로고

EN
Close
[Film Review] LEE Taegyeom's 'I Don't Fire Myself'
2021-03-03 10:36:00Hits 206
22st JEONJU International Film Festival (2021)
I Don't Fire Myself

2021-03-02

💑Because the gift Jeongeun gave was beautiful and bright
[Film Review] LEE Taegyeom's 'I Don't Fire Myself'

Hi there, 

Among last year's JEONJU IFF lineup, I Don’t Fire Myself  (the previous title was Dispatch; I Don't Fire Myself) has been said that the film echoes across many people of this time. The main character Jeong-eun played by YOO Dain resonates while OH Jung-se who played Makne won the Best Acting Prize at the 21st JEONJU IFF. We received a beautiful review of this film and would like to share it with you. 
'I Don't Fire Myself' 
👫 Review by Heejeong, a laborer who records

Being fired means “I” would disappear

Do you think it’s an overstatement?

When I ask those who refuse to get fired and are fighting against their company, they tell me it’s because they feel they have been wronged. What made them feel this way? They’re upset that the “me” who existed all this time will disappear. The sincere, hardworking, innocent me who trusted in my colleagues and believe that I had a communal fate as the company. Once they’re pressured to get fired or resign, the “me” who has been living that way starts to disappear. 

“All I did was work hard, so why must I be treated this way?” 

 Regardless of the position, age, and gender, this is the complaint they have. No company will fire you saying that you’re being laid off because you’re too good for the position. The moment you’re given the dismissal notice, the company must turn you into someone who deserves to be fired so they could justify erasing your existence (or your right to live). 

“So that’s why they were fired.” 

 Anything can become that reason for dismissal. Maybe you lack confidence or you’re too aggressive. You’re too indecisive or too stubborn. You’re lazy or you’re an inflexible workaholic. Maybe you keep to yourself too much, or you’re too nosy. 

If you leave quietly, maybe they won’t gossip about you more than a couple of times. But the more you hold out and stay, you’ll continuously realize why you’re someone who deserves to get fired. The things that kept you who you are will start to crack. 

When a company closes down (due to bankruptcy), they’re not sorry. Instead, the employees believe it was their fault.” 

This is what someone said after suffering from blaming oneself after their company shut down. It’s the same with being let go. The company isn’t sorry, but the one who gets fired looks back on themselves to see what they’ve done wrong. They question their value. When one overcomes such doubts, stops blaming themselves, and starts to speak up to say they don’t deserve to be fired in such a way is when the fight starts. 

💛I Don't Fire Myself Trailer 💛

Our livelihood

Just like Jeongeun (YOO Dain) in Dispatch; I Don’t Fire Myself, the moment you announce you won’t leave, the company will put together a disciplinary committee. They’ll start spreading groundless rumors and sit you down on an empty desk. Whether it’s a field job or a dispatched position, they’ll transfer you. One’s company is the only entity that can give someone such a punishment on a daily basis in the current society. There is only one reason why they can do this, and it’s because they hold authority over our livelihoods. 

In the movie, the metal wires that keep the subcontractors hanging on the transmission towers look dangerous, but that wire is also Jeongeun and the subcontractors’ source of livelihood. They hang by the wire so they can put food on the table. To say that “I will regain myself” to the company is like pulling that wire tightly. One must understand the risk that the wire could break at any moment. You must hold the wire tightly to keep it steady, but that could end up making the wire break. Many are unable to withstand this contradiction and end up letting their hands go. 

There are people I know who have been fired three times. Just because they pulled on the wire (they were engaged in labor union activities), they were fired multiple times. 

They asked,

“What kind of company fires you three times?” 
So I said,
“Who would return to the same company three times?” 

Most people give up and leave when they first get laid off. Just like in the movie, it’ll become the norm to experience nonchalant attitudes like that of the Ministry of Employment and Labor employee (in other words, they don’t care about your problem), and that is what it’s like to fight against your dismissal. That’s why people can’t hang on. Despite all that, some people choose to fight this battle they have no chance of winning.  


We fought well, didn’t we? 

The fight is painful to watch. Whenever Jeongeun stops by the convenience store to buy soju, I wish I could buy her some food to go along with it. If she had been my sister, I might have made a trip to that seaside village and dragged her out of there. I’d tell her to leave such a company that no longer wants her. I would’ve said that despite knowing the reason why she can’t leave. But in reality, I don’t tell the people who are fighting to stop, and it’s not because I don’t care.

It’s because I know why they’re fighting. 

