Greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan.
21-st Century, South Korea
- Bong Joon Ho is a South Korean director. His film “Parasite” won “Palme d’Or” at 72nd Cannes Film Festival . He is the first Korean director to win the Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix. In addition, in 2020, Joon Ho’s film won four Oscars in the following nominations: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film. It should be noted that “Parasite” is the first foreign language film in the history of the Academy Awards to win Best Picture.
- Korea was a Japanese colony from 1910-1945. After World War II, Korea became an independent country and split in two. In 1950, with the help of the Soviet Union and China, North Korea invaded the South and launched the “Korean War,” which ended in 1953. There is still a communist-dictatorial regime in the North, and in South Korea is a democracy.
- South Korea is the most developed country in East Asia according to the Human Development Index. A large part of the citizens enjoy a very high quality of life (salary, healthcare, business). The country’s economy is $ 1.6 trillion. Population 52 million. The country’s top priority is technology, with 2013 data showing that 13 out of every 1,000 people employed in Korea were scientists.
- A country whose economy is growing by geometric progression is at the same time a clear example of class inequality.
- In 2018, Netflix sponsored Bong Joon Ho to shoot the film “Okja”. Film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, but for the director, this work was unsuccessful. In 2019, the director returns to South Korea and creates one of the most important works in the history of modern cinema, “Parasite”.
- What does the title of the movie “Parasite” mean, who is meant by this word: the poor Kim family, the rich family of the Parks, or both?
- In the film we find a mirror image of the characters: the Kim family – mother, father, daughter, son. This is exactly the composition of the Parks family. Do you think this is a coincidence, if it has a special meaning for the director?
- People in distress usually have high hopes for a better future. At the beginning of the film, despite the extreme hardships, what is the existence of the Kim family and their general mood?
- In the movie, everything changes when one of the family members get offer to become a teacher in a rich family. He falsifies his diploma and an endless chain of lies begins… How justified is this behavior to you? Was there an alternative?
- If we divide film into several parts/stories and to attribute them to specific genres. what can be culmination of the film and what is the genre of “Parasite”?
- When and how does the genre change from comedy to tragedy, when does the “ideal plan” of a poor family fail?
- There are many symbols or visuals in the film, which are an essential attribute of a poor family (or a rich family). The director focuses on a specific human smell in the film. The “smell of poor” is annoying for rich, recall the episodes from the film where this topic is emphasized.
- It is raining heavily in the city after a thunderstorm, if for the rich it is just rain, it will cause a loss of housing for the poor. How do they fight the disaster? How much does this episode show the fight to save the Kim family? Why does the director treat his characters like that?
- The modern world, in this case South Korea is divided into a space of rich and poor. The reality reflected in “Parasite” can be said is accurately represents the situation in the country. Why do you think people become poor or, conversely, how do they become rich? What determines wealth: family, education, job, system or the person himself/herself?
Write about this film
“Parasite” is the story of a poor family that becomes a servant of a rich – this is the plot of the movie. However, beyond the seemingly simple storyline, a completely different world unfolds in the film. How the hierarchy between the characters changes after finding the person in the basement? When writing about, try to go beyond a simple plot. Focus on the characters, not only on their plan to penetrate the luxurious living space and in some way take over the lives of others, but also on their motivation. This is how the director describes the film – funny, horrible and sad! While writing, try to focus on the peculiarities of the genre as well. How acceptable is ending for you?
For Individual work
Using epoch-making contexts, find out more about South Korea. Think about the reason why one of the richest countries in the world is a direct conductor of the reality reflected in “Parasite”. Why do people get rich or vice versa, why do people get poor. Why is the world still divided into two opposite poles. What do you think is the reason for such inequality. Look for countries like South Korea with economic development and generalize your opinion on the example of different countries in the world. Think of a movie or literary work that addresses a topic / problem in the movie.
Group work/additional activities
Curriculum links: Geography, History, Civic Education
It is desirable if you discuss with the teacher the current social, political, economic events in the modern world, particularly in East Asia. Discuss what capitalism is and what types of changes have taken place in the South Korean state recently, how have these processes determined the future of the population? “Parasite” literally starts from the window of a poor family living space, the subtitles are read on the glass. It is as if the director introduces us to poverty in this way. According to the director: “Semi-basement housing is an integral part of the lives of poor people in Korea. However, being half in the basement also means being half above the ground. ” Do you agree with this statement? Considering the epoch-making contexts, discuss with the group what it means to be “above ground” or, conversely, how difficult it is to live in “half-land”.
After discussion and group work, students can visualize the narrative material. Create a wall newspaper or presentation where you present South Korea in economic, political, social and cultural viewpoints.
As a result of watching the film, discussion and writing a review in which it is necessary to use epoch-making contexts and the above recommendations, students will learn more about the modern Korea as well as the work of Bong Joon Ho.