2020欧洲杯体育在线网址I rewatched Parasite yesterday here in Seoul (the local multiplex chain owned by the company that produced the film was hosting special showings in celebration of the Oscar wins), and I noticed some thematically-relevant details, some of which non-Korean audiences wouldn't be able to catch or fully appreciate, so I thought I'd share them here.
First, the dialogue. A notable feature of the Korean language is the strict separation between its formal and informal register. Obviously, all languages will distinguish between professional/official usage and casual/intimate usage (e.g. tu vs vous2020欧洲杯体育在线网址 in French, or American customer service reps saying "How may I assist you" instead of "How can I help you"). However, in Korean (as in Japanese), this divide is baked into the grammar in a way that makes the social and hierarchical dynamics of every conversation and interaction almost painfully explicit.
The film plays with this linguistic feature to illustrate the theme of crossing or blurring "the line" between the classes, as frequently alluded to by the Nathan Park character. That is, the line between the formal and informal register gets blurred when the lower-class members manage to cross over to the other side, and its usage also reflects who has the upper hand when the lower-class characters are fighting amongst themselves.
2020欧洲杯体育在线网址The interactions between Ki-jung (the poor sister; art tutor) and Yeon-kyo (the rich mom) are full of interesting examples of the former, the most obvious being the scene where they are standing outside the house, discussing hiring Mr. Kim (poor dad) as the Park family's new driver. The expectation here is that both should be speaking in the formal register, with the Rich Mom occassionally lapsing into casual speech due to her seniority and status as employer. However, in that scene, Ki-jung reciprocates with lapses of her own that are bold and frequent enough to stand out as jarring and borderline unrealistic to a Korean viewer. Given Korean social norms, just the age difference alone should be enough for Ki-jung to adhere strictly to the formal register, but she ends up speaking to the Rich Mom almost like a close friend or immediate family member, while barely keeping up appearances. To a Korean audience, this gives a subtle but powerful indication that Ki-jung has managed to be accepted very deeply into the Rich Mom's confidence, and is treated as a peer, not just an employee.
The crossing of lines in this particular relationship is also illustrated using cinematography, in the earlier art therapy job interview scene where Ki-jung is spouting nonsense about Da-song's drawing to the comically receptive Rich Mom. In that scene, the 180 degree-rule is broken dramatically when the Rich Mom gasps tearfully in reaction to Ki-jung asking about Da-song's traumatic event. In that moment, to the other side of the forbidden line, from behind Ki-jung's back while showing Rich Mom's horrified face. And from then on, the shot reverse shot between the two characters in that scene consistently violates the 180-degree rule. This is a genius way of cinematically showing that Ki-jung's infiltration has achieved a level of success that her other family members haven't quite managed. By the way, in that scene near the end where Mr. Park and Mr. Kim are crouching behind bushes wearing indian headgear? Same shot reverse shot editing, but the 180-degree rule is preserved, as Park ruthlessly quashes Kim's slight incursion over the line. This is, of course, the default expectation, but still, the contrast was palpable for me, as I had noticed the first violation, was on the lookout for another, and it never happened.
Going back to the dialogue, the interactions between the poor characters are also rich with subtext expressed through register. In the beginning, the pizza place owner complaining to Chung-sook (poor mom) about QA issues with the folded boxes is also speaking in the informal register in a way that is gratingly, almost aggresively disrespectful considering the age difference. Also of note is the scene between Chung-sook and Moon-gwang (former housekeeper) when the bunker is first revealed. Moon-gwang starts out speaking with extreme deference, while Chung-sook arrogantly lapses into the informal register, but when the other family members enter the scene, their registers become reversed instantly. The Korean audience at last night's showing erupted in laughter when Moon-gwang told Chung-sook to STFU due to the blatant shift in her tone of speech, which might also have been apparent in the subtitles, but probably not to the same visceral degree.
There are also some details about the scholar's rock that I haven't seen discussed on reddit. For one thing, in the scene where Ki-woo is leaving the house for his first tutoring session, we see Poor Mom in the background vigorously scrubbing the scholar's rock with a toothbrush. That sight would probably have left Min-hyuk's grandfather (the rock's original owner) apoplectic, as the supposed value of these rocks lie in the way that they have been sculpted by nature, which means every crease and wrinkle is part of what makes the rock special. Subjecting it to such rough abuse would obviously cause minute alterations and damage, thus defeating the purpose of owning such an item. I saw this as a subtle indication of the lack of habitus (cultural knowledge/awareness shared by the upper class) on part of the Kim family.
Also of note is a throwaway line by Min-hyuk when he is presenting the rock to the Kims. I don't know if this detail made it into the subtitles, but he says that his grandfather started collecting scholar's rocks when he was a cadet in the Korea Military Academy, which is basically Korea's West Point. This is an evocative snippet of characterization, because that means his grandfather was a career officer during the time period that Korea was ruled by military dictatorships, and would thus have been in a position of some power. The Korean military has also been plagued with corruption until fairly recently, which together was enough to make me wonder how a cadet could have affored these expensive collector's pieces, and just how exactly Min-hyuk's family became rich enough to comfortably afford him studying abroad.
2020欧洲杯体育在线网址Another quirk that kind of confused me was when Mr. Park whispers in his wife's ear about his suspicions of his then-driver drugging a girl and having sex with her in his car, the wife blurts out something about meth and cocaine. Obviously, these are uppers, and not what a Western audience would immediately think of when considering date rape drugs. However, drug usage is so effectively suppressed in Korean society, and common knowledge on the subject so minimal, that the average moviegoer would only ever have heard of weed and meth (by its Japanese brand name philopon, which is the word the wife uses). Thus, references to, say, ketamine or rohypnol would entirely have gone over the audience's heads, which may have been a consideration in Bong writing the scene the way he did. It's even possible that Bong himself is unaware of such matters and didn't realize the discrepancy. Either way, the scene does make sense if we assume the Rich Mom only knows about, and has access to, her husband's drugs of choice, but Western audiences might have had difficulty fully appreciating just how deviant the Parks' drug habits are by Korean standards, and how dangerous and life-endingly damaging such an allegation would be under the Korean justice system. Hence their decision to avoid any untoward attention by keeping the whole affair as hush-hush as possible.
2020欧洲杯体育在线网址That's all I can think of right now that you'd have to be Korean to pick out, but yesterday's viewing, which was my second time watching the film, left me with a whole new appreciation for how much detail and foreshadowing is crammed into every frame: