Employees of the ‘Iris’ sewing factory in Hawolgok-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul are working on making children’s clothes for the squid game on the 15th. Reporter Ryu In-ha
At the ‘Iris Trade’ sewing factory in Hawolgok-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, the sound of machines running was heard nonstop. The employees were busy working according to the process they were assigned to. On one side of the factory, finished green sweatshirts (training suits) were piled up and waiting for packaging. On the 15th, this place was in the midst of producing 700 pieces of ‘Squid Game’ to be supplied to children’s clothing companies.
Kim Jin-ja, the wife of Iris President Ko Jong-hyun and in charge of overall production and delivery, said, “I worked until 10 pm yesterday and left work. It’s been a long time since I worked until late.” A pressure band around Kim’s arm was revealed through the T-shirt she was wearing. He said, “I could not see a way to survive even if I ran around to eat and live, but it is good to be able to work even with a small amount of work,” he said.
Netflix’s most popular TV shows around the world <오징어게임>The sewing industry, which has been hit directly by this COVID-19, is also playing a ‘filial piety’. This is thanks to the pouring of orders for the production of squid games from domestic sewing companies as Halloween day overlapped.
The sweatshirt is made in two colors: the green worn by the squid game participants and the pink worn by the security guards. Kim said, “We received orders from the 12th, finished cutting and processing, and started working in earnest. The entire process from cutting to stitching is done by hand. “From the quality of the yarn to the finish, a Chinese product cannot match a domestic product,” said Kim.
A squid game tracker made by a sewing company in Hawolgok-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul is tagged with ‘MADE IN KOREA’ to indicate that it is made in Korea. Reporter Ryu In-ha
President Ko Jong-hyun, who was doing the cutting in a corner of the factory, said, “Today is payday, and I feel a little more comfortable because I think I will be able to pay the employees’ salaries without paying debts this month.” Iris, which has mainly been exporting to Japan, is struggling with loans as the Korea-Japan trade dispute and the COVID-19 situation overlap. Even Iris, who has been operating a sewing factory for 35 years in Seongbuk-gu since 1986, is struggling with the prolonged Corona 19. In general, there are many places in the sewing industry that operate on a ‘gaekong’ system, which is a form of employment in which wages are paid according to the number of finished products without a basic salary, but these are operated on a monthly basis. This is because it is the policy of this place that, regardless of whether the work is a lot or a small amount, employees must pay their wages in order to produce high-quality products.
Seongbuk-gu has the third largest number of sewing factories after Jongno-gu and Jungnang-gu in Seoul. Of the 2,144 manufacturing businesses in the district, 1510, or 70%, are sewing companies. The areas of Jongam-dong, Jangwi-dong, Wolgok-dong, and Seokgwan-dong are the areas behind Dongdaemun and have been densely populated with sewing factories since the 1980s, and the apparel industry and the textile manufacturing industry around it have developed. However, from the early 2000s, the domestic sewing industry began to decline as work was concentrated in overseas factories in China, Vietnam, and Myanmar, where labor costs were low. According to data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in 2017, the number of sewing companies nationwide decreased from 42,000 in 1993 to 25,227 as of 2015. 68.3% (17,233) of the remaining medical sewing companies in Korea are being operated as small businesses with four or less employees as supplies are lost to China, where they can be mass-produced at low prices. 90.1% of the total (22,748 companies) are businesses with fewer than 9 employees.
Iris Ko Jong-hyeon and Kim Jin-ja’s granddaughters are sitting in squid game sweatshirts on the 15th. Reporter Ryu In-ha
Seongbuk-gu is spurring the revival of poor sewing companies. Starting with environmental improvement work for poor small sewing companies, the company plans to support the sewing industry from production to distribution and sales. We will also implement the training of an aging sewing manpower. A district official said, “This year, we replaced sewing equipment such as sewing machines, irons (factory irons), ventilation facilities and old equipment worth 9 million won per company for small sewing companies in the district. We also supported additional installations,” he said.
The Seongbuk Smart Fashion Industry Center will also open in November. Through the operation of a comprehensive fashion industry center equipped with state-of-the-art equipment such as an automatic cutting room, sample room, design room, and pattern room, it plans to continuously provide sewing manpower training, online sales channel support, and youth fashion startup incubation support. In addition, they decided to provide practical support, such as lending four special sewing equipments, such as ‘Odramp’, a sewing machine capable of special work, to small businesses in the area for free. Seongbuk-gu mayor Lee Seung-ro said on the 17th, “We will continue to meet with the business owners of the local sewing companies and continue to understand what kind of support they actually want. I want you to knock,” he said.
Seongbuk-gu mayor Lee Seung-ro (second from left) visits Iris on the 15th and has an interview with Go Jong-hyeon and Kim Jin-ja. Reporter Ryu In-ha