“Parasite” on prosperity among wealth and poverty


Suleyka Hernandez (made with Procreate)

Rich man’s abundance and poor man’s survival

*will include spoilers

In Bong Joon Ho’s 2019 film “Parasite”, Joon Ho presents to viewers the world of poverty and wealth with contrasting parallels in intricate detail. The film follows the lives of two distinct families; the Kims and the Parks. The Kims being poverty-stricken their whole lives, they set out to infiltrate the wealthy life and home of the Parks. With a bold approach to display inequity and inequality among social classes, Joon Ho’s film full of anxiety thrilling twists questions morality and ethics. Despite morally static characters who aren’t fully subjected to being villains, it is clear both families are products of the inequity and inequality we all become subject to. 

Beginning with the Kims’ genius son, he is recommended as an English tutor by a friend for the Parks’ daughter. Being that the son has had no opportunities or chances to pursue an education due to financial circumstances, he makes a fake certificate from a prestigious university to show his qualifications for the job. With this, a plan of deceit is set into motion.

After successfully fooling the Park family, the son uses persuasive words to incite need and desire to the mother recommending an art teacher for her son. The art teacher is the Kims’ daughter who will buy into this other lie as well, who is also his sister. However, the Kims’ decide to keep their family ties a secret. Presenting herself as a woman of exclusivity and limited time, the Parks’ wealthy mother sees this as an immediate sign of high status leading to another job for the Kim family. 

Racking in good money for once in their life, what started out as a seemingly small white lie turns into a whole con chain of the Kim family lying their way into the lives of the Park family. With the Kim family starting an elaborate lie which is crafted carefully enough to kick the current housekeeper out of the home, the mother in the Kim family implements herself as the Parks’ new housekeeper. Now with only the father left to make his way into a position for the Parks, another deceitful lie is acted upon to remove the Parks’ family driver to allow for the father of the Kim family to take on. 

The manner in which the Kim family goes about towards a life of luxury is one many viewers find absolutely bewildering. With deceit and conning, they maneuver their way into the home of the Parks all to escape their impoverished lifestyle. However, relating to current times now some can even sympathize or empathize with this family. As of lately, inflation hits many families in similar financial situations to the Kim family. 

“I think it could be related to a lot of situations happening today. Even though the movie’s depiction of the family’s struggle to get out of the financial instability is far fetched it could still be taken as people will do anything for money” said local student Vincent Robles

An article titled, “The Majority of US households are struggling due to inflation” on the World Economic Forum website states,“Unsurprisingly, inflation woes affect lower income groups disproportionately. While it’s relatively easy to shrug off price increases when it only reduces the amount of money left at the end of the month, it is much harder for people who struggled to make ends meet even before prices started surging,” 

While the Kim family continues this ruse, receiving full trust from the Park family making their family ties still unknown, a contrast in lifestyles is depicted when going back and forth between the Kims’ home and the Parks’ home. 

With the Kim family living underground in a crowded, humid abode where they barely have any room for themselves, the Park family lives in a mansion of heights and luxury. The difference in these aspects is emphasized after a harsh night of rain seems beautiful for the Park family but leaves the Kim’s neighborhood and home in a tragedy. With their home having been flooded and their things swept away, they seek shelter along with other neighbors.  

Local student, Senior Paola Vasquez shared her thoughts.

“The scene where their house had become submerged in water and the Parks’ house had seemingly gone untouched. The lower classes are always the first to suffer and drown in times of hardship,” said Vasquez.

Furthering the difference in how one class is affected compared to the other, the Park family goes on to mention how lovely the rain was making for a bright, sunny morning. In contrast, the Kim family is devastated by their losses along with others in their neighborhood negatively affected by the rain’s flooding. This mimics real-life situations where those suffering go unnoticed most of the time by those living in their own world of riches.   

Aside from this, as the film progresses taking a comedic tone to a darker one, it is discovered another struggling family had taken advantage of the jobs given by the Park family. The previous housekeeper is discovered by the Kims to have been sheltering her husband in the Parks’ basement. With a shocking revelation, the Kims and the housekeeper as well as her husband are now fighting for who gets to stay as soon as all secrets are revealed, even their family ties.

With an affluent family such as the Parks involved with two working-class families, societal stigma is bound to put them against each other in all ways. Even with both working-class families opposing each other while the Park family seemingly goes on about their lives parallels to how in society, everyone in a lower class struggles to fight to make ends meet while the rich live in peace among gardens of their stocks. 

U.S History teacher Rafael Ramos noticed how the film depicted class conflicts and clashes, 

“The way that the wealthier family lived and kind of how they looked down on the others and kind of the way that they’re pitted against each other because of their status…” said Ramos.

As “Parasite” keeps throwing twists and turns, it only becomes more evident just how tragic this film is, really putting into perspective how devastating real-life class and wealth gaps are affecting humans. 

“It just verified pretty much the ideas I already had about income inequality, the wealthy and their lifestyles compared to working-class people and their struggles and the clash that exists. We call it class conflict or social tension that is there…Some people probably saw them as the villains, the parasites, but at the same time it’s like, weren’t they just trying to achieve what we’re told they were supposed to achieve…” said Ramos.

Sharing a narrative of how clashing social classes try to coexist in a materialistic society, Joon Ho’s film becomes an eye-opener for anyone no matter the stance they have. Whether at the top or at the bottom, viewers become aware of the realities the lower classes struggle with. Not because of its theatrical depiction of means to get money, but more so simply how some people live. Meal to meal, bill to bill, or barely surviving by the cent. 

“Anytime you have a society divided by class there’s people at the top that have a lot of money and there’s people at the bottom of the pyramids that are constantly struggling. You’re always going to have that clash and tension there…in a way it’s like they have no choice but to revert to doing whatever they can to make ends meet, to provide,” said Ramos.

“If you take away the grand charade of the Kims, you have a low-income family willing to do whatever it takes to simply survive. They’re trapped in the depths of poverty where opportunities are scarce and the chances of making it out seem like one in a million,” said Vasquez.

All in all, “Parasite” offers insight into worlds unknown to each other. Introducing diamonds to rocks and rocks to diamonds, everyone learns something from this film. Whether it was how beautiful the cinematography was, how it was executed wonderfully in transitions of parallels, or class conflicts. Everyone should give this film a chance.