Existence is a Location: “The Others” in the Form of Conceptual Metaphor





otherness, conceptual metaphor, multimodal metaphor, precarious existence, housing instability


The need for a safe, stable, and suitable place of residence is fundamental for human beings. Nevertheless, having such a place, particularly in a city, remains unattainable for too many people. This study aims to examine how “the others” are metaphorically represented in contemporary South Korean films that portray city dwellers struggling to find a place of residence in urban areas and fighting for their existence. The multimodal analysis of conceptual metaphors enabled us to comprehend how the metaphor of EXISTENCE IS A LOCATION emphasized the significance of physical space for one’s being. Furthermore, the vertical movements in visual representations, such as GOOD IS UP, BAD IS DOWN, connect to more abstract meanings of precarious existence, social hierarchy, and otherness.


Bauman, Z. (2008). The individualized society. Cambridge: Polity.

Forceville, C. (2016). Visual and multimodal metaphor in film: Charting the field. In K. Fahlenbrach (Ed.), Embodied metaphors in film, television and video games: Cognitive approaches (pp. 17-32). London Routledge.

Forceville, C. J., (2009). Non-verbal and multimodal metaphor in a cognitive framework: Agendas for research. In C. J. Forceville and E. Urios-Aparisi (Eds.), Multimodal metaphor (pp. 19-44). Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (2003). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226470993.001.0001

Park, M. M. W. (2021). Inclusive otherness of women in the literature of Baek Shin-Ae. In R. Hernández & S. Oliveira Días (Eds.). A las malas: Desobediencia y rebeldía como transgresión femenina en la literatura (pp. 177-186). Granada: Comares.

Plate, S. B. (1999). Introduction: images and imaginings. In S. B. Plate and D. Jasper (Eds.), Imag(in)ing otherness: filmic visions of living together (pp. 3-13). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sachs-Hombach, K., & Jan-Noël, T. (2019). Introduction: multimodal media. Poetics Today, 40(2), 183-187.

Schilperoord, J. (2018). Ways with picture: Visual incongruities and metaphor. In G. Steen (Ed.), Visual metaphor: structure and process (pp. 11-46). John Benjamins Publishing Company. https://doi.org/10.1075/celcr.18.02sch

Sorm, E. (2018). VISMIP: Towards a method for visual metaphor identification. In G. Steen (Ed.), Visual metaphor: structure and process (pp. 47-88). John Benjamins Publishing Company. https://doi.org/10.1075/celcr.18.03sor

Steen, G. J. (Ed.). (2018). Visual metaphor: Structure and process. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. https://doi.org/10.1075/celcr.18

Wildfeuer, J. (2014). Film discourse interpretation: towards a new paradigm for multimodal film analysis. New York: Routledge.


Bong, Joon-Ho. (2019). Parasite. CJ Entertainment & Camera Film.

Kim, Ji-Hoon. (2021). Sinkhole, Showbox.

Kim, Wang-Geol. (2011). The House. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7TAkMxu3cs

Lim, Seung-Hyeun. (2022). Homeless. Tiger Cinema.

Park, Jee-Youn. (2008). The things she can’t avoid in the city. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlgWlsN9tuY




How to Cite

Morgan Mok-Won, P. (2023). Existence is a Location: “The Others” in the Form of Conceptual Metaphor. CINEJ Cinema Journal, 11(2), 498–518. https://doi.org/10.5195/cinej.2023.591