‘Parasite’: 5 Things to Know About the Critically-Acclaimed Foreign Language Film

Parasite: 5 Things to Know About the Foreign Language Film
So-dam Park as Ki-jung Kim and Woo-sik Choi as Ki-woo Park in 'Parasite.' Courtesy of NEON CJ Entertainment

Parasite, a South Korean social satire from filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, has received critical acclaim this awards season for its biting commentary on economic inequality. The film is nominated at the 2020 Golden Globes for Best Foreign-Language Film, Best Screenplay of a Motion Picture and Best Director of a Motion Picture. If the film’s script, which was cowritten by Joon-ho and Han Jin Won, wins best screenplay it will be the first foreign film to take home the honor.

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Parasite follows the Kims, a destitute family who form an elaborate scheme to infiltrate the wealthy household of the Parks. As the Kims rise in the ranks of the family, an unexpected incident throws both families into turmoil. The cast includes Song Kang Ho, Lee Sun Kyun, Cho Yeo Jeong, Choi Woo Shik, and Park So Dam. Parasite has received a whopping 99 percent certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film, which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, has received praise for its intricate blend of dark humor and suspense wrapped up in a twisted tale of class struggles. Joon-ho’s other notable works include Snowpiercer (2013) and Okja (2017).

Here are five things to know about Parasite.

1. The Story Was Inspired by Joon-ho’s Own Life

Choi Woo-shik (Kim Ki-woo) kicks off the story when he’s hired as an English tutor for the wealthy family’s daughter. Joon-ho told The Atlantic in October that he also had a job as a tutor and his encounters helped him form the script. “When I was in college, I tutored for a rich family, and I got this feeling that I was infiltrating the private lives of complete strangers,” he explained. “Every week I would go into their house, and I thought how fun it would be if I could get all my friends to infiltrate the house one by one.”

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2. The Original Title Was The Décalcomanie

Joon-Ho revealed to the Hollywood Reporter in May that the title The Décalcomanie was a fitting first choice for the movie’s character-driven plot. “When you look at the final results of a decalcomania or decal, both sides look identical at a first glance,” he said at the time. “But if you look at it more closely, they’re not exactly the same. This kind of explains something about these two families.”

3. The Film Was Almost a Play Instead

When Joon-ho initially planned the story, he envisioned it taking place on stage. He told The Atlantic that the set would have included the two houses side-by-side.

4. Choi Woo-shik, Song Kang-ho and Park So-dam Didn’t Know Anything About the Story Before Filming

Woo-shik, who previously starred in Okja, said Joon-ho requested he “stay in shape” while he was still filming the 2017 movie. “So I was like, ‘Oh, okay. Does he have work for me later on?'” Woo-shik recalled to Vulture in October. “But he didn’t call me after that. It was like four months later that he’s like, ‘OK, I was writing this script and I think you could play this role perfectly.’ He said, ‘Your father’s going to be Kang-ho Song and I can’t tell you much more of it.’ At first I didn’t really know what’s going on, and I couldn’t even read the script. I didn’t know my name or the role. I had no idea what I’d be playing. He gave me a script after that and it was amazing.”

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Kang-ho told Vulture later the same month that he “didn’t exactly know” the plot but had a general idea of the story Joon-ho wanted to tell. Joon-ho didn’t reveal much to So-dam either only telling her that she would play Kang-ho’s daughter.

5. Some of the Cast Has Worked With Joon-ho in the Past

Lee Jeong-eun, who portrays the first housekeeper, voiced the title character in Okja, which also starred Woo-shik. Kang-ho, meanwhile, has starred in Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder (2003), The Host (2006) and Snowpiercer (2013).

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