“Attrition” was conceptualized and written with producer Michael Kang. In 2005, we set out to make the film and moved to Bundang-gu, outside Seoul.
On her deathbed, Jin Sook reveals to her 18 year old son Yong Pil the truth about the father he never knew and a crime he committed against her in the wake of a labor strike in Incheon, South Korea, amidst the political turmoil of 1986.
Facing imminent abandonment from his university-bound girlfriend in the wake of his mother’s death, and without prospects of his own, Yong Pil sets himself on the dark path leading to his father, a retired detective running a small cattle farm by the border.
Jin Sook’s side of the story was to be set in 1986, interwoven with her son’s narrative and comprising more than half the film. It depicted her working and dormitory living conditions in industrial Incheon and a relationship she begins with a co-worker and roommate, Shin Ok, who is revealed to be a radical academic researching the labor movement. Inspired by the personal accounts of Dae Woo factory laborers, the 1986/87 sequences so crucial to the scope and meaning of the piece. Jin Sook’s struggles continue through unemployment and single motherhood against the backdrop of Korea’s “economic miracle”.
Research, including interviews with former Dae Woo employees who staged a historic sit in at the same time the story takes place, was conducted with the generous assistance of the Korean Woman’s Workers Association.
Despite the fact that financing never fully came through, I location scouted, storyboarded and cast the entire film and began workshopping it with the actors. Hoping to generate momentum for the work, I shot much of Yong Pil’s story. The project was abandoned, but not before I edited a 45 minute rough cut based on the footage I had shot, from which many of these stills are taken.
Yong Pil is played by Noh Guk Han and his girlfriend Ji Won is played by Kang Jin Ah. The former partner of Yong Pil’s father, who assisted his mother out of guilt and whom Yong Pil tracks down, is played by Kim Yong Hoon.