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Sunday, February 18, 2024

Cultural Particulars You Missed in “Parasite”

I’ve watched “Parasite” a number of instances now. Throughout one viewing, I broke out my laptop computer to take notes. There have been numerous references within the movie that folks exterior Korea wouldn’t get. Darcy Paquet (Hello, Darcy!), who translated the subtitles into English, as he’s achieved for a lot of of Bong Joon-ho’s tasks, labored laborious to make the script extra worldwide. Translation isn’t nearly robotically altering one phrase for one more. A very good translator interprets cultural cues. On prime of Darcy’s nice effort, I famous numerous issues that might nonetheless get missed. Listed here are my notes.


The Half-basement Residence

Half basement apartment

This was private. I really lived in a half-basement my second 12 months in Korea. At first, I didn’t assume it was so unhealthy. Some buddies of mine additionally lived in a roomy half-basement, and I assumed it was simply an adjustment to residing within the metropolis. After I moved there, and my girlfriend noticed it, she broke down in tears on the disgrace I used to be bearing for residing there. 

I realized throughout my 12 months there why. My sub-basement was proper subsequent to a playground, and children have been all the time peaking in my home windows and kicking balls towards them–no privateness. The musty basement scent permeated every thing. I had purchased a dehumidifier, and it helped a bit however not quite a bit. Garments had a tough time drying. Bizarre bugs crept in. That mentioned, I didn’t have issues with drunks pissing on my window.

I needed to be additional vigilant throughout the wet season. I didn’t get flooded just like the Kims did within the movie, however I used to be always checking and ensuring the drains have been cleared. The water virtually went as much as invasion ranges. Acquired fortunate.

I’ve some good reminiscences of that point, however these are the reminiscences you get if you’ve filtered all of the unhealthy. My weblog began hitting its early stride throughout that 12 months. It was the one Korean meals weblog in existence then. You may return to these early posts in 2005-2006 and see what the condominium was like. 



To start with when Ki-woo (pronounced GEE-oo) is making an attempt to get wi-fi, he mentions he can’t get IPTime to work. IPTime is an area model of wi-fi router. When attempting to find wi-fi in Korea, IPTime routers are likely to not be password protected. I used to have one, and if I bear in mind appropriately, that was its default setting. It wasn’t probably the most user-friendly machine to arrange. So individuals would simply plug it in, and strangers may sip off their wi-fi.

Korea isn’t as miffed by privateness as different societies. We hear requires extra CCTVs, not much less. I’ve realized to count on no privateness at physician’s places of work, the place they’ll announce the outcomes of my drug or HIV exams (was a requirement for international lecturers) within the ready room.

Within the film, the woman upstairs found out methods to password shield it. I discovered it humorous that they tried to make use of “123456789” as a result of it coulda labored. It’s been a private frustration of mine how even giant organizations are cavalier about passwords. I used to work for a significant broadcaster in Seoul, and I used to be appalled that the principle password to get into their system was much like that.

Kakao Speak (WhatsApp)

Kakao Talk

You didn’t hear “WhatsApp” within the dialogue. Should you pay attention carefully, you possibly can hear “Ka-talk,” which is brief for “Kakao Speak.” Korea’s reply to WhatsApp. It’s how everybody communicates, identical to China makes use of WeChat and Japan makes use of Line. It’s grow to be so synonymous with Korea, that there are multi-storied Kakao shops promoting character merchandise based mostly on their emojis.

The Silver Medal

Silver Medal

First off, it’s not an Olympic medal. It interprets to “Nationwide Classification, Athletics Championships, Korean Federation of Athletics” in 1992. What’s vital is that it’s silver, not gold. There’s no glory in second place.

The Fumigator


Even the Kims mentioned, “They nonetheless try this?”

In summer season, fumigator vans would journey down neighborhoods to rid the areas of mosquitoes. Youngsters ran behind the vans as a result of it was enjoyable to play within the mist. Don’t ask me in regards to the well being hazards of that. After I lived in my half-basement, I bear in mind the fumigator truck going by. I didn’t open my home windows.

The Meals & Drinks

I’m certain most picked up on how meals confirmed the Kims’ class development, beginning with a bag of white bread. Then the Drivers’ Cafeteria (기사식당), which I personally like. They’re low-cost however good buffets. Then they’re consuming correct rice, egg, and kimchi at dwelling. Then grilling L.A. Beef Galbi at dwelling.  

