February 10, 2020


"Parasite" Is a Preposterous Film Rooted in Class-Struggle Nonsense (John Tamny,  February 6, 2020, AIER)

In the years after World War II, Korea's economy was in tragic shape. In 1948, the country's per capita income of $86 put it on par with Sudan. Disastrous policies led to hyperinflation, snail-paced growth forced mothers to make choices about children along the lines of Sophie's, plus literacy rates in the country were among the lowest in the world. Analyzing the situation, one U.S. official concluded that "Korea can never attain a high standard of living." The reason, he observed, was that "there are virtually no Koreans with the technical training and experience required to take advantage of Korea's resources and effect an improvement over its rice-economy status." 

Happily, however, predictions are made to be discredited. The speculation about what became South Korea's future proved incorrect. Wildly so. Fast forward to the present, and South Korea now finds itself impressively prosperous. Though GDP isn't the most accurate or worthy of numbers, what was once wrecked by war (among other things) is now one of only two countries (along with Taiwan) to "have managed 5 percent growth for five decades" on the way to its economy presently ranking as the world's 13th largest. [...]

For background, Parasite is ostensibly the story of a down-on-its-luck Korean family that folds pizza boxes for a local chain as seemingly its primary source of income. The Kim family lives in a grungy basement apartment in Seoul, though old photos of the Pere Kim perhaps indicate a somewhat upwardly mobile past. Needless to say, the family struggles in the present.

Then luck of sorts find them. Even though none of the family members can find steady work, son Ki-woo is friends with a university student set to study abroad. For extra money, Ki-woo's friend works as an English tutor for the very rich Park family. The Parks have a daughter who aspires to learn English, so Ki-woo's friend tells him to pose as a university student in order to get the job. Right here it's fair to guess that those who haven't seen Parasite can see how thoroughly implausible the film is.

Simply stated, fluency in English is a rather lucrative skill to possess, Ki-woo ultimately gets the job tutoring the daughter, but if he's got these skills why on earth would he be folding pizza boxes? We're supposed to believe that the Kims are poor due to a lack of work options, but let's be serious. If Ki-woo is fluent in English such that he can immediately impress the rich Parks, why isn't he already lucratively employed by someone, somewhere in Seoul in consideration of English's seminal role in the global economy? More on this question in a bit.

Until then, it should be said that having secured the job as English tutor to Da-hye, Ki-woo is told that Da-hye's brother Da-song is obsessed with art. Sensing an opportunity for his strikingly beautiful sister, Ki-woo fibs to Mrs. Park that she's an "art" expert of some kind only for Ki-jeong to be hired to tutor Da-song. Once in the employ of the Parks, Ki-jeong frames Mr. Park's longtime driver for having sex in the car he chauffeurs Mr. Park around in by leaving a pair of underwear in the back seat, only for Pere Kim to become Mr. Park's driver. The three Kims then exploit the Park family cook's peach allergy to get Mrs. Kim hired as the cook.

To be fair, movies are supposed to be escapist to some degree. And the stories, to be good, must be a little bit implausible. Fine, except that with Parasite Bong Joon-ho is thoroughly insulting the intelligence of his viewers.

Up front, we're supposed to believe a son fluent in English, a daughter capable of betraying reasonable knowledge of art, a father knowledgeable of cars (and who can clean up to look the part of an elegant chauffeur), and a mother capable of cooking for those in possession of discerning palates, rate only the most menial of work unless they trick others into hiring them. We're then expected to believe that individuals so resourceful as to talk themselves into jobs by hyping their backgrounds can't do the same with the myriad high-end corporations based in Seoul?

The unemployment rate in South Korea is 3.5%.

Posted by at February 10, 2020 6:23 PM