Korean Movie Review : Parasite –– Another Masterpiece By Bong Joon-ho
Bong Joon-ho presents us with another masterpiece, Parasite.
Jobless, penniless, and, above all, hopeless, the unmotivated patriarch, Ki-taek, and his equally unambitious family–his supportive wife, Chung-sook; his cynical twentysomething daughter, Ki-jung, and his college-age son, Ki-woo–occupy themselves by working for peanuts in their squalid basement-level apartment. Then, by sheer luck, a lucrative business proposition will pave the way for an insidiously subtle scheme, as Ki-woo summons up the courage to pose as an English tutor for the teenage daughter of the affluent Park family. Now, the stage seems set for an unceasing winner-take-all class war. How does one get rid of a parasite?
A Sneak Peek into “Parasite”
The family of four that consists of the father Kim Ki-taek, his wife Choong-sook, and their two children Ki-woo and Ki-jeong has been living in a dirty poor part of South Korea for as long as they could remember. In that shabby semi-basement apartment, the family struggles to survive. Working low-paying gigs like folding pizza boxes, even then they were critiqued by how badly the pizza boxes were folded and nearly lost their only income.
It was not long after then that Ki-woo’s friend Min-hyuk visits the family and brought food as well asa gave them a large rock as a gift. As Ki-woo and Min-hyuk went out for their last drink together before Min-hyuk has to leave to study abroad, he explained that the rock would bring luck, wealth and prosperity.
Alongside that, Min-hyuk also suggested for Ki-woo to take over his job as an English tutor for the wealthy Park family. At first after hearing that offer, Ki-woo felt that he wouldn’t be qualified to tutor English, especially for a family as wealthy as the Park’s. However after some more coaxing from Min-hyuk, Ki-woo decided to give it a try.
In the lavish state of art Park mansion, Ki-woo was hired by Mrs. Park to tutor her daughter Da-hye after giving her a free trial lesson. While Mrs. Park was showing Ki-woo around the mansion, he learnt that she was struggling to find an art teacher for her younger child, Da-song. It was right at that moment where an idea struck Ki-woo, and he suggested a “professional” named Jessica, who in reality is his sister Ki-jeong.
Gifted with a sharp mind, Ki-woo’s sister Ki-jeong quickly jumped onto the opportunity and presented herself as a quirky and eccentric art teacher to the Park family. She played her part as a “professional” art teacher so well, she even unknowingly pinned down the –– according to Mrs. Park –– trauma behind Da-song’s painting that shaped Da-song into the weird kid that he was.
Once Ki-jeong was hired, the Kim family’s plan was put into motion. She singlehandedly schemed and strategized ways to get Mr. Park’s driver fired and replaced him “Uncle Kim”, who was her father. Not long after, she too got the housekeeper Moon-kwang fired, with Chong-sok hired in her place, employing the entire Kim family.
And just what exactly is the Kim family’s plan after this?
3 Words to Sum Up Parasite :
Enticing, Eye Opening, Captivating
Regarding anything bookish and filmy, 2019 has been a quite mellow and quiet year for me. For some reason that I couldn’t fathom, I have not been motivated and didn’t have the attention span to pay attention to a movie without pausing several times or even finishing a book within a week’s time.
So it is quite an understatement to say that “Parasite” has singlehandedly lit that fire back up in me. As not long after I finish that movie by Bong Joon-ho, my hands are itching to pick up my kindle and start reading, as my mind are dying to be stimulated. For a movie –– something that is only 2 hours long –– to have this effect on me, is mind boggling to say the least. Just what exactly is it about Parasite that could have this kind of lasting impact not only on me, but on many of its viewers as well?
Just by watching the trailer alone, one would have absolute zero idea as to what Parasite by Bong Joon-ho was about. Was it comedy, thriller, sob story, or all three in one?