When the household is sitting round and ingesting the primary time within the movie, they’re sharing a bag of chips opened like a bowl as “anju” (pub grub). They’re additionally ingesting FiLite, which is the most affordable malt beverage in the marketplace. It’s nasty.

After we return to that very same get collectively because the Kims are transferring up in earnings, everybody however the mother has switched to Sapporo, which is taken into account an costly import. Mother caught to FiLite. 

It peaks after they’re indulging within the excessive finish liquors on the Parks’ home. They fly too near the solar as a result of every thing falls aside after that second. 

Standing and Character

Pizza boss dynamics

This one shot right here conveys a very good little bit of character. The a lot youthful pizza boss didn’t resort to banmal, a type of talking when speaking to somebody decrease than you within the hierarchy. She revered her elders in a way, though she was chastising them. The shorthand option to inform is to pay attention for the “yo” on the finish of the sentence. That’s thought of–effectively–not rude. Later, when Min is yelling on the drunk, who’s older than him, he makes use of banmal.

Ki-woo tries to appease the boss and get a part-time job. Word how he tries to maintain his head at her degree or decrease to indicate respect. But his sister Ki-jung doesn’t. It’s their model of Good Cop, Unhealthy Cop. 

Language varieties and physique language add this entire wealthy layer to the category message. I’ve been studying articles about how “Parasite” might be made in any nation. But I really feel it really works so effectively in Korea due to the numerous layers of hierarchy current in easy issues like verb endings, head peak, eye contact. A Hollywood remake (PLEASE DON’T) couldn’t do that with this a lot subtlety. It must be BONK BONK on the pinnacle.

 The Money

10,000 won

50,000 won Should you haven’t lived or visited South Korea up to now ten years when the 50,000 received notice was launched, you will have missed this amusing distinction between the pizza boss’ fee and Park Yeon-kyo’s fee later. Going from inexperienced 10,000 received notes (~$10 USD) to golden 50,000 received notes (~$50 USD) and simply flipping by way of them like they have been nothing. I may really feel Ki-woo’s coronary heart leap at that.

Shoeless Toes

shoeless feet

I didn’t discover this till simply watching it now. When Min walks in, he takes his footwear off as a result of we’re a civilized nation and take our footwear off when coming into a house. However he steps in one thing unusual and shakes it off. I discovered that humorous.

That ain’t a pleasant wooden flooring. It’s linoleum.

Oh, and I’m certain you wish to know extra in regards to the rock. I’ve seen these in Samgyetang locations and outdated individuals’s houses. It’s higher defined right here.

Comfort Retailer Bars

convenience store bars

One of many nice charms of residing in South Korea is the comfort retailer bars. Tables often sit exterior comfort shops and bodegas (known as “Tremendous” in Korean). Simply seize some drinks, cups, and snacks. You’ve gotten your self an affordable all-night ingesting spot. 

Word Korean ingesting etiquette. Pour on your elders. And when it’s buddies, you often pour them for the primary drink. Additionally notice that they nonetheless have some nuts to eat. We all the time have one thing to munch on when ingesting. As I mentioned, civilized society. 


Only a small factor. The interpretation says “frat boys,” however he actually says neukdae, “wolves.”

My Korean is okay. I not too long ago had a degree check, and I’m 3 out of 5 ranges in TOPIK, so my ears nonetheless want a lot coaching. However I’m certain when Ki-woo calls himself a “loser” within the subtitles, he says, “Baeksu 백수,” in Korean. Actually, it means, “white arms.” It’s one of many first Korean idioms I realized. My first girlfriend had misplaced her job, and he or she known as herself that. Her arms have been white as a result of she wasn’t working. So “loser” on this sense actually meant “unemployed.”

Yonsei College

Yonsei photoshop

That was surreal. I simply cropped a picture of Photoshop in Photoshop. 

Yonsei is translated as “Oxford.” It’s one of many prime three South Korean universities everybody desires to get into. It’s one of many SKY universities: Seoul Nationwide College, Korea College, Yonsei College.  Or SKYE if you happen to embody Ehwa College.

