15 June 2021

K Movie Review: Samjin Company English Class (2020)

Oppa's the one in-charge of researching about good K movies to watch. He's been intrigued about Samjin Company English Class because of its unique plot. And while he admitted that he might have misunderstood the plot, we still enjoyed it nonetheless. 

Plot


Samjin Company English Class is about a group of female support staff working for Samjin Company in 1995. Apart from their jobs, these ladies are also taking up English classes with the goal of passing the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC). In the course of their often dreary and repetitive jobs, our three female leads, Lee Ja Young (Ko Ah Sung), Jung Yoo Na (Esom), and Sim Bo Ram (Park Hye Soo), discover a toxic chemical leak scandal that the company was covering up. As the three dig deeper into the matter, they also find out that the company's supposed global partner was actually planning to sell Samjin. The movie shows us how the three, with the help of their other support staff friends and colleagues, save the company and force its owners to do right by their victims. 

Cast

It's our first time to watch all of the main leads. We're probably most familiar with Esom because we sometimes catch Because This is My First Life on tvN. She was great as the group's angsty and pessimistic leader. Her transformation to a '90s girl was amazing. I knew she was familiar but I had to research because she looked quite different from her usual appearance. 

Ko Ah Sung was also perfect as the helpful Lee Ja Young. She seemed quiet and submissive but her conscience won't allow her to turn a blind eye on things. Among the three, she's probably the most important character because she was the one who discovered the phenol leak and reported it to her superiors. And she never gave up until they got to the bottom of things. 

The very cute Park Hye Soo was a great fit for the young-looking Sim Bo Ram. She's a Math whiz, who unfortunately is stuck doing magic on office receipts. I couldn't agree more when she said that people always dismissed her because she looked so young. She really looked very young. But despite that, she was instrumental in helping solve the problem with her mathematical talent. 

Although we were newbies with the female leads, there were some familiar faces here. Like Cho Hyun Chul (Hotel del Luna) who was Ja Young's teammate and one of those who backed up the girls in the end. 

We also have Kim Jong Soo (Extreme Job, 1987: When the Day Comes, Vagabond, and The Producers) as Bo Ram's superior who saved the girls from being fired when they were first identified as whistleblowers. Bae Hae Sun (Hotel del Luna and Start-Up) was Yoo Na's boss. Kim Won Hae (Start-Up, Hotel del Luna, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, and Reply 1994) was Jae Young's boss who helped cover up the crime. 

Even the villain, CEO Billy Park, was a familiar face (David McInnis of Descendants of the Sun). 

While no one really stood out apart from the three female leads, all the other actors were not bad. After watching a number of Korean films, I would have to say that Koreans are good in casting movie actors. I can't recall seeing anyone do a bad job on a movie. 

Execution

Oppa complained that the movie started out slow. I guess it didn't help that we expected the focus to be on the English class. And we soon realized that that was not really the case. The English class was instrumental in solving the problem towards the end. But most part of the movie focused more on their being employees of Samjin Company. 

Another trouble we had with the film was the lack of subtitles for the English dialogues. Since ours ears are not trained to listen to Konglish, we had a hard time understanding some of the stuff that they said. I hope we didn't miss anything significant because of that. 

Despite those minor obstacles, I found myself enjoying the film because I liked most of the themes they presented. I loved how girl power was all over the film. Yes, it was heartbreaking to see women who were not highly-educated (they were commercial high school graduates) being treated like slaves or second-class citizens. They had to wear uniforms. They had to prepare coffee for their colleagues, buy them cigarettes, etc. Yet, these other employees were so dependent on these support staff. And in the end, the very same people the company discriminated against were the ones who helped them keep their company and jobs. I always love feisty female leads. And it feels even more special when it's set during a time when such display of girl power was not yet widely accepted. 

I also liked how these women persisted. They studied English for different reasons. But most of them probably looked at it as a means to get better jobs or promotions. Although some of them found joy in their jobs, they were not really contented and they strived hard to live better lives. 

I also liked how the film touched on corporate life. Like how most employees devote their entire life to being corporate slaves that they even go to the point of selling their souls to the devil just to prove their loyalty to the company. In the end, however, the company won't even care if you get sick or get into trouble because of them. And by then, it would be too late for you to realize that you wasted your life and you missed on other more important things for nothing. 

And then there are those employees who truly believe that their companies are out to do good things. As Ja Young put it, she believed her company made things that enriched people's lives. And how demoralizing it was for her to find out that her company actually endangered the lives of others. 

Although I'm not a business person, I also liked how the film talked about the corporate aspect of globalization. Sure, it brings lots of benefits like transfer of knowledge, expansion, etc. But there's also a bad side to it. Like when big companies prey on smaller companies like Samjin. It's disgusting how some of these predators would do anything, including killing people, just to achieve their purpose. 

I liked the film's message about balancing your loyalty to your company and your bigger social responsibility to the public. Sure, it's nice to work for a big corporation. And we should serve our employers to the best of our abilities. But never to the point of sacrificing our morals by covering up their illegal activities and practices. 

Oppa says...4.5.

Noona says...4.5.

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