It adds up: Thoughts on “Awl” Episode 6

Episode 6–After a quick recap of the “justice porn” disciplinary hearing and Goo Go Shin’s epic rooftop arrival scene, things get rolling. Lee Soo In tries to get rid of the security guards/hired thugs again in his typically polite way:

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GGS tells him not to bother. They might learn something too! He pushes the security guards behind him, declares that they make him ‘feel important’, and now:

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He reminds the Fourmis Mart workers about the IMF crisis in 1997: Office workers were laid off, businesses went bankrupt..and as a result, many women went into the workforce to provide financial support for their families. One ahjumma disagrees. She’s there to kill time and get ‘pocket money’ aka frivolous spending money. GGS and I both say, “Really?” He discusses what I think the majority of ladies there go through–waking up and leaving before your kids even go to school, being in pain from bending/lifting/being on your feet all day, bladder infections from having to hold it and wait until break time if it ever occurs. But you do all that with a smile on your face, right? Pocket money is a gift….

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He explains that employees have rights too. GGS specifically addresses the ‘pocket money’ ahjumma, asking why she’s here at the union meeting.

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Personally, I came here for the story…the good looking men are just ‘Pocket Money’; an unexpected but much appreciated bonus! The crowd titters, but GGS gets back on track

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He asks if they can bring their kids to work, and more importantly–would they want their kids to work there? It wouldn’t happen, right? GGS contends that it’s not because the work is difficult or the pay is low. It’s really about the way they are treated:

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You get slapped or spit at, and humiliated….

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It’s shameful, and everyone knows it.

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Why should honest and hardworking people feel ashamed? GGS says an employment contract is not a slave’s contract. He knows that some of the workers don’t have enough money to get by; the utilities barely get paid. Even lunch money for the kids is a pinch. At this point, a couple of the ladies in the group start to cry, and I know GGS’s persuasive and passionate words have found their mark. He makes another point:

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Even if you keep going, the kids eventually get sick…

Then he skips to another topic: South Korea is a developing economic power, the Gross Domestic Product per capita is rising. GGS asks why it feels like they are not part of this; in fact, their situations seem to be worsening. The wealth of large corporations:

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The corporations fire the permanent workers and save money:

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The company then blames the worker for not being efficient:

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He puts another question in front of the Fourmis mart employees:

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Yeah, Shamrockmom wants to know the answer to that one too! It’s because the bosses don’t consider them to be human beings; instead they are numbers on a page to be added or erased to fit the bottom line. Similar to slaves:

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No one gets angry or fights back; the respect is out of fear. A normal human being would get angry and fight back if attacked.

Side Note: I believe the fact that some people don’t consider unborn babies to be human beings is the reason that abortion is currently legal here in the US. Until the mid 1800’s in the US, slaves weren’t considered to be human beings either, and slavery was legal then too. Similar to slavery, abortion is a humanity issue, and not an exclusively religious issue. Religion muddies the water and polarizes people. The real question is: Why are some human beings considered non-human and therefore expendable?

GGS is a big hit with the Fourmis employees, especially Miss Jung Min:

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I think the sunset in the background is an interesting metaphor….the sun has set on the way things used to work at Fourmis Mart. GGS knows the fight is about to begin, and it’s not gonna be a little skirmish either:

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Kang Min notes that the lady who was crying during the meeting wasn’t a union member, but a contract employee with the seafood department. GGS is a little ticked off–how did she get an invite? Turns out Jun Cheol invited her. LSI clarifies things for GGS:

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Good thing somebody can read the fine print! GGS says that Fourmis will fire her the minute her contract expires. KM says that the lady has been working there for almost 3 years. Her contract has been renewed multiple times–so LSI wonders why she doesn’t have a FT employment agreement. Recent Korean Supreme Court cases have held that the workers with multiple contract renewals should have protection against unfair dismissals. GGS and KM are impressed that LSI has done his homework. Problem is, if the management fires her, the wrongful termination case will take about 5 years to grind through the court system:

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LSI takes a turn at being ticked off: Should Fourmis just take permanent workers into the union? Should they be selective about membership? GGS takes LSI aside for a little chat:

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I think GGS has more modest goals. LSI is ambitious–but not in a bad way. Again, I think they want the same things….it’s just a difference in how to achieve the goals.

