It happens halfway through the movie, past the point of no return. After a night of stolen luxury, a working class family of grifters, the Kims, discover their cramped abode is flooded with rain and sewage water. They are truly up to their necks, and the movie doesn’t ease up from there.
This is Parasite, the latest film from South Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho. A scathing satire on the divisions between the working class and the rich elite, Bong ditches the high-speed dystopian trains and giant monsters of his previous movies (Snowpiercer, The Host, Okja) to zero in on a story about aspirational wealth that could happen in the real world.
“The world it portrays is very realistic,” Park So-dam tells Inverse (via his English interpreter).
In Parasite, a poor family of schemers, the Kims, sneak themselves into the lives of the affluent Parks. Posing as English tutors, housekeepers, and drivers, the Kims briefly coast on the Parks’ luxury, until a shocking discovery in the basement threatens to unravel their scheme. Park, along with Choi Woo-shik, stars in the movie as one of the two Kim siblings.
Beyond its obvious class tensions, Park also sees Parasite as a story about the unpredictable nature of life.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next five years,” she says, “and I truly believe everyone’s life has a sense of unknown coming your way. Bong was able to use the basic formula of two four-person families to portray the entire society we are in.”
Most of the film is radiated by beautiful sunshine — the grass really looks greener when it glows in daylight — but at its midpoint, Parasite gets drenched in a storm. Pipes break and sewers overflow into the streets, and right into the Kims’ semi-basement apartment.
“There were tons and tons of water,” says Park. “The team was pouring out to create the rain. The weather wasn’t cold, but because that scene took hours, we stayed wet throughout the day. I remember that being not ideal.”
Says celebrated actor Song Kang-ho, who plays Mr. Kim: “I wanted the segment to end as soon as possible.”