Episode 29: Parasite

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After their 19th century vacation in the last episode, Sean and Cody swim back to roughly the present day and immediately find themselves drowning in Korea’s environmental problems as depicted in Bong Joon-ho’s sardonic tragicomedy Parasite. When Kim Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) bluffs his way into a job as a tutor to the fetching daughter of the rich Park family, he thinks he can get his own poor family out of their squalid subterranean Seoul rat-trap. But as the Kim family completes their infiltration of the Park household, a series of bizarre surprises turns the Kims’ cushy gig into a bloody nightmare of class warfare. Environmental issues discussed include climate change, rainfall and flooding in modern Korea, and the linkage between economic dislocation and environmental problems.

How and why is Parasite the ultimate climate change movie? Why is Korea, and especially South Korea, being punished by climate change sooner and more severely than most parts of the developed world? What happened to South Korea’s once-robust middle class, and is the same thing now happening to the U.S.? How much more rain now falls in Korea than did 250 years ago? Why did Donald Trump absolutely hate this movie without ever having seen it? What’s the ghoulish secret ingredient of Kettle Korn that makes it taste so good? Why are there so many fried chicken restaurants in Korea? Would anyone actually build a house like the Parks’ shown in the film? What does this film have in common with Great Expectations and Sherman’s March, featured on previous episodes? All these questions are burping to the surface through your toilet in this wet, sloppy and disaster-capitalized episode of Green Screen.

Original trailer for Parasite.

Additional Materials About This Episode

The Kims, formerly a middle-class family, are a couple of badly-folded pizza boxes away from ruin in this scene from early in Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite.

The Kims engineer a labyrinthine scheme to get Mrs. Park (Cho Yeo-jeong) to turn against and fire her longtime housekeeper (Lee Jung-eun). We discuss this sequence at length in the episode.

Climate change packs a wallop for the Kim family as their home is flooded in a monsoon-related deluge, while in the meantime the Parks’ former housekeeper lays dying in the infamous subterranean bunker. There are mild spoilers here for part of the film’s plot.

Environmental History/Climate Change

Dharna Noor, “Why Parasite is the First Climate Movie to Win Best Picture,” Gizmodo, February 10, 2020:
https://earther.gizmodo.com/why-parasite-is-the-first-climate-movie-to-win-best-pic-1841579194

Min Hyoung-song, “Climate Change in the Film Parasite,” Chicago Review of Books, November 21, 2019:
https://chireviewofbooks.com/2019/11/21/climate-change-in-the-film-parasite/

Ben Goldfarb, “Parasite is Great Cli-Fi,” The Last Word on Nothing (blog), January 28, 2020:
https://www.lastwordonnothing.com/2020/01/28/parasite-is-great-cli-fi/

Rainfall in Korea. Bin Wang, Jong-Ghap Jhun and Byung-Kwon Moon, “Variability and Singularity of Seoul, South Korea, Rainy Season (1778=2004),” Journal of Climate, Vol. 20, No. 11 (June 1, 2007) [JSTOR link]:
https://www.jstor.org/stable/26260473?seq=1

Economic Dislocation in Modern Korea

Alex Ward, Interview with Dr. Kyung Hyun Kim, “Oscar-nominated Parasite is a global hit. South Koreans know it’s a local story,” Vox.com, February 4, 2020:
https://www.vox.com/culture/2020/2/4/21080664/parasite-oscars-south-korea-economy-interview

Movie Stuff

Christian Holub, “Parasite Director Bong Joon Ho Discusses the Film’s Twisty Ending,” Entertainment Weekly, October 23, 2019:
https://ew.com/movies/2019/10/23/parasite-bong-joon-ho-ending-explained/

Here is NerdWriter’s breakdown of the montage involving the plot against the housekeeper, referenced in the episode.

The Google Street View of the Jamahun Tunnel Entrance in Seoul. The “staircase” scene in Parasite was filmed here, but the stairs themselves are not visible from this side of the street. Here’s the link to the Google Maps panorama.

Parasite (2019) at IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6751668/
Parasite (2019) at Letterboxd: https://letterboxd.com/film/parasite-2019/

Next Movie Up: 12 Monkeys (1995)

The header image from Parasite is presumably copyright (c) 2019 by CJ Entertainment. Its inclusion here is believed to be permissible under fair use. We are not the uploaders of any YouTube clips embedded here. 

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