We know there are people who go to America with the hope of finding the American dream. Asian people specially from China, Japan and Korea go to America with this dream in mind. So, have you ever thought of people who are coming to our country? Southeast Asian countries such as India, Vietnam and Philippines have their people coming to Korea with the 'Seoul dream'. Moreover, there are people who come from other regions in Korea far away from Seoul. To them, perhaps Seoul is as attractive as New York City. Is the Seoul dream much easier to reach than the American dream? Are there any hardships in the daily life of Seoul? Let’s look into the Seoul life and its shadow that we may have missed.
Musical's 1&2 Act
Act 1 of Laundry unfolds mainly by focusing on the background of the main characters. The main actress Seo Na-Young appears in the noisy villa, giving a deposit to the owner of the house, an old woman, and arranges her luggage. This is the 6th time for her to move in Seoul. She has been living in Seoul ever since she left Gangwon-do. In the town, there are various people living together. From the main actor Slongo, who is a Mongolian and his friend Michel from the Philippines, to a widow, Hee-Jung who is dating a widower Mr. Gu. The villa where they live together, requires 5 million won for deposit and 300 thousand won for monthly rent pay. But most of residents can’t meet the dead-line because they live hard lives. Seo Na-Young gets used to the villa life while working in a bookstore and is awakened with new feelings when she hangs the laundry with Slongo of next door.
The beginning of Act 2 is rather ominous. One day, Ji-Sook who had worked with Seo Na-Young in bookstore gets unfairly dismissed. So, Na-Young expresses her anger to her boss. Displeased with her attitude, the boss orders her to work in the Paju warehouse. Paju is far away from Seoul. Later that day, they drink alcohol together, and when Na-Young returns her home, she fights with Slongo’s landlord. Slongo gets beaten by him in the process of protecting her. They become closer after this incident. 1 year later, a lot of changes come to the people living in the villa area and to Na-Young. Hee-Jung moves to another place, as owner’s son comes to the town. Lastly, Na-Young and Slongo live together and town people congratulate them although they could not officially plan for a wedding.
Their Seoul Dream, what kind of dream was it?
As the musical’s story ends happily, did their reality shine like a sun light? No, it didn’t. There was a; dark side for each person in the villa. First of all, the main character Seo Na-Young dreamed of becoming a writer, but she couldn’t keep dreaming and came to Seoul after quitting night school. She had lived in Seoul for 5 years. She began her job in a bookstore to read her favorite books, but she had gotten a lot of mental stress because of low pay and the working environment which can change at any time. Furthermore, she had accused her company of wrongdoing, but as a result, she got moved to another workplace. She cried a lot every night since then. The second main character Slongo graduated from a college in Ulan Bator, but when his family’s circumstance got worse, his younger brother’s education had to keep going. Therefore, he came to Seoul with the belief that he can earn a lot of money. But he illegally got his wage reduced from his factory and he couldn’t even file a complaint against his company, because he was an illegal immigrant. He had experienced a lot of situations like this, but he just calmed himself with the belief that he could still earn more money in Korea than his hometown. Besides these, the owner barely managed to live with her forty year - old daughter who couldn’t move because she had no limbs. Michel was in the same situation as Slongo, and Hee-Jung suffered from a low standard of living while keeping a cloth business in Dongdaemun.
Laundry Our Worries
If you watch this musical, maybe it seems like just a small glimpse of a hard reality. But Laundry’s most important point is that people can be healed while watching this musical. Characters of this musical came to Seoul with the Seoul Dream, but they suffer hardships in their daily lives. The important thing is that through the act of cheering and consoling each other the characters are able to find the strength to stay alive. One day, when Seo Na-Young cried in front of her house, Hee-Jung and the owner consoled her with their own experiences. Hee-Jung told her she experienced working in a two-shift working factory from the age of 15 years old and let Na-Young know that she can step forward by stopping her crying. The owner says she gained power through working in a laundry when she cared for her sick husband and her daughter. They sing and the lyrics go, ‘Like laundry leaned its body to wind, let’s lean our life to wind too. Let’s melt and wash our own sadness and injustice. Let’s enjoy ourselves where we are cleaned and dried and say anything again that we wanted to say. Their lyrics give healing not just for Na-Young but to the audiences too. Like this, Laundry provides symbolic acts to heal our scars given by reality and penetrates the hearts of the people who are tired of living in Seoul.
Seoul region residents who had lived in Seoul for a long time can complain about Seoul life, such as night shift of work which is repeated every day and about their low annual income. To people who had lived previously outside of Seoul, Seoul life can be a bit more difficult. They maintain Seoul life with various communal activities, and they can be a person who is getting used to Seoul culture because they came from another region. Have you ever thought of them even once? Regardless of the American dream or the Seoul dream, the common thing is that we all have our own dreams. There are various kinds of dreams, such as making a lot of money, standing close to a dream, and living a healthy life. Don’t complain about our own Seoul life, and let’s think about that people who is standing on the ground with us who have dreams just like us. I hope that you can see this through the musical Laundry.
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