What You Didn’t Know about Parasite’s Rich Home and Poor Neighborhood

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The award-winning movie “Parasite” was the talk of the town after bringing home the Best Picture, Best Director, Best International Feature Film, and Best Original Screenplay at the recently concluded Academy Awards–truly a feat for an international film. Aside from the stellar performance of the cast, the set designs were also some of the highlights of the film. 

Amid all the plot twists and turns in the movie was the house the affluent Park family occupied, which is the exact opposite of the run-down semi-basement the Kim family settled in. The contrast between rich and poor was clearly emphasized, showing just how different the lives of the families were. 

What you see on screen is the understated home of the rich and the densely packed neighborhood of the poor, but if you know how much work actually went into building the sets, you’ll appreciate “Parasite” even more. Here are some interesting facts and Easter eggs you may not have known about the Korean movie: 

The Poor Neighborhood Was Built in a Water Tank 

One of the highlights of the film was the flooding of the Kim neighborhood, which showed just how hard it is to live in a compromised area because it’s all a family can afford. To make it easy to film the flooding in the Kim family household, the entire neighborhood was created on a giant water tank. But the attention to detail of the set design didn’t stop there. They also purchased or asked for permission to take windows, tiles, doors, gates, and screens from abandoned houses in actual neighborhoods set to be demolished or developed. This made the neighborhood in the movie more realistic–even if acquiring the props from real neighborhoods took months

The Rich House is Not a Real Home

If you’ve noticed some of the indoor scenes in the Park family home looking unreal, that’s because they are. The house featured in the film as the work of a fictional architect named Namgoong Hyeonja was, on set, a combination of digital and practical effects. A green screen was used to create the second floor. The open set’s first floor and enviable front yard, meanwhile, were designed on a vacant outdoor lot in Jeonju. The interior rooms were also built separately, much to the delight even of the famous directors who were part of this year’s Cannes jury, including Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Kelly Reichardt. 

The Kims Need to Work for 600 Years to Afford the Park Home

In the latter part of the film, Kim Kiwoo talks about planning to save up to buy the Park family home where his dad, Kitaek, resorted to hiding in the basement after committing a crime against the Parks. In our country, the property is comparable to a six-bedroom mansion in a secured community in Manila, which has a well-manicured lawn and even a pool for the children’s enjoyment.  

Kiwoo imagined it all unfolding before his eyes, and that his dad would just have to walk out of the basement and be reunited with his family. However, given their job folding pizza boxes shown at the beginning of the movie, it would take someone in Kiwoo’s financial position about 540 years to save up enough to afford the Park home. Assuming that he earns minimum wage for folding pizza boxes, in the Philippines, that would mean he earns 537 PHP/day (as of 2018). 

The Kims’ Change in Living Condition Alludes to Hope  

At the beginning of the movie, the Kims were living in a semi-basement, which is realistic in the impoverished parts of South Korea, shares director Bong Joon-Ho and actor Choi Woo-shik. This symbol of the family being half underground, however, is not all bad. In their situation, they are still able to see the sun–they still have hope. Later on in the movie, Kitaek’s situation changes, and he ends up in the basement where Geunse used to hide, a place with no windows and no sign of hope. 

The Citizens in the Kim Neighborhood All Had Backstories

Production designer Lee Ha Jun did not just think about the story of the main characters of the film. He also fleshed out the characters in the Kim neighborhood–even if you don’t see them on film. For instance, one of the neighbors is an old woman whose children collect garbage for a living. Another neighbor is supposedly a shaman, while another one is an unemployed who is trying to be a YouTuber. Screen Rant even said this could be the neighbor the Kims are trying to get their Wi-fi signal from! 

Now that you know all the behind-the-scenes magic that went into the award-winning movie, give “Parasite” a second watch to see things you may have missed.


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