the story. Sang-jin makes this his mission as he starts gathering evidence against Manjun from that day onward.

Troll Factory (2024) Movie Ending Explained
A still from “Troll Factory” (2024)

After almost 14 months from the events, Sang-jin again visits his old office for a job. But since there is a new editor-in-chief, he does not get the job. Sang-jin starts applying on random portals, although his resume keeps getting rejected. One day, he scrolls through his facebook messages and finds a suspicious account that has shared some valuable insights about Manjun’s corruption. Later, Sang-jin goes to meet the person, who obviously has used a fake profile picture and a fake name during the meeting. The man introduces himself as ChatTatKat and he tells Sang-jin that his article was not all a lie or conspiracy.

How a Cigarette Ad Campaign Launched a Fake News Empire!

He then tells him about his friends Jjingppeotking and Paeptaek, who came up with this bizarre idea of making money. Mostly it is Jjingppeotking who comes up with this brilliant idea of marketing for a cigarette company. Cigarette companies are not allowed to advertise their product. Therefore, Jjingppeotking pays for a picture of a model who uses a cigarette, and that pack of cigarettes is in the frame. Later, ChatTatKat gives it a caption that makes the model look like a billion-dollar woman to other people. After that, Paeptaek posts the picture to every forum he knows so that the picture reaches more people.

A couple of hours later, the picture itself becomes an advertisement for the cigarette because people start talking about everything they see in the frame, from the handbag to the cigarette packet. Jjingppeotking goes to the cigarette company with the data. They pay him more than what he hoped for. This attracts so much attention soon that a failed producer talks to them to make his film work despite the fact that his film is low-budget, worthless and there is a huge release ongoing. But, the team comes up with a brilliant idea, putting a fake rumor out about a spot boy who did not get paid by the giant production house.

Did The Duo Cross a Line to Get Ahead?

Soon, the producer with the low-budget film starts to get an unexpected amount of attention. But, knowing that they have lied about the spot boy incident, the producer refuses to pay them because he does not want to get mixed up in this illegal thing. Right after that, Jjingppeotking is picked up by some guys who look like federal agents. Later, he meets with a certain person, who gives them a task to complete. It is sort of a test that will define their future. By the way, this guy, for the first time, actually appreciates their talents, which gives the team an extra amount of motivation.

The guy gives them a job to stop a man from protesting against the defamation law. Jjingppeotking and Paeptaek choose the man’s daughter to get to him. They create numerous fake accounts and start following, liking, and commenting on her posts. She starts liking the attention and soon Paeptaek posts one of her pictures in an adult forum. Jjingppeotking asks him if perhaps they are going extreme with this. However, Paeptaek says since the woman loves attention, she will eventually file a defamation case against the fake profiles. Perhaps, this eventually will force his father to remove his protest against the defamation law.

Will He Turn into a Whistleblower and Expose a Corporate Giant’s Dark Secret?

Things take a bizarre turn when the young girl kills herself because of all the leaked images of her. Her father eventually stops his protest, and the team succeeds once again. But, this leaves a deep scar inside each one of them as Jjingppeotking blames Paeptaek that he has told him hundreds of times that they should stop forcing this thing. However, the guy finally congratulates Jjingppeotking on a job well done and introduces himself as a Manjun employee. Manjun has come up with a new branch right after the collapse (caused by the middle schooler earlier), and this branch is dedicated to manipulating public opinion to get what it wants.

Jjingppeotking decides to remove himself from the team even after the Manjun guy offers them a permanent position. However, before doing it, he posted their whole work plan and how they were responsible for the girl’s suicide. Jjingppeotking is kidnapped by some people as Paeptaek and ChatTatKat realize they need to hide themselves because their identity is now online. When people learn that they have been fooled, the wrath will fall upon them. This is the time when they thought of going against Manjun and came across Sang-jin. ChatTatKat feels like Sang-jin can help them to be heard by the people since he is an experienced reporter and he is also wronged by Manjun.

Troll Factory (2024) Movie Ending Explained:

Is Sang-jin Able to Publish His Article Accusing Manjun?

Troll Factory (2024) Movie Ending Explained
Another still from “Troll Factory” (2024)

With ChatTatKat’s help, Sang-jin is finally able to come up with a new angle that Manjun has its own branch that manipulates people’s opinions. An accusation like this, that too against one of the largest, if not the largest, corporations in the country, requires strong facts. Sang-jin is precisely collecting and gathering all the crucial evidence. Soon, he hears that his story is going to be published. He has shown a gist of it previously, but the editor then rejected the story at that time.

Sang-jin tells the editor that they are rushing it as he needs to verify every piece of evidence himself. But the editor can not delay further because people already know bits and pieces about Manjun, who has manipulated public opinion. So, the article is published, and Sang-jin calls ChatTatKat before this. He gives him an online forum where, under this AYBABTU name, he can get all the details of their chat with the Manjun guy. Right after the article is published, Sang-jin fails to connect with ChatTatKat.

What does Sang-jin Learn after the Publication of the Article?

When ChatTatKat is unreachable, Sang-jin goes to the forum, searches for AYBABTU, and finds a novel. He opens it and finds out that the whole thing started with Sang-jin getting text messages on Facebook from ChatTatKat to Manjun having a public opinion manipulation group written there, including the conversations that took place between Sang-jin and ChatTatKat. The editor then calls Sang-jin and says that someone named AYBABTU has accused Sang-jin of plagiarizing the idea of his novel. Sang-jin fails to prove that this is all a lie because the publication date of the novel is before the article.

The media house is planning out how to work things from here on when Sang-jin completely loses it, blaming them that they are also involved with Manjun in this. Sang-jin lives the same horror of fake news accusations all over again. He decides to move on from all of this and again starts finding the clues that ChatTatKat must have left somewhere during the conversation. Subsequently, Sang-jin focuses on the name AYBABTU, which leads him to a whistleblower who does not help him much with his intel. He realizes that he is the guy who used to go by the name of Jjingppeotking, and there was no Paeptaek ever. It was always ChatTatKat and his call because they were the team.

Read More: 5 Korean Dramas Releasing in June 2024

At the end of the film, we see that Sang-jin takes the same approach of publishing his side of the story in different forums. He now realizes that if people are naming his news a conspiracy theory, then he should take advantage of that, too. Along the way, he has learned that truth mixed with lies is truer than the truth itself. So, he wants more people to know that Manjun has lied. Sang-jin does not know what is truth or a lie anymore. All he wants now is to let the people know that something bad is happening and that only people can stop it. Before the film fades to the black screen, we see Sang-jin’s article, which contains dark secrets about Manjun and is being read by millions of people.

Trailer:

Troll Factory (2024) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
The Cast of Troll Factory (2024) Movie: Son Suk-ku, Kim Sung-cheol, Kim Dong-hwi, Hong Kyung
Troll Factory (2024) Movie Genre: Crime/Drama | Runtime: 1h 49m
Where to watch Troll Factory

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