Parasite (2019), a South Korean comedy/thriller directed by veteran director Bong Joon-ho, raised a lot of eyebrows when it became the first foreign movie to win the Oscars in 2020. The movie with its core theme based on the class divide in the hyper-capitalist south Asian nation soon gained a lot of attraction. It’s not difficult to notice similar themes in his other works like Snowpiercer (2013), or Okja (2017). However, what made this movie unique was its’ use of dark comedy while challenging the traditional narrative in the portrayal of rich and poor, good and bad, moral and immoral, simultaneously asking the audiences to make their own judgment of characters.
There is not too much to look into the movie (Parasite 2019). There is a house underground, with families of not-so-nice people living their unfulfilled lives. Then there is a house on the hill with a garden and some nice-people. The not-so-nice people tend to have a peculiar smell– a smell of poverty that they are born with. And the nice people on the hill can smell it.
Also, there is a line separating the nice people and the not-so-nice people, which we see in every frame of the movie whenever they are together. No matter how tempting it is for not-so-nice people to cross those lines, there are systems that they are born into which create those lines that can neither be crossed nor erased.
Those lines are not only present in a small residential area of Seoul city, though. They are everywhere. They can be found in tiny cramped apartments of Hong Kong, suburbs of Shanghai, slums of Mumbai, or cold alleys of Kathmandu. They spread all around Asia, Africa, America, and Europe in a similar manner. People on one side of the line sell dreams to the people on the other side, who buy the dreams only to spend their whole lives grateful to be slaves. Those lines don’t go away, and there isn’t anything to be done.
Or is it? Are the lines going to stay forever? What is creating those lines? Why cannot these not-so-nice people just cross those lines by working hard? Why the people born into a system they don’t have control over, are forced to live in it their whole life? And why those lines only grow deeper with the growth of riches and luxury on one side?
Perhaps we all know the answer to these questions. Perhaps, we don’t? Or perhaps the answer isn’t as obvious as we think it is? Whatever it may be, these questions aren’t too comfortable to answer. To quote Bong Joon Ho, “We all live in the same country, called capitalism”. This masterful socio-economic critique ‘Parasite’ will keep on asking these questions for a long time to come.