Im Kwon-taek's Ticket (1986) is a brilliant look into the inner-workings of hostess’ lives and how the da-bang system. But more than that, as in some other hostess dramas, the audience is invited into the lives of the women who are stuck in these lives. While every women ended up in the same da-bang working as a hostess, they all arrived through different routes allowing to better understand the ease and flexibility through which women could (and do) end up with this type of life.
While I think this film is just as powerful in showing the emotional and economic depths that women were forced to sink to in Korea at that time (see Yeongja’s Heydays), for me this film stands out amongst other hostess dramas because of the honesty with which it shows the ruthlessness with which the da-bang must be run and the desperation with which the women in it must work.
For the uninitiated, da-bangs were a type of coffeehouse in which women would act as hostesses the male customers. However, often more important was the delivery services they offered in which sexual transactions often took place. These are mostly extinct in Korea and I have never been to one or seen a real one that was still operating -- although I have seen cafes use the name "da-bang" as a kind of throwback to times past (see Jungdabang, one of my favorite art galleries in Mullae). From my Korean friends I have heard stories about them seeing strange women deliver coffee to their fathers, but even my older friends seem to have no direct experience with da-bangs.
Ticket, for me, represents a kind of museum for the da-bang. Director Im goes to great lengths to show the minutiae of how a da-bang is operated. He allows us to see their pay day in which the madame goes through each trivial expense that the women must pay back. If one of the workers stayed over 20 minutes, stayed out overnight, got an advance, etc, their earnings were deducted and the madame kept a record of everything. While it might appear tedious at first, I think these scenes are important to show that the women must continue to operate and perpetuate the capitalist system that marginalized them in the first place.
The madame of the da-bang, Ji-sook, played perfectly by Kim Ji-mee, is the heart of the film. At first we see her as the stingy boss who has no heart for her down-and-out hostesses. She sets the rules and expects everyone to follow them. But we soon learn that, not being able to support herself, she was forced to work in a da-bang years before when her poet-activist husband was put in prison. When her husband was released from prison her shame kept her from returning to him so she continued her work.
Aside from Ji-sook, the movie largely follows Yoon Se-yeong (played by Jeon Se-yeong) who comes to the da-bang for the money. At first she refuses to perform sexual acts but quickly becomes the pariah of the cafe. Having to support her parents and her boyfriend as he goes through college, she eventually succumbs to the pressure to entertain in a more sexual manner and becomes a quite popular hostess. By the end of the film she is pregnant and after discovering her more sexualized work ethic, her boyfriend leaves her.
Having just confronted her long-lost ex-husband, Ji-sook is furious at Se-yeong’s boyfriend for leaving her. She talks with him, but after his adamant refusal to go back to Se-yeong, she pushes him into the water and continues to beat him until she believes him to be dead. Ji-sook goes crazy and ends the film in a mental institution.
But perhaps the saddest of them all is Miss Yang, played by the wonderful Ahn So-young. Her story is short compared to the othes, but Ahn plays the character with such hope that we become enveloped in her personality. After delivering coffee to a movie set she starts a conversation with a much older actor about appearing in a film. He invites her to his room for an “audition” where he of course forces her to have sex. When she arrives for another meeting, he has of course left.
Miss Yang’s hope for a better future is contagious and we cannot help but yearn for her escape. But she, like the other women in the film, cannot escape.
Ticket won three awards at the Film Critics Awards including Best Production, Best Director, and Best Actress for Kim Ji-mee. The film also won several awards at the Grand Bell Awards (1986) including Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Planning, and Best Newcomer for Jeon Se-yeong. Kim Ji-mee also won an acting award at the Baeksang Art Awards.
It should also be noted that this film was also produced by Kim Ji-mee's new production company Ji-mee Film. In an industry that continues to be dominated by men, her remarkable achievement in creating such a beautiful film should not go unnoticed. For more information, go here (Korean).
You can watch this film for free with English, Korean, or Italian subtitles on YouTube thanks to the Korean FIlm Archive. Thank you!
100선100선티켓 (1986) 이미지
티켓 (1986) VOD ENGLISH
출연김지미, 안소영, 명희, 이혜영, 전세영, 박근형, 최동준, 윤양하 전체보기
장르멜로드라마 | 사회물(경향)
키워드강원도, 다방레지, 살인, 정신이상, 정신병원, 속초