‘Parasite’ embeds itself in the minds of viewers | Sunday Observer

‘Parasite’ embeds itself in the minds of viewers

7 March, 2021

In modern times, it is practically a challenge to find a film that explicates different themes rather than normal everyday themes. “Parasite”, is a movie that contains various designated points which created history in Hollywood by chance. Its remarkable symbols, unforgettable characters and significant plot embeds itself in the minds of viewers.

Directed by the famous South Korea director Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite falls under the genre of black-comedy thriller. The film portrays two typical families, a poor family and a wealthy family living in South Korea.

It focuses on how poor people are treated by the surrounding society. Unlike many other thriller pictures, “Parasite” expresses an optimistic message. It also shows a huge tension among the two classes, at times using just a couple of words. Critics have praised Bong Joon-Ho’s screenplay for marking the crisis plus climax in the film.

The plot deals about the Kim and Park families, the latter is wealthy whereas the other is poor. “Poor” doesn’t mean to be that they are at the extreme. This family consists of Kim Ki-Taek the father, mother Chung-Sook, eldest and only son Kim Ki-Woo, and the youngest daughter Kim Ki-Jung.

The Kim’s live in a semi-basement apartment with low-pay temporary jobs as pizza box folders. However, things change with the arrival of Ki-Woo’s well-to-do friend Min-Hyuk who gives a scholar stone as he’s about to move abroad.

Nevertheless, Min-Hyuk asks his friend to take over his job of teaching English to the only daughter of the Park family. To which Ki-Woo responds happily. After forging several education documents he is soon hired by the Parks for tutoring.

Each of the Kim family members start poking into the Park family in cunning ways. The father is hired as a qualified driver, meanwhile Ki-Jung pretends as Jessica, an art therapist for Da-Song, the Park family’s young son.

The mother is also taken in as the housekeeper. The Kim’s become successful in interfering with the household of the Parks. This interference is complicated but at the same time interesting as the Kim’s are introduced to the wealthy family as unrelated to each other. Over the next few days or weeks things continue peacefully. However, the plot enters a climax, when the Park family leaves on a camping trip. During this period, the poor family make merry at the home of the wealthy family, not worrying about the consequences that may occur later.

Former housekeeper

Suddenly, the earlier housekeeper of the Parks returns insisting that she has left something important in the basement. The former housekeeper Moon-Gwang enters a hidden underground bunker not knowing that she’s being followed by the other four.

Soon the reason for such a bunker is revealed, Moon-Gwang’s husband Oh Geun-Sae has been living in the bunker for four years or more to escape loan payments. Getting to know this, Chung-Sook threatens to reveal the truth. However, at the same time the Kim family’s cover is blown away. Which is filmed by Moon-Gwang to threaten them. This commotion doesn’t last long due the early arrival of the Parks as a severe rainstorm terminates the camping trip.

Before their arrival, Ki-Taek is able to capture Geun-Sae and Moon-Gwang and keep them underground. After a huge struggle Ki-Taek, Ki-Jung and Ki-Woo are able to escape from the house. Chung-Sook stays behind as she’s the housekeeper. On reaching home, they find their basement flooded with sewage water, and are forced to spend the night at the gymnasium with other displaced people. Ignoring what they are facing at the moment, the family moves on with their respective work the next day.


Unexpectedly, the Parks throw a grand house party in order to celebrate Da-Song’s birthday. During the party, Ki-Woo enters the bunker clinging to the scholar’s stone. Upon his entry he learns that the former housekeeper had died the night before.

That makes Geun-Sae’s anger rise. Geun-Sae attacks Ki-Woo as he sees just a glimpse of him. Ki-Woo is knocked over by Geun-Sae with the use of Scholar stone and lies still in a pool of blood.

Seeking revenge for his wife’s death, he storms into the kitchen, picks a knife, gets outside into the party, finally stabbing Ki-Jung. Seeing Ki-Jung bleeding, her mother takes a barbecue skewer and kills Geun-Sae. Watching all these results in Da-Song’s sudden seizure. At the moment Ki-Taek, who is helping Chung-Sook to stop blood flowing from Ki-Jung’s wound is ordered by Mr. Park to drive Da-Song to hospital. The tension overall makes Ki-Taek kill him. At the end he flees leaving the rest of the Kim family behind.

The film’s last minutes shows Ki-Woo healing from brain surgery. After a few weeks he and Chung-Sook are convicted for fraud, meanwhile Mr. Kim is wanted by police for Mr. Park’s murder but isn’t found. Ki-Jung had died on spot.

