A Tiger in Winter: A Struggling Writer in A Modern Society

Director and scriptwriter Lee Kwang-Kuk might not have intended to hit us writers hard in the bull’s eye. But when one of his dialogs in “A Tiger in Winter” (2017) which you can watch for free here shows you how laymen see writers, I was more offended than Kyung-yoo the protagonist himself.

The scene shows you know how badly writers are prejudiced in Korean society, which also holds true in mine (Indonesian). They are almost as lowly as unemployed people.

Kyung-yoo (Lee Jin-wook) is a homeless young man with a writing talent which unfortunately he tries to put behind his past. He wrote a novel but felt that the outcome was far than satisfactory to him.

Sadly, the society doesn’t seem to appreciate his talent. He sought a low-paid half-time job as a fast food chain waiter. He is older than most applicants and the manager of restaurant seems to be interested in hiring him but the young man was harassed for being unemployed for quite a long time. This employment gap was according to Kyun-yoo filled with a writing stint. He put much effort into his novel but somehow something held him back from publishing it.

He ran into his former girlfriend Yoo-jung (Ko Hyun-jung) while working as a driver for drunk car owners. And Yoo-jung was a little bit tipsy after perhaps some bottles of liquor that night.

Yoo-jung was a different type of writer. She was awarded a prestigious accolade for her published novel. Currently she was trying to start writing her second novel but could not find an inspiration.

The story gets more interesting as Kyung-yoo dealt with more and more uncivilized and rude behaviors from his clients. The conflict breaks when the male protagonist thought he discovered the ‘ill’ intent behind the rekindled past love.

To me, this movie perfectly captures how peoples in general view artists and writers, especially those writing fiction. It’s bitter but true.

Such an underestimating attitude is shown by the current Indonesian government. Renowned artist Butet Kertaradjasa felt troubled and hugely disappointed that one of the ministers defines artists as people whose faces can be seen on television only. Meanwhile, Butet’s definition of artists is everyone who has dedicated their lives to arts and make a living from it. These artists are those hardest hit by the pandemic. They cannot exhibit their artworks, their shows get cancelled until God knows when, and they have bills to pay (source: Merdeka.com).

As people are frantically supporting medical workers and appreciating doctors and nurses’ hard work amid the pandemic around the globe, we can still enjoy stories from various platforms and forms, be it books, podcasts, movies, short movies thanks to the hardwork of writers.

Stories keep us sane in our modern, clean, and comfortable confinements called houses, apartments, flats, or dorms.

But again, will people start appreciating writers’ hard work or keep ignoring their toil? (*/)

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Writer & yogi

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