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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Awl" Episode 6

2015/11/08

It turns out that Go-sin is all right after all, and starts the episode off with another elucidating metaphorical speech on worker's rights. This time he posits that the modern workplace is in itself an attack on a person's humanity. It's an interesting concept actually. You don't have to go too far to find articles, especially South Korean articles, that discuss work-related depression. I've suffered from that myself in fact. There's little room in conformist systems for acknowledging individuality, even as some cultures laud that as a virtue.

As is usually the case for "Awl", context is everything. I was initially confused about why the whole flashback label scam was such a big deal, and sure enough, that situation is resolved with exactly the kind of creative thinking I'd expect to see in the American corporate world. Let's not kid ourselves. Systems in France, South Korea, and the United States have more similarities than differences, because they're all capitalist systems. Saying "our cultures are different" in that context is just a half-baked excuse.

It's also a classic stupid argument which for some reason is still considered incredible. How dare you exercise the rights we gave you when other people don't give you those rights. What's the point of having rights if actually using them is considered rude? And hey, wait a minute, I thought we were endowed with these rights by the Creator, so why are we acting like this is a luxury granted to us by corporate and government overlords?

The answer is none-of-the-above, by the way. These rights came into existence with the labor movement, and that's the story "Awl" has always been focused on telling. Although the character moments here are certainly cute. The election near the beginning, for example, has a pretty patently predictable outcome. Soo-in might be the main character who's doing all the work, but he still doesn't have much in the way of social skills.

And I also like So-jin appears to not have been a love interest for anyone after all. She just uses her powers of flirting to assist with the labor movement. This is ridiculous and also borderline sexist, given how the main thing we see her do is give everybody coffee. But then, let's not pretend like So-jin could just pull herself up by her bootstraps and grab herself a high-powered career woman job. A major of "Awl" is that these kinds of unrealistic fantasies are just that- unrealistic fantasies perpetuated by a capitalist system that gives the minimum legally required amount of hope.

Review by William Schwartz

"Awl" is directed by Kim Seok-yoon, written by Kim Su-jin and Lee Nam-gyoo and features Ji Hyun-woo, Ahn Nae-sang, Kim Ga-eun, Park Si-hwan, Hyun Woo and Baek Hyun-joo.

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