“CART” explores the issues of labor malpractice and solidarity in fighting employee rights
A movie review by Oliver Carnay
In Southern Korean director Boo Ji-Young’s latest feature about labor rights and exploitative practices, her movie deals with social issues still prevalent in remote parts of third world countries. In most of her created short films she has always been interested in the issues related to women and laborers. There is still an urgency to put this issue at the forefront. We still hear this very common issues in the news worldwide.
“CART” is a compelling drama situated in a big Asian supermarket. Different characters were introduced to create a group of employees working in dire conditions, abused by their employer.
There is Dong-jun (Kim Gang-woo), a junior manager who is the only male among the group who later became the group’s Union leader. Sun-hee (Yum Jung-Ah), a mother of two children who works as a cashier and her friend Hae-mee (Moon Jeong-hee), a single mother. Both are friends with Soon-rae (Kim Young-ae) an old lady nearing retirement age. There is Ok-Soon (Hwang Jung-Min) who is the ultra-optimistic union member, and Mi-jin (Chun Woo-Hee) who is still a part-time employee and fears of losing becoming a full-time worker if he joins the Union. Korean -pop idol “D.O.”, in his screen debut plays Tae-young, the son of Sun-hee (Yum Jung-Ah).
When their corporate employer decided to abruptly laid them off and hired part-time workers from a third source company to replace them, they must take stand as it is illegal and unconstitutional. The employees tried to form a strike, only to be dismantled by hired gangsters of their employer. It is an uphill battle and they can only do so much.
The film shies away from the typical too melodramatic type of acting we mostly see in Asian films. Great accomplishment from director having outstanding performances from an ensemble cast, particularly Moon Jeong-Hee and Yum Jung-Ah. At times very touching, especially the part where Tae-young reconciled with his mother, you could not resist being emotional. The last part of the film is very moving but for some reason I find the soundtrack is pushing the audience to be a bit melodramatic -- it’s like forcing you to go out for your tears and be more sympathetic. For some, this might be a tear-jerker movie. In total, I’ve really enjoyed this movie so much.
In recent South Korea’s political discourse, millions of temporary workers still continue to be a part of these issues, including women empowerment and equality where men have mostly allowed to work full-time jobs. These issues constitute other ongoing injustices happening not only in South Korea but in other Third World countries.