Parasite. As defined by a quick google search, the word is a noun, and is “an organism that lives in or on an organism of another species (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense.” Most people will tend to look towards fleas or lice as an example of a parasite. You might be surprised to find out that more than just bugs can be parasitic in nature.
Meet Bong Joon-ho’s latest story, unabashedly entitled “Parasite.” The class struggles that are present in this movie are a universal problem no matter where you live, and no matter what background you come from. Many different family values are also shown between the main families in this film. The Kim family, who struggle to make ends meet in their basement home folding pizza boxes for not much money, and the Park family, who have their own chauffeur and maid, and live in a mansion in a different area of their town. The son of the Kim family, Ki-woo, becomes the tutor of the daughter Park Da-hye, and poses as a University student, “Kevin,” in order to provide for his family. One by one, the family must find a way to infiltrate their way into the Park household without revealing their true identities. Ki-woo’s sister, Kim Ki-jung, becomes an art therapy teacher to the youngest of the Park clan, Park Da-song. Their parents, Kim Ki-taek and Chung-sook become the Park family’s new chauffeur and maid, respectively. Similar to how a Parasite infiltrates the host, the family slowly enters the Park home one by one, very slowly until they are all there to leech off of them. The Kims will soon learn that the Park’s perfect family image might not be all that it seems.
This movie made history by being the very first South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, and the first non-English speaking movie to win the Best Picture award in all of the Academy’s history at the 2020 Oscars Awards Ceremony.
Parasite has opened the doors to many new pieces of South Korean works that become a name for themselves in mainstream United States media. Netflix’s 2021 release “Squid Game,” became a smash hit overnight. The brutal game show might not have had the success that it did if it wasn’t for “Parasite” capturing the public eye as largely as it did.
It has taken me much too long to finally get around to viewing this movie. At first I was very confused about the plot while I watched the trailer to the film. For those that might have similar struggles, I would just go into the movie without having watched it, or to not let it discourage you. It will truly suck you in for every moment the film has to offer you. Although the Kim family is lying and deceiving the Park family, you cannot help but cheer them on throughout the movie and be so thankful as they continue to make more and more money for themselves. It is very common in Seoul, the city that the film takes place in, for people to live in basements rather than above ground houses or apartments. These are called “Banjiha,” and go for about $453 a month, according to BBC.com. Thousands of South Koreans live in these homes. In the movie, you see that the family does not have much room to sit together at the dinner table, let alone room to go to the bathroom, as their toilet is perched on top of these steps in the restroom.
You see, in contrast to the Kims, the Park family can almost not function as a family without people working for them and doing things for them. In the movie after the maid is fired, and before Chung-sook takes over, the family has no idea what they are going to eat for dinner, as if they cannot make their own meals for themselves. The Kims wonder everyday how they are going to eat or even pay their rent every month. Each family has very different values and things of importance to them.
Parasite is a hauntingly beautiful piece of work that has captured the dangers that greed and poverty can lead you to.
Vanessa Rodriguez-Mclean is a fourth year media and culture major with a minor in journalism.