The Strange New Vocabulary of Korean Factory Workers

In the 1970s and 80’s, South Korea’s industrial expansion gave rise to new linguistic developments. The filmmaker Nils Clauss charts the evolution of this lexicon in his documentary, Bikini Words. “This index is so fascinating…it’s not only of value linguistically, but also as a unique social historical document that sheds light into the life of the so called ‘factory boys’ and ‘factory girls’ of that period and the harsh conditions they worked under,” Clauss writes in a blog post. “The words also emphasize the importance of education for the factory workers, and the role fashion played as a form of escapism in the short periods of leisure time they enjoyed.”

The Atlantic has previously featured Clauss’s work from South Korea. He is part of the production company CONTENTED.