It started off with the Kim family living in their semi-basement apartment, and scraping for food to get by. However, situation quickly changes once the whole family was under the employment of the wealthy Park family. Now that the family have good paying and cushy jobs, questions started popping into the viewers’ minds. Is this enough? Is just “technically living” with the Parks enough for them? Sure, at first, the Kim family had to struggle to even put food on the table, but it sure is not the case anymore now.
Not to mention, the Kim family quite literally run the mansion. If say, they want to plan a sudden mass murder on the entire Park family and hide them under that bunker of a basement that most wealthy families have and live off their live in that gorgeous mansion, who says they can’t do so?
Class Difference Between the Poor and the Wealthy
One thing that is shown in a very stark comparison is the class difference between the poor and the wealthy. While some of it are metaphorical, a lot of it are obvious as well.
There have been a handful of times in the movie, where Mr. Park would complain about “Uncle Kim’s” smell. Saying that he smelled like an undried clothes, and that his odor was so strong that it even permeated through the driver’s seat and into the backseat. This is to say that, the rich are mostly oblivious to the struggles and sufferings of the poor. Thanks to their comfortable lifestyle and them constantly striving for bigger and better things, the difficulties of the poor was not taken into consideration at all.
That was just one of the many examples of the class difference between the two. Despite that however, Bong Joon-ho seems to know how to craft the storyline just so, that the viewers cannot truly blame the rich either. Sure, it is heartbreaking to see how so many people out there in the world fight against poverty, but that problem is not to blame on the rich.
Simply because a lot of them (the rich), are not deliberately trying to be mean or cruel. They are just simply ignorant to those who are way less fortunate than them as they go about their lives and planning for bigger and better future.
The Park Family
The Park family I might say, is an apt representation of the rich and wealthy. Sure, in a movie one would expect there to be a protagonist and antagonist. And of course, most of the time, protagonist would surely be the minority or the less powerful. While that case holds true in Parasite with the poor Kim family, I wouldn’t count the Parks as antagonists.
Simply, they didn’t come to attain whatever wealth it is that they do without hard work and sacrifices. The Parks live in a bubble of monetary security and comfort, and like almost always calls to like. So with their lifestyle, it is only logical to see them also being friends and hanging out with other wealthy people as well and basing their networks and future reference from there.
Sure, they might seem very ignorant to the people outside of their bubble’s pain and struggles, but quite honestly, that is a lot of us as well. Even the middle class people have their own bubble and ignore a lot of the rest. The poor have the tendency to blame to rich on their struggles and poverty, and while it might be true to some extent, I don’t think the rich should take all the burn for it. However, we all know there is no right or wrong to this answer as its all opinion based. In the end, it’s all perspective.
Odd Atmosphere Surrounding Parasite
I don’t know if this is just me, but there is just an overall weird atmosphere throughout the movie. Mostly from the Park family itself, who could have just been an eccentric family for all I know. And also from the Kim Ki-taek, the father of the Kim family who looks like he could murder someone without batting an eye.
Not only that, the way certain scenes were shot and how the soundtracks flowed in to further enhance the odd yet hypnotizing vibe of the whole movie –– whether or not if it was intentional –– was something that I need to give Bong Joon-ho props for, among many other things.
A very interesting, thought provoking movie. Truly, I have never watched anything like this before in my life, and Bong Joon-ho totally nailed it to the t. Cinematography, plot, characters, soundtracks, everything was magnificent.
The message that he wanted to convey on the difference between the one flirting with poverty and the one living comfortably, was done very subtly in a lighthearted way while at the same time having a lasting effect on its viewers. Things such as : if they were poor, can’t they just work harder? is a question that have probably passed our minds while watching this movie.
However it was shown that life just isn’t as black and white as everyone thought it to be. So many things are lurking, living and breathing in the grey areas. Sure, there might be plans in place, and then there are also things that we do to make sure that those plans succeed, however life doesn’t really go in a straight line. With that said, the answer to that question could very simply be famous saying that most of us would have heard : “It is not what you know, but who you know”.
“You know what kind of plan that never fails? No plan. No plan at all.
You know why? Because life cannot be planned.”