ACF Asia #5: Parasite


Friends, here’s my conversation with Peter Paik on the big Oscar winner, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite. We talk about the movie as a story of the conflict between liberalism and Korea’s older ways. We try to explain the new social and economic situation in South Korea, but also Bong’s interest in character study that reveals virtues and vices that reverse the judgments implied in the class analysis liberalism usually offers. This is not a story about wicked rich people, or systemic inequality, vs. innocent or virtuous poor people. It’s about the desire for self-mastery and the desire for comfort, or the difference between absorbing suffering and fleeing anxiety.


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  1. Peter Meza Member
    Peter Meza

    OK, but what about the rock?

    • #1
  2. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    You don’t know about scholar stones?

    • #2
  3. LC Member

    Parasite is both the best and funniest movie I saw in 2019. I agree with you guys that liberals are more likely to project what they want on this film. I’m sure I mostly don’t agree with Joon-ho’s view of the world and especially of capitalism, but I think this is his smartest movie thus far. It deftly illustrates the social issues in South Korea, especially with the young unemployed people there. But it’s also very universal in the absurd family dynamics. It’s very easy for us to see what’s so wrong with both families.

    Every character is so over the top in his/her own way, especially both mothers. The actor who plays Mr. Park is so so good in this movie. 

    • #3
  4. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Yeah, it seems like he needed it to be very funny & even somewhat light-hearted for the first hour, because that way he can have over-the-top characters that you can get a grasp on for later when things get messy. Then you begin to see things about the characters you maybe didn’t notice before. Their character begins to matter ,that is.

    • #4
  5. Peter Meza Member
    Peter Meza

    Titus Techera (View Comment):

    You don’t know about scholar stones?

    I just thought that the rock may have had some special significance for your interpretation of the film apart from being a “naturally shaped stone appreciated by Chinese scholars.”

    • #5
  6. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera

    Well, yeah, it’s more important than it seems.

    It appears when the plot takes off–it’s tied up with the friend Min introducing Ki-woo into the Park family & it’s connected to an older relative of Min’s, who collected such things. It’s supposed to reiterate the past somehow–neo-Confucianism for the digital age.

    Then Ki-woo saves the stone from the flooded apartment, but then he wants to use it for murder. There’s therefore this double shame attached to what was supposed to be a symbol of seriousness about serious things, serene dedication to the truth.

    Since you do not have a new aristocracy, you cannot have new scholars-advisors. No neo-Joseon.

    • #6