The Night Before the Strike, dir. Chang Younhyun, 1990, 113 min., Korean with English subtitles
Banned upon its release in 1990 and now digitally restored, Chang Younhyun’s The Night Before the Strike depicts the struggles of factory workers against their hostile employers.
Produced by Korean film collective Jangsangotmae – established in 1987 in support of progressive social movements – the film found immense popularity through unofficial screenings, ironically becoming one of the most-viewed independent Korean films of the time.
Unfolding during the post-Olympic Korean economic boom of the late 1980s, the film follows workers at the Dongseong Metal Engineering factory, who work day and night to meet demand. Fighting against low pay and hostile treatment, the film’s main characters – the core group of workers at the forge welding department – share their sorrows and maintain their solidarity. The group attempt to form a trade union, though, in the process, a conflict arises, triggered by those who are afraid of potential consequences. To break their spirit, the company managers use devious tactics, recruiting a goosadae (‘company-saver’) to spy, blacklist and intimidate the would-be union members.
Originally shot on 16mm, The Night Before the Strike was restored in 4K by the Korean film Archive for official theatrical release in 2019.
This screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Chang Younhyun, moderated by Lucy Parker, filmmaker and joint course leader of BA Filmmaking at Kingston University.
Chang Younhyun was born in 1967. He studied film producing at the Hungarian National Film School. Upon returning to Korea, he began to produce historical and ideological independent films. He worked with the independent group Jangsangotmae on two political films: Oh, Dream Nation (1988) and The Night Before the Strike (1990). Chang’s debut feature, The Contact, was the top-grossing film of 1997 in Korea and premiered internationally in the Forum at Berlin Film Festival.
Lucy Parker is a filmmaker and joint course leader of BA Filmmaking at Kingston University. Her work has been distributed by LUX and shown at Images Festival, Toronto; Anthology Film Archive, New York; and with the Independent Cinema Office. Her latest project, Solidarity, is a rigorous, impassioned investigation into the long-lasting impact of blacklisting in the UK construction industry.