By Kenny Lo
A black comedy or satire that plays with the division between social classes in South Korean culture is the result of this brilliantly crafted masterpiece, “Parasite,” by director Bong Joon Ho. With just the right amount of dry humor, the film masterfully sheds some light into some of the norms and taboos that linger in our global society.
“Parasite” is a story about two families from opposite ends of the social-class spectrum: the poverty-stricken Kim family and the affluent Park family. We first encounter the Kim family dwelling in a half-basement type of apartment that is commonplace in South Korean urban areas.
Tapping neighbors’ Wi-Fi in the apartment, folding pizza boxes for cash or keeping the windows open during public (albeit dangerous) fumigations for free disinfectants are a few things the Kim family does in order to get by.
But despite a destitute lifestyle, the Kim family has aspirations in life.
Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, the Kim son, Ki-woo (Choi Woo Shik), ends up getting hired as a tutor for the wealthy Park family’s oldest daughter, Da-hye (Jung Ziso). Soon after, he gets his sister, Ki-jung (Park So Dam), a job as an art teacher for the youngest Park son, Da-song (Jung Hyun-jun).
Not long after, the Kim father, Ki-taek (Song Kang Ho), and the mother, Chung-sook (Chang Hyae Jin), replace both the driver for the Park patriarch, Dong-ik (Lee Sun Kyun), and the housekeeper who helps out the stay-at-home mom, Yeon-kyo (Cho Yeo Jeong).
Unbeknownst to the Park family, the new household servants (the entire Kim family) invade like a parasite, and fully infiltrate its host.
Just when we think we know where this film is headed, the audience gets thrown a curve ball that threatens this symbiotic relationship between the two families. Things continue to spiral out of control as the Kim family tries to keep things under wraps while preventing new and surprising elements from ruining their hard work.
The film is an absolute work of art, a tour de force in filmmaking.
The picture was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning four prizes on Feb. 2, including best picture, best director, best writing (original screenplay) and best international film.
Audiences in America can catch “Parasite” as it expands to 2,000 more locations, doubling its current number.
Korean director Bong Joon Ho, left, and the cast of “Parasite” — Choi Woo Shik, Cho Yeo Jeong, Chang Hyae Jin, Park So Dam, Lee Sun Kyun and Song Kang Ho — attend a press conference in Seoul, South Korea.