Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: Cart - Korean drama with parallels to Occupy protest in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 May, 2015, 11:06am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 May, 2015, 5:30pm

Yum Jung-ah, Moon Jung-hee, Kim Young-ae
Director: Boo Ji-young
Category: IIA (Korean)

Before the "umbrella movement" spawns its own film, Hongkongers could at least relive the spirit through this unrelated labour-rights drama. Cart is set around a South Korean retail chain store whose management habitually forces extended shifts on its staff and, on occasion, makes them kneel to customers.

That is, until they're suddenly laid off. To counter the company's refusal to negotiate, these temporary employees hesitantly set up a trade union, led by a trio of middle-aged women who must juggle family duties with their collective quest for justice.

As their demands for reinstatement repeatedly fall on deaf ears, the workers will go on strike, occupy the supermarket premises and, after being removed by force, stage months-long outdoor protests in a small village of tents. When they are not put in police custody, they're being attacked by unidentified thugs. Sound familiar?

Despite its run-of-the-mill characterisation, this second feature by director Boo Ji-young largely engages with its sincere attempt at social critique. With inadvertent parallels to the happenings during last year's Occupy movement, the film may also feel closer to Hongkongers than was intended.

By following subservient individuals who rise up to stand against those in power, Cart may well have arrived at some universal truth with its cogent look at how grass roots demonstrations take shape, fend off attacks and fade out in honour.

Cart opens on May 14