Cut to a meeting at a hotel conference room between Head Manager Song, his lackey/aide, Union Director Lim Kyung Mi and Union Steward Yu Jong Hyuk (from Episode 2). The aide says that managers like LSI can’t join the union. LKM and YJH disagree–the union should get to decide who is or is not eligible.

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The aide wants to shut the meeting down right here, and let the union workers swing in the wind/stay in the tent. The union managers contend that a Fourmis manager has already joined the union. Do they have to rescind his membership? How crappy would that be? Head Manager Song has already thought of this, and brought a document for them to sign.

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I think it’s safe to say the higher-ups know that LSI is a force to be reckoned with. He’s dangerous because he has no gray in his moral code. He can’t be bought off, easily threatened, nor can they dredge up his past against him. LKM is especially PO’d, as we cut to a subsequent rooftop meeting at the Labor Law Center. LKM describes her feelings after getting the union membership refusal from Head Manager Song:

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No thunder please…that old TV antenna is a perfect lightning rod! True story–when my family moved to Pennsylvania due to my dad’s job transfer, a first-wave of SoCal families went before us. Back in the 1970’s, the first thing you did when you moved into a new place was set up the TV in the house and the antenna on the roof. No such thing as cable TV back in those days. In SoCal, we rarely get lightning strikes, but in Pennsylvania, they are much more frequent. My dad’s coworker put the TV antenna on the roof of the new house in Pennsylvania, just like everyone else did in SoCal. The first thunderstorm arrived about a week later, and lightning hit the antenna on the roof. It sent a huge charge of electricity through the wire, exploding the TV set and setting the living room on fire-in the middle of the night, of course. New rule–TV antennas belong in attics! BTW, we had lightning rods on our house, and we got hit one time during a monster storm. It felt like something picked up the house and shook it once. Similar to an earthquake, things fell out of cupboards and off shelves. Very scary.

LSI wants to know if it was legal to block his membership, and GGS chimes in that it’s unfair but technically legal. LSI wants to know next about the temporary workers–can they join the union too? LKM says it’s still being negotiated. That’s not quite good enough for our resident perfectionist:

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LSI’s heated tone doesn’t sit well with Yu Jong Hyuk, who gets testy as he says no one is thinking about abandoning the temp workers. But I sense some cop-out BS on the way:

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Hmmm. Are these two union reps all bark, no bite? YJH says that to get the company to accept the temp worker’s application, they might have to blow off the manager’s applications. KM starts to get annoyed, as he tells YJH to stop threatening LSI and that the Il Dong Fourmis group is just getting off the ground. (I believe Il Dong is a northern suburb of Seoul in case you are wondering.) While all this is going on, GGS and So Jin just sit back and enjoy the show–not!

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So Jin says it’s time to step it up a notch:

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She gives credit to GGS’s marvelous teaching methods, but GGS knows better:

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Next we see a meeting where the workers are taking a vote on whether LSI can become a union leader. KM is appointed Union Steward by a large vote, which seems to momentarily crush LSI’s ego, but he politely shakes KM’s hand and is a very gracious loser. My heart is sad for my favorite born outcast. Later on at the market, the ahjumma crew are quick to give KM a rice cake treat, but only Dong Hyub’s mom offers one to LSI. The ahjumma crew seem to feel slightly guilty that LSI only got a few votes, and has done a lot to get the union going, but Young Sil says they should not let their guard down because ‘the cat shared it’s milk with the mouse one time’! They agree that LSI will probably be on their case again soon. Hey, I’ll take a boss like Lee Soo In any day of the week, and not just ’cause he’s a hottie either!

Back at the labor law center, the guitar playing ahjussi wishes LSI could be a Union Steward for his union! He wonders why LSI lost, and LSI says it’s because he has only been there a few months, but KM has been there for 5 years. GGS says it’s because elections are all about the face–and KM won that one. (Side note–No wonder the recent elections here in the US were so problematic if it’s all about the face!) LSI has a sad look, but GGS says he’s different:

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He goes on and on about how face readers (?) say that good looking men with happy expressions do better in life…until Miss So Jin can’t take the BS anymore and tries to turn off the flow:

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And she pushes the remote button repeatedly as he won’t seem to shut up! Ha! I love these two. She gets up and closes the door between the two parts of the office, and tells LSI and the guitar ahjussi to continue on as GGS yells that she is always interrupting him when he has important things to say.