Later the son keeps watch on the Parks’ home from afar. The house is sold to a German family. Ki-Taek had escaped to the bunker through the garage on that day. Every day he flickers a light, in order to create a Morse code hoping Ki-Woo would see it. Woo sees it. The Ffilm ends on a note with Ki-Woo pledging to buy the house one day with his own money.


Approaching the film through literature, the use of symbols is a very important factor that Joon-Ho uses to bring out differences in the class-based society which creates conflict.

The movie’s title is itself symbolic. A parasite grammatically means an animal or plant which lives on another organism. The title ‘PARASITE’” shows two contrasting meanings.

The first being how poor people depend on the rich for money while the other being how the rich depend on poor for labour. Parasites are very harmful to the organism at times. The word metaphorically expresses how both the low and the rich family becomes a parasite to each other including the society they live in.

The first real symbol we can notice from the film is the dwelling of the Kims. The Kim family resides in a semi-basement house. Many South Koreans refer to the semi-basement houses as “Hell” because they are mostly dusty, and dirty.

The next symbol is by far considered the best and also the most important repeating unit in the movie. The Scholar Stone gifted by Min-Hyuk depicts an extra ordinary unit throughout the story. Used as an immediate motif to show Ki-Woo’s determination as well as obsession.

Scholar Stones or Viewing Stones known as Suseok in Korea, are derived from stones similar to Chinese Gongshi and Japanese Suisek. They are collectives, mostly owned by the rich class. Scholar stones share various meanings. But here Min-Hyuk brings it in as a lucky sign for the family.

As a motif, the object is shown in the movie on three specific occasions. First when it is introduced, the stone depicts courage along with the determination Ki-Woo has to find a job in order to have money.

First time

In the screenplay, as he sets eyes on the stone for the first time, he says “How Perfect for us. Symbolic” the character himself tributes it to be a symbol in his life. As the story flows, the second time we see this motif is when the Kims throw a party for the acceptance of Ki-Woo as a tutor by the Park Family.

The last time we are able to see the stone is when the Kims’ apartment is flooded with sewage water. Ki-Woo is moving around packing a minor amount of essentials, when the stone recurs in the deep water. Beginning with a good start, forging documents, getting the job and lastly losing all they have because of greediness. The viewing stone pops up at different times to show the life of the poor class, the pathetic nature and why they must not be greedy.

Han Ji Woo who co-wrote the screenplay with the director objectifies the feature as a stairway film to express how vital stairways have become in the movie internally. Stairways depict the rise and decline in classes.

This wealthy house depicts spacious, clean and modernized style trending in Asian countries. Which is used to enhance the fact for the themes “Modernization”, “Westernization”.

Tiny details

The film uses small, tiny details to express diverse ideas. One of these symbolic encounters is smell. Smell brings out a lot within the story. The major image of smell shows the bond among family members. One time ‘smell’ appears in the film is when Da-Song rushes down for his father’s arrival “Da-Song suddenly starts sniffing the air. He runs over to Chung-Sook and shoves his nose in her belly, startling her greatly. Da-Song then darts over to Ki-Taek and shoves his nose in his pant leg.”. This scene from the film is highly memorable. The connectivity amongst the smell of the family members are brought out with the help of a few sentences.

The perfect establishment of symbolism in the film to portray general themes as well as ideas is truly exemplary thanks to Han Ji-Woo and Bong-Joon Ho.

Nevertheless, the cast too has taken effort when objectifying the respective roles. The viewer often gets confused when choosing the main character in the flow. Many guess it to be Ki-Taek, while others think it is Ki-Woo. Well, actually Ki-Taek does have a lot of profile, but Ki-Woo is the ultimate main character. Ki-Woo is brought to life by Choi-Woo Shik who has experience in many other remarkable roles. Choi-Woo Shik’s natural acting was highly praised.

The character may seem cunning and opportunistic, but his character evolves due to the passion he has to move through in life.

Ki-Woo is, therefore, kind of imitating Min-Hyuk. For him the scholar stone is Min-Hyuk. Although Min-Hyuk isn’t physically present, the object is a living memory of him.

The next most significant character by approach is the father of the Kim family. Namely Kim Ki-Taek, He’s a relatively large man in size of around 60.

Ki-Taek’s character is complex and complicated rather than Ki-Woo’s, even though the latter is considered as the main character. Ki-Taek is a different personality.

To sum everything up, Parasite is truly a unique movie including the backfires of themes like “gap among the social classes”, “Modernization” etc.

Bong-Joon Ho’s extreme skill as a director and a screenplay writer is immense which, therefore, resulted in a great Oscar-winning film like “Parasite”.