"The Crimson Whale" is a product of the Korean Academy of Film Arts' Advanced Program. The prestigious school sees the worth in encouraging South Korea's potential-packed animation industry.
The story takes place in 2070, where constant earthquakes and volcanic activity shutter the Earth, with the Korean peninsula being the one that has been hit the most. In the dystopian setting of an almost completely destroyed Busan, Ha-jin, an orphan girl, tries to survive by stealing and selling drugs. Eventually, her crimes lead her to prison, since the police seems to be the only institution still functioning. However, corruption is at large and soon Ha-jin finds herself in the hands of human traffickers. As she tries to escape, a one-armed woman named Baek Sang-won rescues her, who proves to be the leader of a band of pirates. Their goal is to reach some precious crystals in a volcanic island, which is defended though, by a legendary volcano whale. Baek seems to know Ha-jin's secret, that she can actually communicate and summon whales, and needs her for her plans. The girl is initially reluctant, but as she meets the members of the crew, she starts to make friends among them, and eventually becomes a member of their " family ", additionally agreeing to help them in their goal.