Cut to Head Manager Song and Manager Jung having a meal in a Japanese (?) restaurant. Manager Jung looks like a kid waiting to be reprimanded, but Manager Song starts out by saying he knows that managing the store is hard work. They have a drink, and Manager Song says that there is a Union now at his store, for which Manager Jung apologizes immediately. Then he says something that is not expected:

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Manager Jung says no, we can’t allow a union. Replacing permanent workers with temporary workers saves money. The union will interfere in the company’s decision making process, and the company will not be able to grow. Head Manager Song says listening to Manager Jung has convinced him that a union is not a good idea….and he just wanted to have drinks together today. Hmmm.

Back at Fourmis Mart, Gaston and his evil crew are doing a walk-thru when all the employees say good morning to KM, and Gaston scowls. Later, KM has a meeting:

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While LSI passes out some info papers, KM says that the Managers are going to continue giving them all a hard time. They may even feel like quitting, which KM urges them not to do:

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He advises them to join the union to protect their rights. LSI lets them know that even if they don’t join right away, perhaps it is something to keep in mind if they experience future mistreatment. He gives the workers another important tip:

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Show immediately cuts to a meeting where Gaston is appealing directly to the Fourmis workers (with a translator) that the company is poised for big growth especially in Korea, and the success depends on them! The BS fountain is flowing freely, as Gaston goes on about how all the workers are very important, and the company and workers will grow together. Later in the ladies changing room, it’s readily apparent that some workers believed the BS, but Jung Mi is under no delusion:

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#truth

LSI has the real scoop on Fourmis’ expansion plans–they are slowing down not speeding up:

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Yeah, anybody want to move 3 hours away or make the commute if you get promoted? Even in SoCal, that’s a deal breaker. There is no long term plan to open a ton of stores. Good thing LSI is a manager, or the union would never have this kind of insider info. Meanwhile, Manager Jung does his best to find employees who are not sympathetic to the union and reinforce their views:

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When that doesn’t work, he resorts to bribery. Manager Jung makes an offer to talk to her boss:

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Wouldn’t it be better to have more money and not have to lift a finger? (while becoming a toadie and/or a puppet of course) Manager Jung pours it on, even mentioning her kids as beneficiaries of her promotion and raise, but she is tight lipped and appears unconvinced. However, we soon see that the pressure from Manager Jung had it’s negative effect as she wants to resign:

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She claims it’s because her husband wants her to quit, but LSI and KM don’t buy it. They ask if she recorded the conversation, and she says she forgot how to turn on the recorder (yep, she’s scared) and they are at a dead end here. Dong Hyub and Jun Cheol also get the cold shoulder when they their coworkers if they’ve joined the union yet.

Cut to LSI and the guitar ahjussi shooting the breeze on a rooftop. Guitar ahjussi makes an astute observation. It’s hard work to gather people together, but:

Looks like Jun Cheol is learning the hard way that people are mostly concerned about themselves, and the heck with the greater good:

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GGS understands their frustrations:

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This is also applicable to most teenagers and young adults too, lol! Dong Hyub quickly agrees with GGS. GGS says he was feeling the same way about DH when he first showed up, and calls it a Superman Complex! He rakes the dudes over about not being on LSI’s side at first; they were selfish too.

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The dudes look appropriately embarrassed, but GGS reminds them to not take it to heart. After all:

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Dong Hyub wonders if they are wasting their time trying to get others on board with the union, but GGS tells him to just quit if he’s displeased. DH fires back that that would just make the bosses happy, and GGS wants to know what DH wants out of this. Revenge? Then he should just dig some dirt up on the company and go publish his finding. Don’t bother with pestering people about joining a union if that is the goal. DH says getting rid of one manager only to get another that’s almost the same is a waste. GGS counters:

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People are so pathetic and frustrating! (Can I get an Amen?!) GGS advises:

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When KM presses GGS for specifics, GGS hollers–that’s not his job! Then he advises: Find some concession the company can make that won’t cost them money.