It’s my job to meet these people and ask them why they’re fighting. I then record their answers. I’m not asking because I don’t know the true reason why they’re fighting. But by recording their reasons, I want to be a part of proving their existence which they’re trying so hard to protect. I want to support them when they say “I’m not someone like that.” That is why I’m writing about the way society’s structure works to forcefully categorizing someone as a specific type of person, as well as the greed of corporations. 

At the same time, I watch their battles with hope. The people who fight because they don’t want to lose themselves will never disappear even if they lose the fight and get fired. This is because they’re able to build who “I” am through the process of fighting. 

There are people who have fought for a year on the streets against a company's planned closure. The world didn’t care about the labor of middle-aged and elderly women. It wasn’t a big deal when they were laid off. These women were frustrated by the society that didn’t find their work important. In the end, they had to end the fight after getting an unreliable promise of receiving job placements. But even while they were standing on top of hopelessness, they said, “We fought well, didn’t we?” When I told them I’m in the middle of writing a book*, they asked me to write about them to encourage others to fight as well. 

 By the end of the fight, one becomes someone who can say such a thing. They fought to protect themselves, but they turned into people who look after others. One’s existence cannot disappear as long as one has relationships. Now “I” am someone who can’t be trampled on, easily evaluated, or judged. They can now say, “We fought well, didn’t we?” to a colleague. In the film, Jeongeun announces that she won’t fire herself. Even now, there are many Jeongeuns everywhere who are telling themselves that they fought a good fight. It’s a declaration that no one can harm their existence. As long as one does this, they will not disappear. 
*My Work Disappeared (2020, Fascicles) A record of women who fought against closures and layoffs. 


You have to claim the right to live 

But in the movie, there are no “colleagues”. This is also the reason why we look forward to Jeongeun’s next moves. Jeongeun is unable to become true colleagues with any of the subcontractors. The rookie member out of the subcontractors played by OH Jungse says this. 

“Once you get up there (transmission tower), all you have are your colleagues (to trust).” 

But Jeongeun has never climbed up with them. She has also never entrusted others with her life or her livelihood. She also has no experience protecting her(their) source of income with others before. When Jeongeun gets knocked over by an employee from the head office, no subcontractor helps her up. They weren’t “colleagues” yet. 

The film isn’t hasty to build relationships. Instead, it talks about how we’re all equal. Jeongeun is someone who’s struggling to keep food on her table, and in the process, she sees the tables of others. This is when she realizes something very apparent. If my work is important to me, it is important to others too. You can’t differentiate one another because they’re the contractor or the subcontractor. Also, you can’t justify stealing someone else’s livelihood in the name of capability (defined by society). 

I once met a college cleaner before. He defined himself as someone at the very bottom of the school. The cleaners thought of themselves as the people at the very lowest of that college. But when he was the first to be fired for being vulnerable, he gave his advice to the world. 

“I might have learned less than them, but we all have dignity. 
They’re getting paid to work, and I’m getting paid to work too. 
We’re all the same. They eat, and I eat to live too. 
Just because we’re lower in social status does not mean we don’t eat. 
One should be able to claim the right to live.” 

No source of income deserves to be cut off before another. No person will be okay when their existence gets erased.  

The relationship between Jeongeun and the rookie subcontractor begins with the realization that we all eat three meals a day. That’s why at the end of the movie, Jeongeun, who has never had a colleague, gives her last gift to the person who was also hanging desperately onto the same source of income. Because that gift is so beautiful and bright, we look forward to the moment when Jeongeun will be able to say, “We fought well, didn’t we?” to her colleagues.
Heejeong (A laborer who records) Recording fighting, bearing, and living. She wrote Labors, Collapsed, Queers Are Working Next To You, Here, Us, Together and co-wrote Company Disappeared, Living in Miryang, Unrecorded Labor, and more.

eng.jeonjufest.kr
Jeonju Office (54999) 2F, JEONJU Cine Complex, 22, Jeonjugaeksa 3-gil, 
Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do, Republic of Korea   
T. (063)288-5433 F. (063)288-5411
 ⓒ 2021 JEONJU Intl. Film Festival. All rights reserved.
Sponsor
Jeonju Office

(54999) 2F, JEONJU Cine Complex, 22, Jeonjugaeksa 3-gil, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do, Republic of Korea T. +82 (0)63 288 5433 F. +82 (0)63 288 5411

Seoul Office

(04031) 4F, 16, Yanghwa-ro 15-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea T. +82 (0)2 2285 0562 F. +82 (0)2 2285 0560

JEONJU Cine Complex

(54999) JEONJU Cine Complex, 22, Jeonjugaeksa 3-gil, Wansan-gu, Jeonju-si, Jeollabuk-do, Republic of Korea T. +82 (0)63 231 3377