It’s easy to judge someone by the way they look, and sometimes that judgment is right. This is true in Ka Sungmoon’s Dream Palace, where some of the supporting characters look the way they are. The main characters, though, can be as shifty on the inside as they are on the outside. “You’re really something,” Su-in (Lee Yoonji) tells Hye-jung (Kim Sunyoung). Su-in is right though, since a woman one berates as she visits another in jail is not the kind of person to be there to drive that other person and their kids home from said jail. Hye-jung and Su-in have similarities in their stories. Both are widows after their husbands die in a factory explosion. But this film is more about Hye-jung, the first of the workers’ next of kin to cave and take settlement from the factory, eventually becoming the object of ire from those bereaved families.
Those family members aren’t the only people who are giving Hye-jung a hard time. She uses her settlement money to buy a condo with rusty pipes, and the condo can only do that job for the whole set of buildings which isn’t profitable yet because this new neighbourhood isn’t at full capacity yet. So she moonlights with the real estate company to sell units within the new development, which angers the development’s existing residents. Writing this all down reinforces that Dream Palace is juggling a lot of balls in the air, an act made more difficult as the film decides to use subtler techniques to tell its story. The simple solution is to just find this new condo, but even as a non homeowner I can imagine how difficult that must be. Regardless, the film and its lead Kim effectively takes their viewers to the story’s ups and downs.