DH hangs around to help Miss So Jin with taking out the trash, and boldly asks if she has a boyfriend. In a weird move, she comes back and questions him if he has a boyfriend! Eeeek. Dude, I don’t think she’s that into you! Back on the rooftop, LSI, KM, JC and DH strategize how to talk to their co-workers at the market, and they bicker about the formality level in their conversation. Then the group meets up with a mysterious man:

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KM says yes, and the man asks if they’ve seen “Peeper” aka GGS!?! WTH…! Does that mean what I think it means? He further explains:

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He then excuses himself as the dudes snicker about the new nickname for GGS. I wonder who this man is?

LSI is on the computer back at his high-rise apartment when he gets a text narrated by a woman’s voice:

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I’m stunned…is LSI married? And he has a child?!? If so, why is he living away from his wife and child? But no explanation is given…drat!

Back at the store, KM interviews a co-worker who informs him that the gloves the store provides are not appropriate for cooking sample foods. Instead, the workers buy latex gloves:

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And at a minimum of 2 pair a day, that adds up. KM says he will look into it.

Side note: At our dental office, we need a lot of distilled water to run the sterilizer and for the dental chair units. (Municipal water has too much mineral content.) We have a machine that distills water, because going to buy it at the store became a big hassle. When a part broke on the machine a few months ago, one of the assistants went out and bought many bottles of distilled water at the store for the office to use for a week or so until the part arrived. When I asked if she saved the receipts to have the Boss reimburse her, she said no!  She didn’t want to bother the Boss (WTH) and she was just going to eat the cost herself. Stunned, I tried to change her mind as I reminded her that she was not the owner and since when did it become her dental office to take financial responsibility like that? That’s the Boss’s job! Yeah, it’s only a few bucks–but it adds up like that Fourmis worker said. I went to the Boss and told her that my co-worker was footing the cost of the distilled water, and to my Boss’ credit, she said she would reimburse her. I didn’t ask if it ever happened, but at least I tried.

Here’s another request by a co-worker: awl6-54

The company only gives them one set, and there’s barely enough time to get it washed and dried before you have to go back to work. KM also says he will see what he can do.

Additional complaints from the Fourmis workers include the fact that they routinely get to work a half hour early and stay a half hour later.

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And this no-brainer:

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Employees should be able to use break time as they wish. Workers from other companies who come to Fourmis take orders from the Fourmis bosses, which is illegal outsourcing. This next one is particularly enraging, as Manager Yoon asks this pregnant worker to climb the ladder and stock the shelves! Here in the US, that’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. Hey, Manager Yoon! Get a young man to stock the stuff up high!

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Cashiers are forced to make up the difference if a cash drawer is short…but they can keep any overages, lol. That oughta encourage honesty!/sarc.

The law (in both the US and SK) states:

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Unless there is gross negligence on the employee’s part. Salaried workers also get shafted when their vacation pay, swing/night shift differential and overtime pay gets tallied. LSI knows no workplace is perfect. ‘Traffic lights’ to keep everyone honest get broken here and there. But at Fourmis, it’s a lawless zone–all for the employer’s benefit.

Two security guards are following Dong Hyub around, irritating him to the point where he says this:

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Yeah, those two security guards definitely don’t work for JSS Security! (I am loving “The K2” and couldn’t resist the reference!)  He meets up with LSI, JC, KM, Jung Min and the other Union workers. They try to brainstorm something to have the store concede them that doesn’t cost money. Jung Min is frustrated with the guys:

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Heh, a college degree and a common sense degree are not necessarily given out in a package deal! She comes up with a good one: The Bag Search. LSI doesn’t know what she’s talking about, so Jung Min gives him the 411:

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She says that it’s icky to have a man go through a woman’s purse. I agree. DH seems to immediately contract the dreaded Foot-In-Mouth disease, as he starts out with ‘old ahjummas’, and then keeps going down the wrong path:

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Sheesh! Really–only women steal?!? I think not!  Jung Min corrects him quickly:

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FYI, marinated Rib Eye (for Bulgogi) is $6.99/lb on sale at H-Mart! Swooping a 4 pound pack of that once or twice a week adds up.

Side Note:  If you live in a ethnically food-challenged area, you can get relatively cheap pre-made Bulgogi at Costco, but it has it’s limitations. I’ve had it. It’s not too bad. I also like my super-easy homemade ‘Bulgogi’ that I make in a slow cooker with beef chuck roast and sauce from the ‘white-people’ grocery store. Instructions: throw meat in Crock Pot. Open sauce packet and dump on top. Set Crock Pot to Low, put the lid on, and show up 7 hours later for the yummy meal.