Faking one’s schooling credentials has been a working collection of scandals for many years. Each few years we get rocked by these. Instructional credentials imply quite a bit. Much more than expertise. Even rappers have gotten in hassle with rumors that they faked their faculty levels.

Sure, in Korean hip hop, college cred trumps road cred.

Ki-jung and Ki-woo make the forgery in a PC bang (PC room). They have been ubiquitous. They’d be crowded with players enjoying Starcraft. With the arrival of smartphones and the banning of smoking in PC bangs, they’ve dwindled to endangered standing. Extra character growth with Ki-jung smoking though it’s banned. Getting a used Shin Ramyeon cup to flick her ashes in.

Am I unhealthy that each time I watch this, I get a much bigger crush on Ki-jung?

The Neighborhood


I don’t know the place this neighborhood is. I’m certain if I did somewhat on-line analysis I’d discover out. Or perhaps it’s not an actual place in Seoul. I’ve seen areas that appear like this in Gangnam (Sinsa-dong or Banpo-dong, particularly) and in Hannam-dong, close to Itaewon. I additionally really feel like this might be in Buam-dong, in northwest Seoul, the place there are numerous good homes. Some extra small proof to level to Buam-dong is that there aren’t any subway stations there. It’s the one a part of Seoul with none. The Parks point out it’s been a very long time since they’d taken the subway. In Seoul, principally EVERYONE takes the subway at one time or one other.

Western audiences exterior huge cities wouldn’t respect how uncommon it’s to reside in a home with an precise YARD right here. A yard is an indicator of wealth. A freestanding home is one other indicator. A two-car storage. WHOA!

One trace was that the driving force later took Ki-jung to Hyewha Station, which is in northeast Seoul. I’m questioning if the Kims kind of reside close to there. It’s hilly and has some outdated “villas.” 

N Seoul Tower

In direction of the top, there’s this temporary shot with the one recognizable Seoul landmark within the movie, N Seoul Tower. I’m undoubtedly calling this, saying it’s north of the tower wanting south, which does place it nearer to Hyewha.

Please inform me if you recognize within the feedback. I’ll replace.

UPDATE: The lengthy stairs they climb down within the rain and the tunnel are in Buam-dong. Lots of the filming places for the Kims’ neighborhood are close to Chungjeongno Station. Seongbuk-dong has been repeatedly talked about because the seemingly neighborhood the Parks reside in. Both manner, it’s in very north Seoul, simply north of the palaces.

The Parks

There are a number of notable class cues when Ki-woo will get his first impressions of the Parks. Nathan Park runs an augmented actuality tech firm, and there’s an article about him in New York. As they are saying, if you may make it there…

When taking English lessons or going abroad, most college students undertake English names, which is why Mr. Park additionally goes by Nathan and later Ki-woo goes by Kevin and Ki-jung goes by Jessica.

I don’t know what a “Hybrid Module Map” is, however he received some innovation award for his firm, One other Brick. Take no matter you want with that identify. 

The Parks

Pets of the Noveau Riche

Mrs. Park has a lapdog. They’ve a number of little canines. Pet possession was virtually unheard of out of doors college areas after I arrived in Korea in 2004. My first 12 months, a buddy of mine had this huge beautiful canine. Whereas he was strolling it, a person walked throughout the road and kicked my buddy’s canine

Now we’ve got chains of pet provide outlets. Largely small canines due to condominium residing. It’s been fascinating to observe this cultural shift to shunning pets to embracing them. 

Random apart. I simply came upon a buddy of mine was college buddies with Jo Yeo-jeong, who performs Mrs. Park. Small world.

English + Overseas Manufacturers = Cosmopolitan

She implies her daughter Da-hye isn’t a very good scholar. She additionally implies it doesn’t matter. She’ll get into a very good college anyway.

English itself is a standing image. Like how nouveau riche People assume dropping French phrases makes them subtle. After I co-hosted an English schooling radio present, there was numerous posturing within the message boards about grammar and pronunciation. Petty stuff. It amounted to netizens jostling for standing based mostly on their technical English information. 

The Korean normal public is aware of extra English than it exhibits. One of many causes Koreans could not communicate English to you is concern of being judged and brought down a notch if their grammar isn’t good. That’s an uncomfortable topic many is not going to admit.

