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On the night of June 30th, 2007, five hundred women workers in the hypermarket chain Homever occupied the counters of Homever World Cup Stadium branch. July 1st, 2007, was the first day that the Non-regular Worker Protection Bill came into effect. The women rage against the company’s cruel contract cancellation and inhuman discrimination. However, what was planned as a two-day store occupation continued to a long strike lasting 510 days.
Weabak (Korean for sleep-out) is a record of the 2007 strike at Homever; the strike was a huge issue in Korea. June 30th, 2007 was the day before the Non-Regular Worker Protection Bill came into effect; in order to avoid the Bill, the company attempted to cancel the contracts of the non-regular workers. In resistance to the company’s actions, nearly five hundred women laborers occupied the Homever Sangam World Cup Stadium branch. The documentary begins by capturing the women laborers lying down between and behind the counters in a long, slow shot. Weabak illustrates the long and difficult struggle that lasted for 510 days. The women’s identities were defined socially and personally as ‘ajumma (Korean for married women),’ but also they were women who were taking on outside part-time work to help support their households. Through their fight, they gradually identify themselves as laborers; they share a heartwarming camaraderie at the site. However, the documentary also captures the moments beneath and between the surface of the struggle, which TV news did not show. The women sleep out for the first time in their lives, they cook and share food, rewrite the lyrics of popular songs, learn the rhythms and dance. Through such scenes, the director reveals that the women laborers have widened their space for struggle into a space of departure from their everyday routine. Contrary to the laborers’ naive prediction at the beginning of their struggle and occupation, their lonely, painful fight continues and turns into a long-term sleep-out. As time passes and their struggle does not end, Weabak also shows the masculine viewpoint which is so deeply rooted in the Progressive Party and labor movement groups. (KWON Eun-sun)
Kim Mi-reKim Mi-re
Born in 1964, director Kim majored German in Hankook University of Foreign Languages. Since her debut, she is continuously viewing the reality of Korea and the problems of history and structure through the laborers. Her works include Always Dream of Tomoorrow (2001), We Are Workers Or Not? (2003), NoGaDa (2005). Her films have been played in numerous film festivals both in and outside Korea, such as the Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival, Berlin Asian Women’s Film Festival, Pusan International Film Festival, Seoul Labor Film and Video Festival, and Seoul Human Rights Film Festival.