Migrant Workers on TV and Those They Met

Migrant workers on TV and those they met

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Chuseok holiday in 2004. In the square, a group of migrant workers were taking pictures with the department store building in the background. Looking at them, I instantly fell into a strange feeling. Inside the frame were the magnificent department store, the square, the passersby who glanced at them, the smiles of migrant workers who embraced the ‘Korea Dream’, and the other side of this smile. Of course, seeing happy faces makes me happy, but the fact that I can’t erase the bitterness comes from my memories of about 6 months in 2004.
It may be the same reason that it is a little uncomfortable to see migrants on the entertainment program <2 Days & 1 Night> or a holiday program that preaches multiculturalism. No matter how good the planning intentions of migrant workers and their families appearing in <2 Days & 1 Night> to stimulate affection for humanity are good, the harsh reality of migrant workers and hostile social atmosphere, which can be said to be the other side of the TV video, are too much. I want to point out that it is easy to pass. Would it be too much of a leap forward if we recall the case of an Australian Aboriginal sports athlete being exploited by the state through the Olympics? Also, it cannot be overlooked that the gaze of migrants through emotional appeal can cover up the miserable reality.
When I was a student majoring in photography, I visited a factory in Incheon after taking a leave of absence for a backpacking trip that everyone said. More than 80% of the workers were non-regular workers. The factory was a place where the domestic market share reached 70% for manufacturing cooling towers, but when I think of the bolts and nuts that unskilled workers like me drop into the product every day and the always sloppy grinding, those words sometimes made me wonder. I became a non-regular worker and started a relationship with migrant workers who were also non-regular workers.

Akbar from Uzbekistan, who took out a picture of his 3-year-old son when he was drunk and muttered incomprehensible words and stroked the picture like a magician. We became international bikers when we raced on the road by repairing abandoned junk bikes together.
The company told hyung that he did a good job without saying anything and that he would extend his visa, but the best treatment the company gave him was simply saying, ‘Eat a lot and work a lot overtime’.
When I saw my first passport photo after looking only at the face of my older brother with a broken bone, I was startled. It was a picture of a completely different person. The older brother, who thought only of his son in his home country, was weakened, so he visited the hospital more often. When I had to go to the hospital due to back pain or body aches, I had to feel the uncomfortable gaze of the factory manager because he always wanted to go with me instead of an office worker. But if hyung wanted it, I always said ‘Do it~ (It’s okay)’.
One day in a heat wave in August, I was late twice a week, and I was fired directly from the plant manager. At this time, I couldn’t say ‘Hara’

Hassan-hyung, a polite filial piety who always wears respectful words and has a generous smile, who rides into the room on a bicycle when he gets drunk.
The appearance of a big brother who repeatedly said “I’m sorry” on the next day after he had done his aggression was sometimes even cute. Then one day, my brother left with a joke saying, “I’m not going to work tomorrow.” Illegal stay without visa – My older brother, who became an undocumented migrant worker, said he wanted to see him somewhere in Gyeonggi-do after half a year, and called to the point of annoyance. But it never came to pass.

Ashitya, a young man from Pakistan who majored in computers, had no energy all morning after eating only two fried eggs and wanted to read books.
Like an engineer, his head turned quickly and he was a good partner for me. When my boss threw me a job, I would play around with Asipak in the shade to avoid the scorching H-beam, and both of them were unskilled workers, so we quarreled a lot over the way we worked.

Since both the dormitory and the factory were close to where I live, I naturally had a lot of time to spend with migrant workers, and sometimes I was able to check the anxiety and tears of my friends. It was a short period of time, but we heard it to a certain extent, and it was like we had a kind of solidarity as colleagues, neighbors, and same outsiders.
However, at that time, I felt the exploitation of my status as a non-regular worker, but I did not focus on structural problems or conspiracies. It was because it seemed that if we went on a backpacking trip as planned, we would be freed from all the troubles. However, in the corner of her heart, there were only a little dark and awkward expressions of the migrant worker. However, my own light hearings in 2004 followed, as I encountered a growing number of different perspectives on migrants.
The time was 2008, the candlelight crisis in the Korean Peninsula. The sight of the citizens rising up like wildfire and pouring into the streets was even sublime. But the problem is always next. Candlelight and what happened after that? I came to see the appearances of quadrants in the absence of self-view. I was also standing on the street at the time, and I was thinking about the future. It was at this time that I looked back at the migrant workers. At that time, my homepage had a photo work concept ‘Chuseok Special’ recorded in 2004, and my light hearing without an announcement of the results was weighted, and after graduation, I was faced with a real problem of making a living. I naturally became a dispatched worker and moved to a factory that was easy to contact with migrant workers, and at the same time, I registered as a supporting member of the Korea Migrant Human Rights Center.

