Im Heung-soon’s “Factory Complex” highlights woman labor from the 60’s until today

The documentary is comprised mostly of women’s testimonies-interviews, as they describe the hardships of their work, from the 60’s until today, in S. Korea and Cambodia.

 

From factory workers to air-hostesses

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The initial statements are quite harsh, as they describe conditions where their bosses actually worked them to death in the factories, without any concern for their health. The documentary then talks about the labor movement, and the imprisonment and even torture these women had to endure in order to achieve human working conditions.

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The focus is then turned onto the big corporations, mostly Samsung, a company that S. Koreans used to consider as the best place to work. However, through testimonies that reer to poisoning from chemicals in the line of work, that even led to cancer, it becomes evident that the conditions are not better, even there.

Then, the setting changes, as workers in Cambodia speak about their awful working conditions and their meager pay ($110 a month). Lastly, it records statements about the hardships of women working in contemporary sectors, in call centers and as air-hostesses.

 

A clear point

The point Im Heung-soon wants to make is quite clear. The working conditions of women have improved much, through hard fights and sacrifices, but there is still room for much improvement. The documentary takes a clear stance against large and multinational corporations, as it also highlights the fact that there are still places in the world, where working conditions are inhuman.

 

Too much artistry

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Im Heung-soon (director, screenwriter and director of photography) succeeded in highlighting his theme, but I felt that the documentary had too much “cinema” in it. In that fashion, there is some dramatization, and many artistic images and shots of various places, like one showing scores of crows standing on electrical cables. These elements have nothing to do with the actual theme, and actually stretch the feature to more than 90 minutes, with no apparent reason. Perhaps the documentarian wanted to give some relief from the continuous statements, and I have to admit that most of these sequences are quite beautiful.

 

“Factory Complex” is an interesting documentary, which could have a larger impact if it was less cinematic.

“Factory Complex” screened during the London Korean Film Festival