Mrs. Park dropping her phonetically pronounced English phrases have been stabs at making her look subtle. She’s additionally impressed by something western. Even simply Ki-woo saying, “Illinois,” impresses her when he’s promoting her on hiring “Jessica.”

Overseas manufacturers, names, and such, emit a cosmopolitan vibe. Even the pet food is Japanese. I may spend an entire collection of weblog posts on this. It irritated my spouse once we first moved to those good residences that one show-offey girl stored bragging about all of the stuff, together with detergent, her worldwide businessman husband introduced from America. 

Nonetheless, this introduced again reminiscences of me tutoring for rich households. And yeah, they have been all very good individuals, like they’re in “Parasite.” It’s eerie how related my previous shoppers have been to the Parks.

The Parks’ and the Kims’ household constructions are related. Two mother and father, sister, brother. Regardless that issues have been altering, having a male inheritor was essential. In my outdated educating days, I bear in mind numerous households, particularly center to higher class households, had older daughters and stopped having children after they received to having a son.

The College Entrance Examination

University entrance exam

Ki-woo’s pattern English lesson provides us a glimpse of the infamous Korean college entrance examination–Korea’s SAT. It’s taken in November, they usually launch the questions and solutions in December. The English part all the time has probably the most stupidly tough gotcha questions that even native English audio system would have issue with. I wager the check creators copy and paste some dense tutorial paper and make one phrase a clean. The check taker should guess which phrase they not noted. 

It’s ridiculous.

The Jessica Jingle

Jessica Jingle

All it’s essential to find out about this tune is that it’s a typical youngsters’s tune, like “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” that they’re utilizing to memorize “Jessica’s” again story.

Okay. It’s a nationalistic tune about Dokdo, the disputed islands off the east coast. “Dokdo is Our Land.” “Dokdo Uri Ddang 독도우리땅.” My daughter sings it.

It’s utilized by youngsters quite a bit to memorize issues. 

Scorching Sauce on Pizza

Hot sauce on pizza

Koreans are shocked to see that folks exterior Korea typically don’t put scorching sauce on their pizza. Or moderately, pizza outlets don’t supply scorching sauce in ketchup packets. The Korean palate craves the sharpness of scorching sauce and the astringency of candy pickles to chop by way of the greasiness of pizza.

I cherished how intelligent this was. They linked the pizza field folding job to them later being served by their former boss within the pizza store to the inspiration to make use of the pizza scorching sauce packet to bloody the tissue to get the housekeeper fired. Lengthy, lengthy con by Bong Joon-ho.

The Hospital

the hospital

Only a small guess that this appears like the principle reception space of Severance Hospital. After my seizure and backbone fracture in 2016, I’ve spend numerous time there, in order that ready space appears acquainted. Particularly with the ethereal gentle. Then once more, I’ve been to a hospital in Ilsan that sorta seemed like this.

TRIVIA: Severance was the primary trendy hospital in Korea. Based by American missionary physician Horace N. Allen within the Eighteen Nineties.

They point out that Korea has the best tuberculosis fee within the developed world. That’s true and has been within the information. It’s one other manner Bong Joon-ho throws the Korean zeitgeist into this movie. 

Braised Ribs

I’m glad Galbi Jjim received this translation. Different instances, it’s known as “Stewed Ribs.” Technically, that’s true, however the really feel of the dish is extra braised than stewed. It’s a special day dish that takes a very long time to cook dinner. If utilizing beef ribs, they’re additionally costly. South Korea has a few of the highest beef costs in the entire world. One other delicate nod to class distinction that Mr. Park craved such a luxurious.

Right here’s a video on methods to make it.

The Enterprise Card

Enterprise playing cards are huge offers in East Asia. Western businesspeople have to study the correct enterprise card etiquette on this a part of the world. If somebody arms you their enterprise card, you deal with it with respect. Obtain it with two arms. Really feel the paper and admire it. Word the job title of the particular person on the cardboard. In a gathering, put it on the desk, not in your pocket. Even higher, place the enterprise playing cards so as of standing if you happen to’re in a bunch assembly.

passing the business card

I’m critical.

High class business card

Mr Park feedback how the enterprise card is an indication of sophistication. Not solely is the design good, it’s printed on thick paper inventory. These sorts of enterprise playing cards are expensive to make. 