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It’s somewhat embarrassing that out of all the recipes from the web and all the marinades from H-Mart I’ve tried, this one is really good. It makes better Korean Tacos than the Kogi Taco Truck’s Korean Tacos IMHO.

OK, back to the show. LSI is on board with this plan of eliminating the purse searches:

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The show cuts to LSI and KM walking up to the Labor Law Office while they are having another discussion over names and formalities. KM asks if he can call him by his first name when this is all over. LSI looks daggers at him and says they’ve only just started. Later, Miss So Jin hassles GGS and the Guitar Ahjussi as they pore over the computer:

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GGS tells her it’s all in her head–the light bulbs are the same. But LSI and KM are the hotties and sitting in the light simply “highlights” that fact (pun intended). She returns with two bent wire coat hangers, holding them like divining rods as she walks around the office:

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She stops in front of GGS and announces:

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It’s the foul force in the room, lol!

Meanwhile, the Guitar Ahjussi takes LSI outside for a talk. He asks if they’ve met the landlord who looks like Gollum in Lord of the Rings! Let’s check this out:

Why yes, I think he’s right! They might have been separated at birth…par for the course if you watch the Korean daily dramas! LOL…

The Guitar Ahjussi says the Gollum-Landlord was GGS’s college friend who also got tortured by the government for protesting back in the day. He rents the office to GGS for free. There are other wealthy (and I assume anonymous) donors who help support the Labor Law Office as well. Still, there’s really not much coin leftover after expenses. The Guitar Ahjussi plays with the orange tabby kitten (super cute) while GGS comes out hollering that his mysterious allure is being wrecked! GGS demands money from the Guitar Ahjussi (it’s done playfully–he’s not serious), and the Guitar Ahjussi says he will payback by donating his kidney to GGS when it comes time to do the operation! Daebak! GGS has other ideas:

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The Guitar Ahjussi says it’s better than dying, but GGS says he is in such good health, he will see the ahjussi’s son’s 70th birthday!

Back at Fourmis Mart, the union guys are passing out flyers to get more workers on board. Suddenly a manager comes in and grabs the flyers out of the ladies’ hands: awl6-70

Hmm…if this isn’t interference with union activities, I don’t know what is. Management weakly counters with it’s own propaganda:

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Note the creepy ant in the shopping cart.

But the purse-searching is halted, to the astonishment of the ladies:

Kang Min reports back to GGS that 10 more workers have joined the union. GGS surmises that the management was trying to stay ahead of the curve and make the union look unneeded by eliminating the purse searches and placating the employees. GGS is even more surprised that they weren’t all fired in a total crackdown. He believes the company is screwing up big time due to a ‘moron’ in management. Hmmm. I’ll give you 3 guesses who that could be…

Cut to a meeting  of Head Manager Song (aka Jabba the Hutt) and Manager Jung (aka the Moron). Head Manager Song is not pleased with Manager Jung’s idea that taking care of the employee complaints will make the union look superfluous.

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He then overpours a drink for Manager Jung. WTH–the cup overflows and spills everywhere. Manager Jung looks totally confused too. Head Manager Song says that people don’t want what they have, but covet what they don’t have. They forget what they have to focus on what they don’t. He then grabs the cup and tosses the contents while saying:

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At least Manager Jung understands a direct hint! He makes up some sorta document, asks the other managers to sign it and have the employees sign it too. LSI reads it and asks: This is basically the same as the employment contract. So…

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Manager Jung mealy-mouths that there’s no harm in following regulations, right? Just making sure that the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed. LSI looks suspiciously at Manager Jung while the other managers robotically sign the paper.

LSI goes right to GGS and tells him of the latest development. He’s suspicious of Fourmis’ motivation, but GGS says to keep cool and not worry over every little move they make. Heh, telling that to LSI is like asking the sun to not come up in the morning!

