Home » A cosmetics store customer asks for a refund… The end of the greatest “truth” of all time

A cosmetics store customer asks for a refund… The end of the greatest “truth” of all time

by Pansy Robbins
If you were to ask me which space I visited the most during my studies, it would be the Central Library. Books were books, but there was a special space on the top floor of this library, a video room where one could watch the world’s most treasured films in one place. This place, which served as a bedroom for high school students, contained quite a few old and rare, hard-to-find materials that so-called movie buffs continued to visit. Thanks to this, the latest films released in Europe and South America are also regularly present in the collection, making it a frequent place for students to watch films even if their pockets are tight.

During my first year of college, I discovered a movie here that I will probably never forget until the day I die. It was by Lars von Trier, a world-famous Danish director. It’s a masterpiece that thrilled moviegoers upon its release, with critics calling it innovative in both form and substance, an incredible work that gave you chills throughout your viewing.

There are many special things about Y, but one of them is its format. The unique staging which transposed the scene of a play to the screen reminded us of the effect that can be obtained when a film, considered more evolved and freer than a play, embraces elements theatrical. Instead of abandoning the natural, the sense of the play was vividly revived by incorporating exaggerated acting on a theatrical setting. Just as the green color of spinach comes to life when boiled in salt water, the theatrical staging method brought out the message.

▲ Immortal woman poster ⓒ Bucheon Labor Film Festival

A stage cinema that recalls

is a work that is reminiscent of . He survives the 87-minute runtime with only a stage space reminiscent of a cosmetics store in a mall. The only thing that receives light in the dark scene is the counter of the cosmetics store, and the only figures that appear are two employees, two customers and the branch manager.

The film begins with experienced Hee-kyung (played by Lee Eum) and newbie Seung-ah (played by Lee Jeong-kyung) getting to work. The staff, with smiles on their faces, prepare to welcome guests, as if they were the happiest people in the world. While they were having a light conversation as always, a phone call came. The voice on the phone is about a refund. When people come to the store complaining that the wrinkles around their eyes have increased after using anti-wrinkle cream, they are talking about offering better service.

From there, the film begins to address the truth about the customers who come to the store and the difficulty of responding to them, the romantic relationship between the employees and the branch manager, and the difficulties of varicose veins, which are not recognized as an industrial problem. accident. It is shocking to see real customers recklessly demanding refunds and pushing employees to their limits, but when we hear the news of the abundance of black consumers in Korean society, we cannot guarantee that there are no people like them among us.

Most Sincere Customers Ever, Store Clerks Fall Apart

Immortal woman always cut

▲ Immortal woman cut again ⓒ Bucheon Labor Film Festival

The behavior of a truthful customer that ends up making an employee kneel in front of him is similar to the behavior of a truthful department store customer that was made public in the national news just a few years ago. This is not just the story of a single person, and the different truths committed by customers in the film dramatically reveal the pain faced by emotional workers who work in Korean society’s services.

The story of Hee-kyung, who has an unsightly scar on her calf, also attracts attention. Maybe it’s because of her job, which requires her to wear high heels and stand at the counter all day serving customers, but she suffers from varicose veins. She is busy with her work and it is difficult to find a hospital, but she was very lucky that day and was able to go to the hospital in the morning after receiving permission from the branch manager (played by Nae-sang Nae-sang).

Seung-ah looks at Hee-kyung and asks if varicose veins developed from work, then it could be an industrial accident. So Hee-kyung responds. I already checked if it was an industrial accident, but it wasn’t. Why not ? The recognition of varicose veins as an occupational accident is still a hot potato in the field. Simply standing and working for a long time does not prove a direct link with the appearance of varicose veins. It can only be recognized if it proves a close correlation between the type of work and the epidemic.

Even with varicose veins, she gave up work accidents… her decision.

Immortal woman always cut

▲ Immortal woman cut again ⓒ Bucheon Labor Film Festival

For example, the first time a nurse in Korea was recognized for varicose veins was in 2004. This is a finding that specifically highlights professional characteristics that can cause varicose veins, such as working on their feet for more than six hours a day on average, wearing heavy clothing such as anti-radiation gowns, and frequently moving heavy surgical instruments.

It took 16 years for the KTX flight attendant’s varicose veins to be recognized as a workplace accident. The problem was that they wore high heels, worked on their feet for an average of 5 hours a day, and often had to rest while standing in a small space.

There are therefore many steps to go through before being recognized as an industrial accident for varicose veins in a specific area. This is why only a very small number of people suffer from varicose veins compared to those who do. Among them, fewer people are recognized as having accidents at work. Most people don’t even think about workplace injuries, or when they do, they think it’s difficult and give up. Indeed, it is difficult to dream of workplace accidents if you simply do a job that requires you to stay on your feet for a long time. Hee-kyung’s response to Seung-ah’s question is along the same lines.

In fact, it’s not just anyone’s story in the film. Diseases such as varicose veins rarely result in workplace accidents, unlike serious accidents in which the body is cut and life is lost. In the documentary, which was also screened at the 10th Bucheon Labor Film Festival and previously featured on “Cine Hooray”, there is the story of a railway worker asking that the injuries he suffered be treated as a accident at work, but which was rejected. He said the company told him that if it admitted the industrial accident its reputation would fall, but it’s hard to believe he was the only one who heard that response. In fact, it’s common to see companies not bothering to handle workplace injuries when it comes to minor accidents. Heekyung’s workplace, which is a small business, is probably not much different from this.

Emotional work, irregular work… The true face of 21st century work

Immortal woman always cut

▲ Immortal woman cut again ⓒ Bucheon Labor Film Festival

Is that just it? Both Hee-kyung and Seung-ah are irregular workers. The reality is that it is difficult for those who work as salespeople in supermarkets to find regular employment, but it is unfortunate that they most often find themselves in situations where they face low wages and security of employment because they are irregular workers. In particular, front-line employees who directly meet customers have only learned the theory of different cosmetics manufacturing processes, but do not understand them properly. This is a side effect that is evident not only in movies but in society as a whole. I think that’s it.

The film exposes various problems that can be easily encountered in the workplace, including workplace accidents, emotional labor, and irregular workers. Among them, there is no shortage of flirtations between superiors and young, pretty employees. The film goes beyond a simple plot and injects subtle tension into the second half of the play through the story of Seung-ah, who is having an affair with the branch manager, and Hee-kyung, who met him one day. The development of this film, in which, after going beyond the truth, a more serious truth emerges, combined with the theatrical format, it reminds us of the absurdity of life.

Director Bong Joon-ho, who can be considered the pioneer of Korean cinema, reportedly saw this film and said that it should be called a new film format called “stage cinema”. Choi Jong-tae, who filmed , is also one of the first members of the “Yellow Gate” club with Bong Joon-ho, who later became legendary among Korean movie fans, so you may find another fun way to enjoy films. This means that through this film we can see what kind of work was ultimately produced by someone who cherished cinema and invested his life in it. So isn’t that work too? It is above all the result of precious work created by getting closer to the dream.

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