Even immediately, most Korean houses don’t have dishwashers or garments dryers. Ovens are nonetheless penetrating the market. Bidets as effectively. Oh… I like bidets…

Household Register

When Mrs. Park calls the faux company for a housekeeper, she’s requested for paperwork, together with a household register. Koreans have documentation of their ancestry courting again centuries. My spouse’s household goes again to round 700 A.D., and I only recently received entered into the register after ten years of marriage. Asking for the household register exhibits how ridiculously extreme and elite this company is. 

500 College Graduates

University Graduates

Mr. Kim praises that they’re doing effectively when even “a gap for a safety guard attracts 500 college graduates.”

Current articles have come out in regards to the over provide of college graduates and the way laborious it’s for graduates to get jobs. 

Summer season

It’s apparent to anybody not in Korea that every one the occasions happen in summer season. Properly, they do point out it’s June. However there are different touches I discovered that signify it. 


The Parks go glamping. They ain’t tenting. No roughing it. There was no critical tenting as a previous time in Korea till the 2010s. And the tenting public when straight into glamping. Having the ability to go tenting in Korea is taken into account a classy exercise. The Parks are even bringing a BEAM PROJECTOR to go CAMPING!!!


Our vegetables and fruit may be extraordinarily seasonal. Peaches are solely accessible throughout a window of June to late July. Typically I’ve seen the season solely final a few weeks.

Wet Season

The wet season, jangma, hits its peak in July, however I’ve seen it begin in June. We haven’t had a foul one shortly, however when it hits, it hits laborious. Flooding. And sure, overflowing sewage. 

Caught a Bouquet

Ki-jung says she as soon as caught a bouquet for somebody she by no means met. In Korean westernized weddings, every thing is finished for the photographs. It’s as if the Korean concept of a western wedding ceremony got here from watching Las Vegas weddings on TV. 

Catching the bouquet is simply one other picture op. A buddy of the bride is chosen forward of time, and he or she throws the bouquet to her for the picture. Typically it takes a number of tries.

EJ catches a bouquet for her friend

Click on right here for extra particulars about Korean weddings.


To point out our bonds, we name one another by familial names. Large sister, huge brother, auntie, uncle. You hear women name their boyfriends “Oppa,” that means, “Large Brother.” I name the proprietor on the Two-Two Hen I frequent “Hyung,” additionally that means, “Large Brother.”

Moon-gwang calls Kim Chung-sook “Unni” right here, which offends her for being so familial.

Slightly later, Moon-gwang will get on her arms and knees, rubbing her arms. It’s an excessive type of begging for favor. I’ll admit I’ve been in a scenario the place I’ve achieved this.


Sure, they do exist. For various causes. However many to cover if North Korea attacked, and even worse, authorities prosecutors wish to do a raid (as she states). There are different bunkers round Korea. There’s one which was constructed for former dictator Park Chung-hee that’s in Yeouido. There’s a WWII Japanese bunker hidden in plain web site subsequent to Gyeonghuigung Palace.

FUN FACT: Many Seoul subway stations go deep underground as a result of they double as bomb shelters.

Taiwanese Castella Outlets

That is the road that prompted me to make this publish. It’s an inside joke Seoul foodies would catch. Castella outlets have been considered one of many flash-in-the-pan meals traits going by way of Seoul.

As with all these traits, many individuals misplaced cash making an attempt to get wealthy fast. Normally males pressured into early retirement, which is why there are such a lot of fried hen pubs. Many of those males really feel they’ve two selections: driving taxis or opening a restaurant.

The newest development has been Taiwanese black sugar bubble tea. This summer season, there have been hour-long waits for this Instagrammy drink. Now the cafes are empty.

Ram-don (Jjapaguri)


When the Parks minimize their journey brief and return dwelling, Mrs. Park asks Mrs. Kim to make her some “Jjapaguri.”

This can be a latest junk meals creation that got here from a TV present that follows superstar dads as they handle their children. One of many dads mentioned his go-to dish was mixing two in style prompt noodles collectively, Chapagetti and Neoguri (pronounced NUH-goo-ree). It’s sort of a Homer Simpson kind of dish, nevertheless it received in style. 

