Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Miner's Woe

Black Republic (1990) - Park
Kim (Hong Sang-soo regular Mun Seong-gun)arrives in a small, dying mining town in the midst of nationwide labor protests. He is an educated labor organizer from Seoul, wanted by the police for his activities, trying to lay low. The mining companies are shuttering its doors due to strikes and low employment and Kim can't get a job without proper identification. He finally gets hired by a small coal Briquette manufacturing company. It's a dirty, back breaking work. The company owner's spoiled, loan sharking son (Park Joong-hoon) somehow takes a liking to Kim (possibly because they are around the same age, and Kim looks like a learned man unlike dirty faced country hicks around him?). Song (homey Shim Hye-jin), one of his girls at the cafe (mostly pay-dates,just above being downright prostitutes), takes a shine on Kim. She wants to escape the small town and be free.

Park Kwang-su's social realist melodrama has well drawn characters and brings out sympathy for down and out 'ordinary people'. The Korean title roughly translates to 'They are Like Us'. By that, what Park means to say is that these small town people are like us- they go through life's hardships, fall in love, rage against injustice, get jealous, etc. I liked it.

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