Parasite: “This is so metaphorical”

There are plenty of reviews of the South Korean multiple award winning film Parasite discussing it’s clever delivery of class relationships through the lens of a tragic-comedy.

SPOILERS: possibly, depending on what you consider to be something spoiled.

There are numerous moments of note. I could probably dissect every scene because it is so metaphorical. A quote referenced by the son of the Kim family, Ki-woo. But the moment that struck me the most was from his sister, Ki-jung.

From the beginning she is truly an ensemble character. She is the sister of the guy that is approached by that other guy that never shows up again (first red herring). But immediately Ki-woo enlists the assistance of Ki-Jung to establish and, later, embellish his plan. She’s amazing. She’s got talents. Even under guise, she takes to each development like a chameleon. Her abilities and intellect make it possible for her entire family to find, what seems to be stable work. But the Kim’s don’t necessarily want stable work. Who does? An improvement on stable work would be not having to work at all. And, like the Lady of the House, settle cozy into shallowness; be aloof enough to appear to need wealth to satiate anxiety.

Establishing their new roles in the Park home, the Kim’s settle in for a night of drinking. The Park’s have gone camping for their son’s birthday so the house is open for their pleasure. Finally, the Kim’s get to let their hair down; and let it down they do. The mother, Chung-sook, laughs at her drunken family, content in their momentary desires, and says that they would all runaway if the Park’s suddenly returned home. They have no plan. Just amusement. This point is drilled in as she reiterates a motif found throughout the story, her husband, Ki-taek would scurry like a cockroach.

Ki-jung interrupts, in a drunken tequila slur with some expletives and yells “we’re the ones who need help. Worry about us, okay?” “Dad…just focus on us.” The declaration interrupts the conversation. Idiomatically, it came out of nowhere. But there was a place. And quite literally it made the weather worse. Which led to a series of unfortunate events. The end. But this question. This request. These simple lines from a drunken girl seem easy to overlook, and they are, by the audience who is wondering why does she care right now? Why do we need to be angry drunk…we can’t get to Sober fast enough. Ki-jung needs her family to answer this question. She needs her family to remember they are a family. As pests, they can’t get the smell of poverty off of them. They cannot release the shame they are reminded of by their mere presence.

The rock they could tie themselves to — and be weighed down or drown. The rock they can put down and not pick up again. The rock that will erode your life but cannot be destroyed. Daughter/Sister/Ki-jung attempts to warn them that they are feeding the wrong wolf. Her family is too consumed with the fantasy of luxury, they cannot see the things that matter most are right in front of them. Each of them, where they were, at that moment, because of their separate abilities; there was no gratitude. There was no reverence for their successes.

This is why Ki-jung’s fate is fitting. This is why Ki-woo’s fate is fitting. This is why the Kim parents fate is fitting. They are metaphors, symbols for what we maintain when we forget that love, recognition and gratitude are valuable. That self respect and respect for others strengthens bonds. Since it is the heart that matters most, Ki-jung’s request of her family spurred the falling action and denouement. For those seeking an ending that is both satisfying and uplifting, look to your own lives. See what keeps you trapped, no matter how many times you work your way out of the maze. What turned you around? Did you recognize where it happened? When? Why? Did you bring others with you? Did you help them in? Can you get them out? Can you get yourself out?

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“One man's constant is another man's variable.” Alan Perlis

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