Dong Hyub is stocking veggies when Kang Min comes running in late. DH says it’s okay, he knows KM is late because he is working on Union stuff, but Manager Jung pulls up right then and chastises KM for being late. KM has a polite comeback:

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He is ordered to come to the office, as is DH, who Manager Jung hassles over having his pants rolled up due to the heat. Manger Jung is on a mission this morning (or he woke up crabby) as he barks at Jung Mi:

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Managers Jung runs around looking for every little thing he can bust the workers over. He gives Kang Min a “Warning Letter” (written in English at the top, lol) while reminding him that 3 tardies is an absence, and he’s already been late twice due to ‘labor works and agitation’. He tries to goad KM by asking if he’s having fun yet, especially getting LSI to act like his subordinate, and having LSI bow down to him and all. KM doesn’t take the bait as Manager Jung pours it on, calling him LSI’s ‘cannon fodder’! KM sits down at the table and says he’s signing the document because it wouldn’t look good for a union manager to sign while bowing. Bam! Manger Jung is his usual out-of-touch self today:

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The Fourmis employees are rattled, and a rooftop meeting is convened. LSI and KM try to calm everyone:

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The ladies are especially concerned that their wages will be docked. LSI says that labor laws supersede employment contracts; no one will lose wages. It’s all empty threats. KM adds:

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Yeah, I don’t want Jung Min to run out of cash. She wouldn’t be able to buy that Malibu Barbie pink lipstick!

LSI and KM sit on the rooftop while LSI narrates that properly functioning rules limit private power, and–

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I might also add that this is why people in power get removed from that power, whether in SK or the US! Especially when this happens:

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because TPTB are under scrutiny/attack, as LSI flashes back to his days as a cadet. He asks KM if he’s got any ideas for this situation; unfortunately KM’s brain has taken the day off. LSI gets a call from Gaston, but we don’t get to see that conversation.

Manager Jung is back on the warpath, as he rakes another worker over for not having uniform pants. The worker tries to explain the pants weren’t dry after washing, so he had to wear something else. (Remember, the workers only get one uniform set. How the heck are they supposed to wash and dry it overnight on a clothesline? So ridiculous.) Manager Jung has a flashback from two years earlier when he was wrapping meat and Gaston showed up. Gaston throws a fit as Manager Jung is re-labeling expired meat to be sold. LSI translates, as Manager Jung explains why he’s doing it to a shocked Gaston:

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Gaston is understandably upset and barks at Manger Jung to follow the rules; it’s more cost efficient that way. Knowing how relatively strict the USDA regulations are, I cannot imagine any store here in the US would expect to do this and not be hit with significant fines and/or a shutdown, although I am sure it gets tried. Manager Jung says he will take responsibility (OMG), which makes Gaston blow a gasket! He is told to toss out the expired meat immediately! Looks like Gaston was a straight arrow dude at one point. Unfortunately, Manager Jung goes right back to re-packaging the meat while he mutters:

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That might be one of the lamest excuses for putting a customer’s health at risk that I’ve ever heard. And besides, if the store sold inferior meat, wouldn’t that tarnish their reputation? Who wants that?!

In another flashback, Gaston and Lee Soo In go out for drinks while Gaston gripes about the re-wrapped meat issue. LSI explains that Manager Jung’s motivation was for the good of the company, even if it was wrong. Gaston wonders why the employees treat him ‘like a God’ when he’s around, but then go behind his back and do whatever they want. LSI says it’s because the employees need time to adjust to the cultural differences. From my Western-Culture lock perspective, I don’t get it either. I think it goes both ways though. Gaston finishes by telling LSI that he wishes he had two of him to work with, and our normally humble manager informs his boss that he can easily do two jobs! Whoa….are his cojones talking here?!

LSI meets up with Gaston in Gaston’s office. He wants LSI to sign off on the reprimand for the worker who was not in dress code. LSI is not on board:

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Gaston reminds him that he wasn’t wearing a tie this morning like all the managers are supposed to. LSI counters that it was before the store opened; he put on an apron and stocked shelves because they don’t have enough workers to get the job done. (I wish most local grocery stores had the amount of workers that Fourmis does. There is one store that gets close, as do the Vietnamese Markets, but even they need more helpers. H-Mart wins: IMHO they have more cashiers, shelf stockers and food demo ladies than any store; Costco is a close second.) LSI notes that:

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LSI accuses him of unfairly discriminating against union activities, which Gaston denies. Later, at a meeting with all the managers and Gaston, LSI brings up that the employees are complaining about the promotion policies. He advocates for following the promotion policy that is already in writing. Manager Jung has a different idea:

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Ah, yes–the ‘fiefdom syndrome‘. Manager Jung says the seafood and meat departments are run by ‘tough guys’ and it would turn everything upside down if they went by the rules. LSI counters that store policy is really set by the managers with boots on the ground. If the managers don’t share the power and the responsibility, that’s when problems arise. When promotions are based on some unofficial hierarchy or favoritism:

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Ultimately, only the managers profit, and the employees and the company suffers. Heh, that statement is so logical, even Gaston can’t argue with it.

