Taking a tour around Korea’s public infrastructure, director Kim Jeong-keun beautifully frames the iron temples which keep our cities running. Seeing the artistry in the everyday lives of public workers, the film gives a lot of time to what many would consider unskilled work. Looking at both those in technical college and people who have been working for years, Underground paints a portrait of the hidden public workers from cleaners to train controllers. Despite the industry becoming more reliant on automated and temporary workers, those that devote themselves to their labour become skilled and fulfilled in their work. Underground highlights the industrial action from the workers union around the conditions of low pay and poor job security showcasing the artistry and passion in their work as they call for better working conditions. Underground gives cinematic space to previously unseen acts, a humanising of public workers beautifully shot with a strong message.
This screening will be followed by discussion with the curators of the season, the students of Birkbeck University, Film Programming & Curating MA.