The Fetishization of Violence in The Breaker

Posted by

“The Breaker,” a prominent South Korean manhwa created by Jeon Geuk-jin and illustrated by Park Jin-hwan, is recognized for its intense martial arts sequences and deep narrative. While it’s celebrated for its artistry and storytelling, “The Breaker” also presents an opportunity to discuss a more critical aspect of its narrative and genre – the fetishization of violence.

The Glorification of Martial Arts and Combat

At its core, “The Breaker” revolves around martial arts, a theme often romanticized in various forms of media. The manhwa portrays martial arts not just as a form of self-defense or physical discipline, but also as a path to power and respect. In this narrative, combat skills are often the primary means by which characters assert their dominance, resolve conflicts, and achieve their goals. This portrayal can inadvertently glamorize violence, presenting it as an attractive and desirable means of solving problems and proving one’s worth.

Graphic and Aestheticized Violence

“The Breaker” is known for its detailed and dynamic combat scenes. The meticulous artwork in these scenes often turns violent encounters into spectacles. This aestheticization of violence can be seen as a form of fetishization, where the act of violence becomes a visual and emotional high point in the narrative. Such portrayals can desensitize readers to the real-world implications and consequences of violence.

Impact on Character Development and Relationships

In “The Breaker,” character growth and development are closely tied to martial prowess and the ability to engage in violence. The main character, Shi-Woon Yi, evolves from a bullied student into a formidable martial artist, and this transformation is largely achieved through his increasing capacity for violence. This narrative arc can subtly imply that violence is an effective and even necessary tool for personal growth and social standing, overshadowing other qualities like empathy, intelligence, and moral judgment.

Moreover, relationships and hierarchies within the manhwa are often established and maintained through violent encounters. Respect and authority are frequently gained through combat victories, reinforcing the idea that violence is a legitimate way to gain power and influence over others.

Contrasting Perspectives and Redemption

However, it’s important to note that “The Breaker” does offer contrasting perspectives on violence. The manhwa also delves into the psychological and emotional toll of living a life dominated by combat and aggression. Characters are shown grappling with the consequences of their violent actions, providing a more balanced view that acknowledges both the allure and the cost of such a lifestyle.

The theme of redemption is also present, suggesting that characters can evolve beyond a purely violent existence. This offers a counterpoint to the fetishization of violence, suggesting a path towards resolution and peace that doesn’t rely solely on martial prowess.


While “The Breaker” is a compelling and artistically impressive manhwa, its portrayal of violence raises important considerations. The fetishization of violence, seen through the glorification of martial arts and the aestheticized depiction of combat, is a significant aspect of its narrative. While this may enhance the dramatic and visual appeal of the story, it also presents a skewed perspective on the role of violence in conflict resolution and personal development.

The manhwa does, however, offer moments of reflection on the impact of violence, providing a more nuanced view that adds depth to its narrative. As with many works in the action and martial arts genres, “The Breaker” occupies a complex space where entertainment, art, and the portrayal of violence intersect, inviting readers to engage with both its narrative thrills and its deeper thematic implications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *