Film Image
102 minutes
South Korea
English subtitles


MOTHER follows labor activist Lee So-seon, who for over 40 years organized for workers’ rights in South Korea. A courageous, yet humble woman, Lee’s activism began the day her son, iconic labor activist Chun Tae-il, died in November 1970.

South Korea’s rapid industrialization under the Park Chung-hee ​dictatorship in the 1960s and 1970s modernized the country at the cost of workers’ lives. Laborers experienced inhumane working conditions​, ​​​​​​​including ​16-hour shifts at poorly ventilated sweatshops where deaths and injuries were common. During this time no labor activist was as influential as Chun Tae-il, a garment worker from the notorious Peace market sweatshops who immolated himself at 22 years of age shouting "We are not machines." Chun Tae-il’s death sparked a revitalized movement for labor justice and democracy that culminated in the 1987 June Democratic Uprising.

This documentary follows Lee during the last two years of her life, while theater actors Baek Daehyun & Hong Seungyi are in the process of staging a play about her and her son Chun Tae-il.​
"MOTHER is a lovely and fitting tribute to Lee So-seon... Her good humour positively radiates as she cracks jokes and mocks those around her with a playfulness that belies her years. Similarly Lee So-seon’s ideology of equality and humanitarianism shines throughout the film, not only in answering probing questions but just as sincerely through her everyday activities." - Hanguk Yeonghwa Blog, The Home of Korean Cinema
• DMZ Korean International Documentary Festival
• Seoul Independent Film Festival
• Gangneung Human Rights Film Festival
• Gwangju Human Rights Film Festival
• Sao Paolo International Film Festival
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