A heavy synthesised score features through much of Ticket placing it in the 80’s. It was actually made in 1986 thought the themes could go back a lot further as the film deals with a coffee shop in a tough Korean coastal town, where it can be assumed that the disembarking sailors have a girl in every port. Certainly Min Ji-sok (Kim Ji-mee) the owner is happy to indulge the men with extras.

Ji-sok has taken on three girls from the agency to join her operation. There’s varying levels of experience and motives for them. All need the money and that isn’t straightforward to make with Ji-sok’s accounting methods complicating and mostly indebting the women.

They start to find their feet but for Yun (Se Yeong-jeon) as a green around the gill’s newbie with a boyfriend, things are particularly tough. Initially reluctant she comes to terms and makes what she can of it, and find some sort of happiness. Her life complicate when her naive boyfriend starts to look for work on the ships.
Yun and Min are the most interesting and developed characters though all are developed to some extent. Mi’s story of the break-up of her marriage and the after-shocks, and as to how she ended up with the coffee shop is especially moving.

The films plays as a sort of slice of life as the women go about the jobs, deliveries, associations and basically anything that will get them some money. There’s a briskness and efficiency about these scenes as they banter and deal with their clients. That naturalness carries over when they are amongst themselves off duty chatting and conversing. Apparently that was at the insistence of star Min that these should be fluid allowing the women the freedom to express and develop.

In this male dominated world, theirs is tough lot of abuse and exploitation: one is tricked by an old, fat film director into sleeping with him only for her to turn up the next day, the stars in her eyes extinguished as she’s told he’s gone. The image that director Im Kwon-taek holds of her for a few seconds resonates long after.

The salted air of the sea is palpable throughout the film with bright colours and images though they don’t buff up the intrinsic sleaziness of the operation. However writer Song Gil-han and Kwon-taek, despite the exploitation that necessarily runs through the movie, don’t portray the women as weak and enfeebled rather that they are smart, assertive and capable of holding their own.