Instead, Gaston goes for a personal attack, as he tells LSI that he used to be his most trusted manager, but now he’s just a troublemaker. LSI knows the source of the animosity, and he straight-up tells Gaston:

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LSI wants to know:

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Now that would be some serious irony! Gaston blows LSI off: this is not France. This is Korea–and Koreans don’t deserve Unions!  WTF!  How can he say that?! LSI comes right back and calls it as he sees it. This:

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You betcha! And he demands an apology from Gaston! Now Gaston is PO’d, and says LSI is insulting him. He’s just speaking the truth; Koreans don’t follow the rules. They steal stuff, make secret deals with suppliers and bribe government officials. He further elaborates that Koreans ‘do things irrationally’ and he can’t deal with it. LSI retorts:

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Nawww! /sarc

And LSI doesn’t call all French people thieves either! He says there’s plenty of corruption, even at Fourmis’ corporate headquarters. LSI lets Gaston know that he was proud to work for Fourmis at one point, because it was fair, clean and respectful of the employees. However, the company–then he corrects himself–Gaston has lost his respect because he is messing with the employees to save money.

This is really an important point. LSI puts the blame on the right person. It’s not the company…it’s Gaston himself that is the bigoted racist DB here. Putting the blame on the company for Gaston’s words misses the mark. Gaston–and only Gaston–is responsible for the hate that comes out of his mouth. Personal responsibility FTW!

Flashback to 2 years earlier: Manager Jung is on the hot seat again, as Gaston gnaws on him about following the rules. He just found out the illegal meat-repackaging went on for 3 more months after Manager Jung was told to stop doing it. Gaston barks that if he’s gonna go behind his back and break the rules, he darn well better make sure he does it perfectly. (Please, don’t encourage him!)  Manager Jung shows up in Gaston’s office later on with an explanation in halting English, no subs–and a slip of paper. He’s done the math, and shows Gaston how much profit repackaging the meat saved the company “Korean-style”. Uh, oh….

Back to the present: Gaston has co-opted this craptastic excuse and tells LSI that he’s applying ‘localization’ to his management style. Wow, whatta load of BS that is! LSI is not buying:

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Gaston argues that corruption is not as bad in France as ‘you people’ are! Yikes–that’s such an ugly way to put it. He lets LSI know that any other company woulda fired him a long time ago, and made him write a letter of apology. Gaston blathers on that Korean labor unions are ‘savages’. In fact, he learned all about Korean labor unions before he left France! From books and a lecture….

Gaston continues on, calling the unions violent and unreasonable entities that destroy companies. His proof? Well, isn’t that what the Korean newspapers say about the labor unions? (Well, uh…yeah. ‘Cause they are government controlled. And we already know from previous episodes the government considers unions and their members communists and enemies.) LSI can’t take it any more, and yells at him to stop! He informs Gaston:

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Nor is he gonna be Gaston’s therapist! He wants to know if Gaston can negotiate with the union, or is it outside of his scope of power. If all Gaston is capable of is oppressing the union, then so be it. Meanwhile, LSI is gonna do what he has to do. He pauses for a moment as he recalls Gaston’s words:

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And he asks Gaston:

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Is threatening employees with being fired non-violent? Should one make decisions based on a few hours of lecture? This is not localization….this is how Gaston really is, and how he thinks. LSI leaves Gaston’s office as Gaston bellows his frustration at being called out.

LSI crumples the disciplinary notice in his hand as he walks away, and goes back to the market. He wonders if he can ever come back to this place, as he looks over the busy supermarket bustling with customers. He covers his face as the gravity of the situation seems to momentarily overwhelm him.

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This is not gonna be an easy fight, or one without casualties.

 

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