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Pandemics & Parasites

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

South Korean director Bong Joon Ho’s film “Parasite” has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide, leading it to receive the Academy Award for Best Picture, the first foreign-language film to win the category. This beautifully filmed piece is an expose on the socioeconomic differences and its impacts in not just South Korea, but society as a whole.

In this production, the story follows the destitute Kim’s family that struggles to survive. One day, however, the son is employed by the wealthy Park family as a tutor, attracting the rest of the Kim clan to employ sneaky tactics upon the Parks in order to survive and eventually purely feed off the Parks, much like a parasite. The Kims and Parks form a symbiotic relationship, but soon greed and class discrimination shines upon them and threatens their balanced relationship. That is when hell starts to break loose. 

Ho’s film outlines how the working class are forced into conflict against one another, fighting for scraps, while rich families live a comfortable life, fueled by the labor of the many individuals working beneath them. In a meritocracy, success and fortune are reserved for those who deserve it--those who develop solid plans according to their talents and abilities and who execute those plans through hard work and determination. Anyone can rise to the top, and for some lucky Cinderella, plucked from the cinders and gussied up in gowns, the meritocracy represents the heights of a perfect egalitarian society: "I started with nothing and ended up with everything I ever desired; you, too, can achieve your dreams, if only you try." The promise of unobstructed sunshine at the top of the stairs, which is represented many times in the film. The Kims often find themselves climbing up those stairs and falling before they get to the top, both figuratively and literally. 

The film’s ending is very ambiguous, the ending given feels very out of place, as it seems to portray a happy ending for the Kims, finally climbing those stairs to the top. However, the story realistically does not end that way. While you want it to be the real ending, you know that it is near impossible to have that ending.   

The South Korean film is one of the most popular foreign language films ever, winning awards at the Oscars and Golden Globes. With a storyline that keeps you at the edge of your chair, Ho’s film on the toxicity within and between classes and economic opportunity is truly a must-see.

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