Bong Joon-ho’s new film ‘Parasite,’ Cannes nominee, to show extremes of Korean society

By Im Eun-byel
  • Published : Apr 22, 2019 - 16:31
  • Updated : Apr 22, 2019 - 16:31

Film director Bong Joon-ho’s new work “Parasite,” slated to compete at Cannes this year, features two ordinary families in different situations.

Bong’s new film has been included in the 2019 Cannes Film Festival’s feature selection, marking the director’s second time competing for the Palme d’Or, following “Okja” in 2017. 

“Parasite” (CJ ENM)
Film director Bong Joon-ho speaks during a press conference for “Parasite,” held at The Westin Chosun Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)
Film director Bong Joon-ho speaks during a press conference for “Parasite,” held at The Westin Chosun Seoul on Monday. (Yonhap)

“(Including the noncompetitive selections), it is my fifth time to be invited to Cannes. It is a pleasure to screen my new work at the hottest, the most passionate place for film,” Bong said at a press conference at The Westin Chosun Seoul on Monday.

Of his chances of receiving an award at the international film festival in mid-May, Bong said he did not have high expectations but that he was honored to be on the list of nominees, which also includes directors he has admired since his youth.

“I am not sure if foreigners will be able to understand this film 100 percent. There are elements that only a Korean audience can fully understand. I am looking forward to this movie’s opening in Korea.

“But, of course, the film can also appeal to everyone, regardless of nationality, since the issue of poverty and wealth is a universal one,” the director added.

“Parasite” depicts two families, one affluent and the other living in deep poverty. Despite their differences, both are ordinary, loving families. The two families come into contact as a result of an unexpected incident.

According to Bong, the two families are divided into separate spaces by an invisible yet firm line -- much as in real life, where the poor and the wealthy are divided.

“I thought of the script in the winter of 2013. The working title had been ‘Decalcomania’ for a year,” he said. “I wondered, what would happen if two families in such different environments met each other?” 

“Parasite” (CJ ENM)
“Parasite” (CJ ENM)

Song Kang-ho, a regular in Bong’s films, stars as the head of the impoverished family. It is Song’s fourth film with Bong, following “Memories of Murder,” “The Host” and “Snowpiercer.”

“Every time, Bong challenges himself with amazing imagination and films with insight,” Song said. He also recalled that with “Parasite,” he’d experienced a similar feeling to the one he got when he received the script for the 2003 film “Memories of Murder.”

“‘After 16 years, I think this work will show Bong’s amazing development and the growth of the Korean movie scene,” the veteran actor said.

The film also stars Choi Woo-shik as Song’s son. The 28-year-old, who debuted nine years ago, will be visiting Cannes for the third time, after “Train to Busan” and “Okja.”

In “Parasite,” Choi plays a central character, the one who links the two families. He will be tutoring the daughter of the affluent family and lying about his background.

Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Park So-dam and Jang Hye-jin also star in the film.

“Parasite” hits local theaters in May.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)