Chapagetti is ramen fashion noodles with black bean sauce. Neoguri is thicker udon fashion noodles with a spicy seafood taste. Mrs. Kim, I suppose, hadn’t heard of it as a result of she didn’t have a TV to see this system. 

Mrs. Park wished it with “sirloin,” which classed it up. That’s the interpretation. She actually says, “Hanoo,” which is excessive finish Korean beef, akin to Kobe. So think about making one thing like Honey Boo-Boo’s sketti with lobster. 

It’s not within the translation, however when Mrs. Park is telling Mrs. Kim to shortly make the noodles, she finishes by saying, “Combating,” which is a sort of cheer.

It’s a simple dish to make, and you will get the elements at most Asian and Korean grocery shops. It’s fairly salty. I had it the opposite night time at a bar throughout a BBQ tour. We ate the entire thing.

Stress Positions

stress positions

That is an old style option to punish youngsters. Have them kneel or stand with their arms up.

Moon-gwang then impersonates the well-known North Korean newscaster we all the time see.

Saeng Cream Cake

Mrs. Park talks about when Da-song was traumatized by the “ghost.” He noticed the ghost once we went all the way down to get some Saeng Cream Cake. It’s a well-liked cake in Korea that makes use of whipped cream for frosting. Recipe is right here.

Within the meantime, Mr. Kim and Geun-se are speaking about Geun-se’s life within the bunker. He talks about the way it’s dwelling. SO MANY DETAILS in these photographs that I’ll need to pause and pause to catch all of them. I significantly discovered it humorous the stack of used condom wrappers on a spike with two hopeful unused ones.


The floods hit. The Kims escape. Some say this can be a little too on the nostril, however so what. It confirmed the Kim’s happening and down the hills of Seoul to their half-basement. The trickle down of the wealthy’s filth reaching them. In outdated poorer areas, you see the spaghetti tangle of utility cables.

tangled wires

I’ve been in floods like this. In 2011, many people have been trapped in a neighborhood after a mudslide blocked all exits. Vehicles have been floating and all.

The Birthday Social gathering

All the things went to shit, as you recognize, for the Kims. The Jangma rains flooded their condominium as they narrowly escaped being caught. This isn’t a cultural level however some have been shocked in regards to the ending. Take note of the wording used when Mr. Kim helps Mrs. Park store for Da-song’s celebration in outlets his household would by no means enterprise. She talks about how refreshing and cleaning the rain is, once we know the way devastating it was to the Kim household. How the wealthy considered the rain contrasted so sharply from how Mr. Kim’s class considered it. 

“The sky’s so blue and no air pollution.” <–we do have air pollution points in Seoul

That’s when the knife struck down in his thoughts and completely break up him from the Parks. 

Word that every one the meals and drinks they put together for the social gathering are international–pasta, gratin, salmon steak. The Korean elite, particularly the nouveau riche, shun Korean meals and drinks after they wish to impress. 

Desk Preparations

Mrs. Park wished the birthday desk preparations to imitate Admiral Yi’s crane formation in defeating the Japanese navy–again within the Imjin Wars of 1592. 

One may REALLY be reaching out on a limb when she says Da-song’s tent is the Japanese warship. There have been accusations many instances that South Korea’s present elite has ties to collaborators throughout the Japanese colonial interval of the twentieth century. Eh–overlook I mentioned it.

The Vehicles


Any automobile that’s not Korean is taken into account luxurious. Mini Coops, Mercedes. When the friends arrive, one arrives in a black taxi, which is the most costly taxi on the market.

The Ending

I don’t have any extra delicate cultural notes for the jarring ending. Apart from this film actually portrays Seoul effectively with out even showcasing a single landmark. That’s what Seoul is in my view. It’s like Los Angeles– a metropolis with a really feel to it that doesn’t want landmarks. A residing respiratory creature.

One Remaining Word

Don’t be the daughter of actor Music Kang-ho in any film. They have an inclination to die.

This publish has gone by way of many edits and additions due to our wonderful neighborhood.Particular due to William Cho, Kent Matsuoka, Eugene Whong, Jieun Park, Andy Kim, Shawn Morrissey, Sam Henderson, Steven Ward, Rob Ouwehand, Karl Mamer, and Hayne Kim for serving to with the enhancing.

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