The reality of migrant workers came to me more seriously than in 2004 when I was a student. Things that had not been seen before began to become visible, which became intermittent pain. The lives of non-regular workers, including migrant workers, felt like medieval serfs. So, I often called the Migrant Human Rights Center and asked about the reality of migrant workers even though there was no clear solution.
The self-harmful scene caught my eye, where differences became discrimination, and workers became classes and ruled over the same workers. Even though the name is clear, migrant workers from Indonesia who say that ‘Balnom X’ was their name, pat on the ass of a migrant worker who is about the size of an uncle’s father, instructing them to work, immature young regular employees who think it’s okay to speak nonsense because they are ‘foreign workers’ Office geeks looking forward to running around. To be honest, witnessing this kind of scene sometimes fueled my anger, but it was also the way I was at the time that I did not protest or fight.

The incident eventually happened to a Nepali worker who was close to me.
He is a tall and handsome friend, so when I told him he was serious and half joking that he could model later, he was shy, and this worker, who often said, “Work is okay, people are bad,” grabbed the full-time employee by the collar and expressed the accumulated anger in his poor Korean language. expressed However, most of the Korean employees were not interested in the cause of the fight and only blamed the Nepali workers.
After the incident, the friend left the factory along with some Nepali colleagues. I couldn’t catch migrant workers. The only thing I could do was to tell the remaining migrant workers through a letter that ‘responding with collective action like Mongolian migrants can be one of the ways to be treated fairly’. I was a very poor person. So I quickly quit the factory.

Seeing such acts of violence against migrant workers in the workplace made me think of Korea’s bureaucratic society. How is the Korean bureaucracy different from that? The crackdown method of the immigration enforcement team, which is reminiscent of a game of hunting, wearing dozens of handcuffs like a knife, and engaging in violent verbal assaults, is finally making the fleeing migrant workers throw themselves. This is clearly murder. Is the case of migrants raising newborns in shelters a warm virtue of the government’s immigration office? If we recall the fire at the Yeosu Shelter, and compare it with the poor mansion, the dark shadow of Europe, the foreigner shelter is literally an iron prison.

And in everyday life, there are those who cry out that migrant workers undermine Korean workers’ wages, take their jobs, and harm the economy of the common people. If so, are Korean non-regular workers receiving about -46% of wages compared to regular workers, threatening the wages and jobs of regular workers and distorting the economy of ordinary people?
When I took a taxi with migrant workers, my face burned when I faced the taxi driver who started talking nonsense from the window. I think that ‘nationalism’ is not the essence of the problem in these everyday situations. Perhaps, the answer must be found from the germ of social evolution that has been in effect since the end of the Old Han Dynasty.

And what about the media? Far-right media, New Daily, etc. define migrant workers as criminals such as rapists and terriers, as the main culprits in the economic breakdown of the working class, and as targets for deportation, but what kind of logic is it to criticize the exploitation of Korean migrant workers in Australia? ? How can we explain the application of double standards to the same migrant worker? And, the truth about the Australian case was, to a disgrace, the exploitation of Korean employers.

When I look back at the article, it seems that it was written by a field activist rather than a support member, so I am suddenly cautious. But for me, neither an activist nor a professional intellectual, the life of non-regular workers in this land comes to me as painful. Of course, I am still aware that my way of looking at migrant workers is emotional. It is true that the question ‘why me but that person?’ can be the beginning of recognition, but there is no choice but to feel the limit. That is why I want the Human Rights Center and related organizations to be valuable teachers and channels for me.
I believe that living together with immigrants, who are dignified members of this society, is also an understanding of ‘human’.
People often ask me ‘Why a photo?’ And then I answer. ‘I love you, I want to receive’, ‘I just love you’. I believe it all starts here.
There is a parody sentence I saw on Twitter a while ago. ‘We are a handful and they are everything’. Of course, it could be a self-helpful statement about the miserable reality.
And I pay more attention to another investigation. It is a line from the scene of the funeral of a militia who died fighting against the fascists in the film Land and Freedom, 1995, which deals with the Spanish Civil War.

“The battle will continue and our enemies are many. But we have more. There will always be more of us. Tomorrow is ours. comrade”

(The meaning of the film is limited to the above lines due to differences in viewpoints on historical facts.) Remembering this movie in which I shed tears while sipping soju in my bedroom as a student is always believing that only people standing in the middle of life are beautiful Because. This is because we believe that the human being in the midst of ‘rising’ and ‘falling’ is a ‘living’ human being and a ‘human human being’. So, I pay attention to the migrant workers in this land who stand in the middle of their lives.

Finally, I call my comrades by name.
Akbar! Hotsan! Ahhh! Tirac! crab shovel!

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