Parasite: A Tragic Meeting Between Two Families

By Thymen Wijma | March 15, 2020

Parasite: A Tragic Meeting Between Two Families

Parasite is a South-Korean movie from 2019, with a rather dark twist by director Bong Joon-ho. The movie is critically acclaimed and is very popular. This movie is in Korean, with a little bit of English intertwined with it.  The story, however, is quite tragic. 

The movie touches upon interesting themes, it clearly explores the gap between the rich and poor in South-Korea. It is a recurring theme. The central person in this story is a young man called Ki-Woo Kim, he lives with his parents and sister in a small basement apartment. There is no Wi-Fi in this apartment, and they are struggling to pay the bills. Through an old friend from school, Ki-Woo is able to get a job with a rich family, the family Park, as a tutor for their teenage daughter. 

The Two Families

From this point forward, the storyline of the two families become more and more intertwined. The payment significantly helps the family get back on their feet. Ki-Jung, Ki-Woo’s sister, poses as “Jessica” and becomes an art teacher for the Parks. After the interference of Ki-Woo, another job position opens at the Park family. The position of the driver is now available, and the siblings train their dad to become Mr. Park’s driver. Following this success, there is only one position left in the house that is not taken by a Kim family member. The position of housekeeper is taken by Moon-Gwang, who also worked for the previous owner of the house.  By making clever use of Ms. Moon-gwang’s peach allergy, the mother, Ms. Kim is hired as the new housekeeper. The whole family Kim now is in the employment of the Park family, having a significantly higher living standard than before. However, the Park family does not know that their employees are all related, and think they hired independent professionals. This situation leads to an interesting game, were in the Parks residence, the Kim’s act like strangers, while at home they are a family once more. They slowly integrate into the Parks family life, they are “parasites.”

A Stark Division

The economic background of the two families cannot be more different. The difference between the two families becomes more clear as the story progresses. A clear contrast is shown when a storm hits the city. The apartment of the Kim’s is flooded, forcing the family to stay at a gymnasium to find shelter. The lower-income area where the Kim’s reside is badly damaged by the storm, the Parks residence, on the other hand, had no damage of the storm. And since it is their youngest son’s birthday, the Parks are throwing a birthday party the next day. And after a rough night at the gymnasium, the Kim’s have to attend this party as employees. This example shows a clear divide between the two families, they have their priorities at completely different things at that moment. The economic status of the Park family secures them from dangers the Kim family has to endure. The Park family seem to be oblivious to the lives of their employees outside of their residence.

The Twist

Besides making a stark division between the two families, there is also another interesting second storyline. However, to explain the exact twist in the movie would be a shame. It is so well incorporated that it was one of my favorite aspects of the movie. The twist changes everything for the Kim family. But all good things come to an end, but the ending of this movie was unexpected, to say the least. 

A Must-See

Even though I won’t elaborate on the “twist,” this movie is a must-see. The interesting part of this movie is that it is in Korean, instead of English, which is important for the portrayal of South-Korean culture. The clear social inequality and class difference between the two families is finely interwoven with the storyline. The intertwinement of the two families is fascinating and is slow at the beginning but becomes more intense and disastrous, as the difference becomes visible, near the end. The dire situation of the Kim’s contrasts with the indifference of the Park’s. The twist you will have to see for yourself, but the story of Parasite is very much worth it.

Watch the trailer here: