Unraveling the Layers of Class Struggle: A Deep Dive into Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite”


Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” (2019) took the world by storm, captivating audiences with its sharp wit, biting social commentary, and masterful storytelling. This South Korean film transcends genre boundaries, seamlessly blending elements of dark comedy, thriller, and drama to create a cinematic masterpiece that resonates on a global scale. In this article, we delve into the multifaceted layers of “Parasite,” exploring its exploration of class struggle, social inequality, and the human condition.


Plot Synopsis:

“Parasite” revolves around the impoverished Kim family, struggling to make ends meet in a cramped semi-basement apartment. When their son, Ki-woo, secures a tutoring job for the affluent Park family’s daughter, a series of deceptive schemes unfolds as the Kims infiltrate the lives of their wealthy employers. As the lines between the two families blur, tensions simmer and secrets unravel, culminating in a shocking climax that lays bare the stark realities of class divide.

Themes and Symbolism:

At its core, “Parasite” is a searing indictment of social inequality and the inherent injustices perpetuated by class divisions. Bong Joon-ho crafts a narrative rich in symbolism, using the stark contrast between the Kim and Park families to highlight the absurdity of societal hierarchies. Through subtle visual cues and layered dialogue, the film explores themes of greed, ambition, and the desperate struggle for upward mobility in a system rigged against the underprivileged.

One of the film’s central motifs is the metaphor of the parasite itself, symbolizing the parasitic relationship between the haves and the have-nots. As the Kim family ingratiates themselves into the lives of the Parks, they feed off their wealth and privilege, highlighting the exploitative nature of socioeconomic disparity. However, as the narrative unfolds, it becomes increasingly evident that the parasite may be more symbiotic than initially perceived, blurring the lines between victim and perpetrator.

Character Analysis:

“Parasite” boasts a rich ensemble cast, each character imbued with depth, complexity, and moral ambiguity. The Kim family, led by patriarch Ki-taek, is portrayed with nuance and empathy by Song Kang-ho, capturing the desperation and resilience of those marginalized by society. Ki-taek’s wife, Chung-sook, played by Jang Hye-jin, embodies the fierce maternal instinct and unwavering loyalty that defines the Kim family’s bond.

On the opposing end of the spectrum, the Park family is portrayed with equal precision, each member serving as a reflection of privilege and obliviousness. Cho Yeo-jeong shines as the naive and impressionable Mrs. Park, while Lee Sun-kyun delivers a nuanced performance as the aloof and detached Mr. Park. The interactions between the two families are fraught with tension and subtext, underscored by the power dynamics at play.

Cinematic Craftsmanship:

Bong Joon-ho’s direction elevates “Parasite” to cinematic heights, seamlessly weaving together elements of suspense, humor, and social commentary. From the meticulously designed sets to the evocative cinematography and haunting score, every aspect of the film is crafted with precision and intention. Bong’s use of visual storytelling and narrative pacing keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, while his keen eye for detail invites deeper exploration upon repeat viewings.

The film’s climactic sequence, set against the backdrop of a torrential downpour, is a masterclass in tension and catharsis, culminating in a visceral and emotionally charged finale that leaves a lasting impact. Bong’s ability to seamlessly blend genres and subvert audience expectations is a testament to his prowess as a filmmaker, cementing “Parasite” as a modern classic.


Legacy and Impact:

Since its release, “Parasite” has garnered widespread critical acclaim and accolades, becoming the first non-English language film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Its unprecedented success has sparked conversations about representation, diversity, and the global appeal of South Korean cinema. “Parasite” has transcended cultural boundaries to become a cultural touchstone, resonating with audiences around the world and leaving an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape.


“Parasite” (2019) is more than a film; it is a powerful social commentary that challenges viewers to confront uncomfortable truths about class struggle, social inequality, and the human condition. Through its richly drawn characters, incisive storytelling, and masterful craftsmanship, Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece transcends language and culture to offer a universal exploration of the complexities of the human experience. As audiences continue to unpack its layers of meaning and symbolism, “Parasite” stands as a testament to the enduring power of cinema to provoke, inspire, and ignite meaningful change.

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