Bong Joon Ho displays his extraordinary film-making talent in ‘Parasite’

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Cho Yeo-Jeong falls into a frightening trap in "Parasite"

Justin Choi, Staff Writer

If you enjoy deep and unique stories that will make you laugh and feel fear at the same time, “Parasite” is the movie for you. 

Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” is a comedy-thriller, proving it’s genre title through its exaggerated narrative and significant elements of satire. This is shown through the extreme lengths and decisions people of poverty will act on in order to survive in a modern South Korea. 

The story is about the financially poor Kim family, who exploits the weaknesses of the wealthy Park family in order to obtain their trust and their money. Those weaknesses which the film suggests are the shallow process of which they develop trust for someone as well as the significant difference in their conception of society compared to the Kim family. 

The exploitation occurs when the Kims decide to infiltrate the Parks’ lives by taking on the image of trustworthy workers. Specifically, an English tutor, an art therapist, a personal driver, and a housekeeper. Though they do not meet any of the actual requirements to professionally serve as these positions, they utilize their strong intelligence to play the part. Their gain: receiving very generous pay checks. This gain is the drive behind the comedic, clever, and extreme decisions of these characters, in which they do whatever they can in order to push their false identities and gain the Parks’ full trust.

But the emphasis in this film is not only centered on those decisions, it explores the context of these decisions, and the emotions of the poor family. The audience gets to understand the reason that these actions are committed. This exploration is consistent throughout the entire film, beautifully displayed in subtle metaphors, irony, and symbolic entities.  

For example, the beginning of the story shows an ornamental stone that is gifted to the Kims, said to bring them “material wealth.” This stone never leaves the side of the family, appearing everywhere the family goes to. The stone was a symbol of their relentless pursuit to the end goal of material wealth. But this stone ultimately becomes the bloody downfall of the family.

“Parasite’s” extreme factor is not limited to the decisions of the main characters, it is also characterized by a critical event in the rising action of the plot which dramatically turns the story from a comedy to a thriller. 

 The film does such a great job capturing a variety of ways to present the idea of class division and poverty. It gives viewers a comedic, emotional, and frighteningly realistic perspective on this one topic, which is all mended together so smoothly, guiding the emotions of the audience — without trying to sway the audience towards a strong political or social statement. The story does not demonize or heroize the characters, it displays real attitudes of different people in society, and gives them a fair presentation through showing the context of each person’s lives. 

“Parasite’” has a well-deserved 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, was the first South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and according to The Washington Post, “‘Parasite’ is considered an overwhelming favorite to win the Oscars’ international prize.”

“Parasite” is now playing in Theaters.