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Parasite is a movie that will resonate all over the world

This article is over 4 years, 4 months old
This film from Korea is winning plaudits as a strange, well-made dark comedy. But more than that, writes Irang Bak, its message about inequality is universal
Issue 2690
Life in a lower ground floor flat
Life in a lower ground floor flat

This dark comedy film directed by Bong Joon-ho is about a poor family infiltrating a wealthy household.

Through well-knitted cinematography, Bong tells a thrilling story of two families to show social and ­spatial inequality.

The cinematic setting is indeed very Korean. The “lower ground floor” flat the family live in has a particular meaning in Korean society.

Many Koreans can relate to that flat, with its smell of mould, its lack of sunlight and its unsafe conditions.

Even if you’ve got no experience of such housing yourself, you can still feel and smell it from the images on screen. It’s a sharp contrast to luxurious mansion of the rich family.

The characters struggle daily to cope with economic inequality and poor living conditions with dark humour.

But that reaches its peak with a flood that strikes the household. This is where the class division is revealed in its most crude form.


A desperate race begins from the house of the rich on the hill, downwards to a totally different neighbourhood. Down the long stairs, through the tunnels and finally reaching the lower ground floor.

You don’t have to be familiar with the peculiarities of Korean society to appreciate this film.

What Parasite highlights is the appalling level of inequality in every society, which no one can turn away from.

Perhaps that’s why this film is already garnering widespread acclaim. It has already seized the Palme d’Or along with multiple ­international film awards.

There’s also speculation about whether it can be the first ever ­non-English language film to win the Oscar for best picture.

The issues the movie shows are universal, and fitting of a world witnessing sweeping revolts and uprisings.

Revolutions and protests that removed decades-long dictators last year in Algeria and Sudan were built on the back of similar inequalities and resentments.

It is the poor and the have-nots who suffer the largest blow from ­natural disasters as we can see from the floods in Indonesia.

The movie reminds us that it is not the rich and the powerful who pay for the consequences of global warming.

Bong has created a powerful, humorous film that lets us touch, smell, and taste the details of lives of the people of a world in revolt and crisis.

Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-ho, is in cinemas from Friday 7 February

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