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The absurdity of victims being pitted against each other

The absurdity of victims being pitted against each other

Posted May. 19, 2023 08:04,   

Updated May. 19, 2023 08:04


Her husband was burned to death in his company's factory. Overnight, Hye-jeong's (Kim Seon-yeong) world could never go back to the way it was before. She wanted to know how her husband died and if his company was at fault, but the company refused to show her surveillance camera footage and insisted she settle. She held a tent sit-in with the bereaved family of her husband's co-workers for ten days, a month, and a year, but the company wouldn't budge. What struck her more painfully than anything was the resentful looks of the bereaved families of subcontractor employees who protested together. They said, “My child died because your husband, a senior at the prime contractor, failed to manage and supervise properly.”

Hye-jeong, who could not bear it any longer, accepted the price of her husband's life from the company. With the money she bought the "Dream Palace" apartment. However, as rusty water came out of the faucet in the apartment and other apartments were left unsold, Hye-jeong's world turned upside down once again. Hye-jeong put up sales flyers herself in response to the construction company's insistence that they fix rusty water only after the apartments were all sold. Then, Soo-in (Lee Yun-ji), who protested together in the same situation as Hye-jeong, signed a contract for an apartment at a discounted price offered by the construction company. Upon learning of this, the residents blocked Soo-in from moving in, saying, “Are you trying to make the house worth nothing?” and accused Hye-jeong of being involved in the sale at a cut price. The painfully realistic movie "Dream Palace" will be released on May 31.

At a press conference held on the 17th at CGV Yongsan I'Park Mall in Yongsan-gu, Seoul, actress Lee Yoon-ji, who plays Soo-in, said that 'Dream Palace' is "a movie about differences in position." In the movie, they clash sharply side by side even though they protest together, with different positions of a person with either the prime contractor or subcontractor, and with different positions depending on the sale amount even though they are residents of the same apartment. Director Gah Seong-moon said, “Those responsible for social disasters neglect their responsibilities, and victims fight among themselves. Even though the apartments are sold at a discount, the residents do not join forces but rather fight among themselves. These two are separate occasions, but they share the same feature.” He continued, “The gist of the movie is that even though we blame each other and fight, the real villain is somewhere else.”

Although the movie's content is uneasy and inconvenient, it is thanks to Kim Seon-yeong, who plays Hye-jeong, that makes you immerse yourself in the movie. She is well known for her role as Seon-yeong in the series “Reply 1988” (2015), and her acting also shines through in this film. In particular, the brief expression‎ on her face, as she learns how her husband died at the end of the movie is likely to be one of the best scenes in her acting career. She received the Best Actress Award for this film at the 20th Asian Film Festival held in Rome, Italy last month. "The film resonated deeply with her as a reflection of the life of someone who agreed to receive compensation for her husband's life,” Kim Seon-yeong said. "I was delighted to work for the film because it was a movie where actresses in their 40s developed a narrative between two women, not about their love for their children.”

Ji-Sun Choi aurinko@donga.com