Ajummas in Cart strike like Occupy Central protesters [Review]

By Melanie Leung
By Melanie Leung |

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A three-month occupation. Rough police. Masked, violent men. Sound familiar? Korean drama Cart is about a group of women who are laid off by the supermarket they work for to make room for cheaper, part-time workers. 

The film focuses on struggling mother of two, Sun-Hee (Yum Jungah), and her transformation from a loyal employee happy to work overtime for no extra pay, to a key leader of the movement. 

What happens is pretty much like Occupy Central minus the umbrellas and social media. Clearly, director Boo Jiyoung sides with the strikers, but she doesn’t glorify them. They argue, they make mistakes, they point fingers. As they take on the mighty company, their neglected children suffer: Sun-Hee’s son has to find a job to pay for a school trip. 

The film effectively combines multiple storylines to augment the emotional impact. You feel the coldness of the legal system, the indifference of the money-minded businessmen and the grievances of the struggling workers. At the same time, there is remarkable constraint in the storytelling so the film never drags on. 

Ajummas (Korean for middle-aged ladies) are seldom taken seriously, but the film portrays them as strong, fun-loving and determined people. And the best thing about occupying with them? There’s no shortage of good food.