A new South Korean film about wealth inequality has taken the world by storm, racking up dozens of awards and most recently clinching six Oscar nominations, including for best picture and international feature.
Parasite, directed by Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho, highlights the fictional plight of the poor Kim family and their attempt to insinuate their way into the wealthy Park household. While the Kims feed off of the Parks’ money, the Parks enjoy the fruits of the Kims’ labor as they tutor the children and tend to the house. The dark satire eventually ends in violence and tragedy, raising questions about dignity, social class and capitalism.
The movie has received critical acclaim since its debut at the Cannes Film Festival last year, earning the top award there and a long standing ovation. But despite Parasite’s historic Oscar nominations, the film’s cast received no nods in the Academy’s acting categories, spurring accusations of racial bias and the awards’ tendency to overlook nonwhite actors.
According to Bong, the film resonates globally because of rising inequality. It has also sparked debates about social mobility, and whether the poor are ever really allowed to overstep the boundaries that limit them. For example, despite being well-dressed, the Kims’ clothes have absorbed the odor of their sub-basement flat, a scent that appears to offend the Park family.
In this episode we ask, why is everybody talking about Parasite? Join the conversation.
On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Kyung Hyun Kim, @UCIrvine
Professor, East Asian Studies - University of California, Irvine uci.edu
The real-life Korean poverty behind Parasite – South China Morning Post
In 'Parasite,' Food Is a Violent Weapon of Class Struggle - VICE
How Parasite became the most talked about foreign language film of 2019 – The Guardian