…but what is director Bong Joon Ho saying about morals and money?
The first half of director Ho’s Parasite might as well be called We Found Paradise. The poor Kim family live in a major city in Korea, and their basement apartment is truly pathetic. The two parents, Mr. and Mrs. Kim, daughter, Ki-jung, and son, Ki-woo are a seemingly, traditional 4 person nuclear family, except that they are all serious con artists. Parasite begins with Ki-woo talking to his friend about tutoring a younger but very affluent teenage girl for college entrance exams. She is the eldest of… you guessed it, another nuclear family, also comprised of two parents, a boy and a girl.
The comparisons stop there.
The rich Park family – the Mom, the Dad, the girl, Da-hye, and then a young boy, Da-song, live in a house designed by a famous architect that moved out and sold the house to the Parks four years prior.
A maid/nanny came with the house and she seems harmless enough, but she is actually hiding her husband from tax evasion in the sub-basement. Eventually, the Kims stumble upon him and there is a fantastic, brutally violent brawl between the poor couple and the poor family as to who gets to be the servants in the house. Quickly, the whole thing escalates into a climactic multiple murder scene in which no one wins. The Parks leave.
And Mr. Kim replaces the deceased husband as the creepy man to go live in the sub-basement now to hide from the authorities.
So yes, another Oscar movie with a horrific, disgusting, slash ‘em, bloodbath, screaming finale (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, anyone?) but what haunts me?
Midway through Parasite, Mr. Kim is giving Mr. Park a ride home on a rainy night which looks like it was a long day for the rich businessman. Mr. Park is relaying a detail about one of Mrs.Park’s idiosyncrasies. Mr. Kim asks if he still loves her. Mr. Park laughs loudly.
In moments before the murderous climax, Mr. Kim and Mr. Park are preparing to do an impromptu skit for little Da-song for him at his birthday party. Mr. Park gives him the crude yet simply fun stage directions as per his wife, and again, how all of this silly detail is his wife’s idea. Again, Mr. Kim asks if he loves her. This time Mr. Park’s brow furrows and he gets irritated with Mr. Kim.
Why does Mr. Kim question whether or not Mr. Park loves his wife?
Mr. Kim appears to be not only impoverished in his poor lifestyle, but in his heart.
Does your social class shape your definition of love? How does your spending reflect your values?
I reflect back on the Kims’ poverty…the best means they had for quick cash was to fold 1000’s of pizza boxes…that a drunk man regularly peed on what is supposed to be their front porch or window…when the entire family engages in a fight-to-the-death with the other servants over who can work for the Parks… and can assume that they have sunken to a class lower than any dollar amount.