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Movie Reviews

[NYAFF ’21] ‘Samjin Company English Class’ review: Earning a passing grade

Not just 9 to 5.

Samjin Company English Class is a movie from South Korea about three women who are trying to gain promotions in a male dominated world. The three employees of the Samjin Company just have to score at least a 600 on a standardized English test. In the process of studying for the test, they discover the company they work for is engaged in illegal activities.

The movie gets off to an interesting start. It introduces the three main characters and immediately draws the audience in. Samjin Company English Class also makes sure the trio remain interesting the entire time. This becomes more important as the movie progresses and more characters are introduced. The women fall into stereotypes at times, but this never negatively impacts the film.

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This can be especially difficult since Samjin Company English Class takes on a lot of heavy topics. There is the obvious issue of the misogynistic work environment, but the film also tackles morality in the personal and professional landscape. This is a wise decision as the added layers add more intrigue to the plot. The script is also unafraid to sprinkle in some humor.

[NYAFF '21] 'Samjin Company English Class' review: Earning a passing grade

Nowadays, many movies that take place in previous decades seem to have little reason for it. (Many times, it just seems to be a convenient workaround regarding cell phones solving every issue.) The date is a huge part of Samjin Company English Class. The movie looks like it is straight out of 1990s South Korea. This does not mean that the fashion and looks take center stage, however.

The country had just opened up to the global market in the mid-90s. Today, South Korea is often depicted as the ultra glamorous home of BTS. In 1995, it was reintroducing itself to the world. Samjin Company English Class sees a South Korea that offers up a glimpse of what it used to while showing its potential for the future. It is a nostalgic look at what is to come.

Some will find fault with the movie’s pacing. Since it does take on so much, it runs a little long to try to adequately address all the issues. This is especially noticeable in the second act. Samjin English Class also introduces a number of characters. While it would not be entirely accurate to say they are all given equal treatment, it is impressive how well they are all written. Overall, it is an entertaining movie that is unafraid to address many issues.

The New York Asian Film Festival takes place from August 6 – August 22. Screenings are live and online.

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