Parasite—Climbing the Social Ladder


Source: Wikimedia Commons

Parasite’s iconic movie poster featuring the mother and father from the rich family and the son and father from the poor family.

Dana Kim, Editor-in-Chief and Staff Writer

“Parasite” is an award-winning film that captivated audiences worldwide. A Korean film, directed by Bong Joon-ho, shares the story of two families from opposite social classes, the Kims and the Parks. Throughout this roller-coaster film, viewers can understand the satire of social division that exists behind the thrilling and bone-chilling storyline.

In the opening of the film, people can see the poor Kim family living in a semi-basement style home. Jobless, and wanting to relish in the Parks’ luxury, the family of four forges their identity and manages to all work for the rich Parks as an English tutor, art therapist, chauffeur and housekeeper. What seems to be a comedic story about a family scheme soon turns into something more thrilling. Arcane secrets start to unfold as the Parks leave for a family trip to celebrate their little boy’s birthday.

Bong uses symbolism and irony throughout the film to portray his views on social satire and the downfalls of human greed. In one scene, after the Parks return from their trip due to the pouring rain, viewers can observe the young boy in his toy replica of a native American tent, also known as a tipi. Pouring rain doesn’t bother the young child as he continues to amuse himself inside the tent without even getting wet. The Parks are slightly annoyed their trip had to be cut short, but it is just a mild inconvenience for them. Meanwhile, across town, the Kims’ home is being flooded, as it is partly located underground. By the time they rush back home, the water has already reached their waists. As everything they own is being swept away in front of their eyes, the family feels desperate, yet hopeless and powerless. 

During an interview with The Atlantic, Bong explained, “Semi-basement means you’re half above the ground, half beneath it. They still want to believe that they’re over ground, but carry this fear that they could fall completely below. It’s that limbo state that reflects their economic status.” 

“Parasite” began to receive more attention internationally as the film was nominated for major awards. In the 2020 Academy Awards, the movie was nominated for six categories and won four of them, including “Best Picture.” The night of the award ceremony was a historic night for it was the first time a non-English language film won “Best Picture.” To add on, “Parasite” also won awards from the Golden Globes, Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and numerous other honorable recognitions from around the world. 

Many critics claimed Parasite was “a masterpiece,” “flawless,” “miracle of a film” and one of the best movies of the year. Ms. Gardea, a student-teacher at McAuliffe, was so captivated by this picture that she watched it three times! She mentioned that the movie was wonderfully directed but was also very different from other movies she had seen before. Gardea mentioned that directors usually do not include class commentaries because it is a controversial issue. However, she believes Bong Joon-ho was able to share social issues in a meaningful way and believes it made the movie more entertaining and thought-provoking.

If you haven’t watched this sardonic, tragicomedy motion picture, don’t look for any more reviews, summaries, critics or trailers. On “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” Bong asserted, “I’d like to say as little as possible here because the film is best when you go into it cold.” Being clueless about the film will make “Parasite” even more intriguing and mind-blowing than it already is.