Learn the Depressing Vocabulary of '70s Korean Sweatshops
German filmmaker Nils Clauss guides you through the remnants of a factory boom town that peaked in the 80s.
Images courtesy the artist
For a bit of insight into how economic booms and globalization have affected other countries, check out this gorgeous, tragic new documentary about South Korean sweatshops, Bikini Words. Seoul-based German filmmaker Nils Clauss captured the the remnants of a '70s factory town with dramatic cinematography and framed around a lexicon of everyday terms that define life in that place during that time.
"Factory life during the rapid industrialisation of South Korea throughout the 1970s and 1980s meant tight communal living quarters and a drastic shift in cultural norms for the millions of factory workers that fed the country's growth," Clauss tells The Creators Project. "A new vocabulary evolved amongst these workers to put names to the radically new aspects of their urbanized lives."
He chose eight words to represent many aspects of the unique culture that developed at the time, explained by workers from Guro Industrial Complex in Seoul, where he shot the video. From "beehive," describing the tightly-packed living spaces workers were forced to occupy, to "kill heel," the uncomfortable shoes young women wore to go out dancing, each word reveals a unique, usually depressing aspect of the workers' existence.
Clauss contrasts the difficult stories and settings with wonderful cinematography that somehow makes the cramped beehives look aesthetically pleasing, in a wabi sabi sort of way. He has been living in Seoul for years, running his production company CONTENTED, shooting projects like this awesome Lonely C. music video, a documentary about a badass female Korean ice hockey player, and a Universal Everything installation with as trained an eye as he demonstrates in Bikini Words.
Watch Bikini Words below:
See more of Nils Clauss' work on his website.
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