Why I Needed Parasite

The cast and crew of "Parasite," including Yang Jinmo, Han Jin Won, Kwak Sin Ae, Lee Ha Jun, Yang-kwon Moon, Song Kang Ho, Cho Yeo Jeong Lee Sun Kyun, and Bong Joon Ho arrive at the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/TNS)


I saw Parasite / 기생충 in a packed theater with a diverse crowd. Looking around, I never could’ve imagined a day in the States when such an audience would watch a movie in my language, with my people, telling our stories.

It really meant a lot to me. I have to tell you why.

I remember in middle school when someone assaulted me while yelling “you ch_nk yellow belly.” Someone shoving me in a hallway telling me to go back to where I came from. Multiple times someone would squint their eyes, do their version of an Asian accent, pose at me like Bruce Lee, all while high-fiving each other. Having to endure that scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, being told it was “art.” Someone in my college history class telling me that Korea needed to be nuked, and “it doesn’t matter which one.” I remember when my dad’s business was spray-painted with a swastika. I remember inexplicable rage when some kid yelled “your dad killed my dad in the war,” and his dad picking him up later after he was sent to detention.

Art, music, film, books: these things have the power to take away our fear, our bigotry, our assumptions. They turn masses into individuals. They turn cartoons into real people. For someone like me, I have to prove daily I am a real person. For art to put my story into public consciousness is allowing me more room to breathe, to exist.

A part of me wishes a movie like Parasite could’ve been accepted earlier. Seeing a face like mine on a big screen has an immense affect on how we see each other. But more than that, a good story, like the one in Parasite, makes us more human. Hearing more stories makes us better, more whole, more gracious. We need diverse stories, and good ones.

During the movie, I looked around. Seeing so many faces enraptured by a powerful story, taken in by faces that looked like mine, I wept. Certainly I wept because the movie was incredible. But I wept feeling something I never had before: a kinship with strangers. Humanization. The image of the divine, seen and known.

After the movie ended, we all sat in our seats for a while. Collectively, our breath was taken away. And collectively, we were sharing breath. Maybe I’m making too much of a movie. I suppose it’s a silly thing to weep about. It only tells me how long I have been deprived of such connection. These stories, they’re important to tell.

J.S.


This was posted on my Facebook here and Instagram here.


31 thoughts on “Why I Needed Parasite

  1. I did foresee a couple of Oscars, which I truly thought and think PARASITE deserves, talking of BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM and BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY, whilst if I had been in the Academy Jury I would not have awarded Parasite as the best movie of all, cause I don’t think it’s true, nor its director as superior to Scorsese with the Irishman or Mendes with 1917 or Waititi with Jojo Rabbit, sincerely. But the message this important and unexpectable recognition brings to the world goes beyond: give a chance to new faces, new talents, other cultures, other ways of working, different results, new objectives! and the States did it, but awarding Parasite so highly. Now if that happened in Italy I’d be so happy I can’t tell how much. So congrats to the Coreans and to Parasite, which is btw a great movie that makes you think deeply.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This movie was the most incredible piece of art I‘ve seen in a long time. During the movie I was alert (in a good way) and entertained every. single. second.
    As we walked out of the movies we felt like we just studied for 10 hours straight and were still stoked!! A real experience

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Korean movies have been underrated long enough. Films like Okja and Parasite will force Hollywood to admit that there is better art coming out of South Korea than their small town, to be honest. The intricate cinematography that has poured out of South Korea deserves recognition much more than HW’s brand of brash film-making.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Yes. To be fair, there is plenty of dreck that comes out of every movie industry, whether that’s Asia or UK or Hollywood. Every country and culture has its own hidden gems amidst their art mediums.

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      1. Absolutely. But I honestly feel like most of Hollywood has become very formulaic even when they are intending to be original. I’m thinking Crazy Rich Asians. Nothing could have been More “careful” for want of a better word than that movie which was supposed to “utilize the diverse faces” in the HW ranks.

        Like

  4. I watched the movie last year in September and I couldnt stop telling my friends to watch it because it is GOOD. As an avid korean drama and movie viewer, my friends thought i was suggesting something romantic and cute to them. Im sure they regret not watching it before it won major awards at the Academy. That day sure was a good day to be Asian. I feel so proud.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Powerful and insightful post! I have been living in Korea for many years now. Korean influence over the world started many years ago with the Samsung brand; this influence is getting wider and wider with K-Pop and now the film industry with movies such as Parasite (which is a master piece) and Train to Busan (which is also pure artistic mastery). I agree eith you artists of all disciplines such as actors, singers painters, writers have a lot of influence and responsibility in opening people’s mind.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. This is a beautiful piece. I haven’t seen the movie, yet. I appreciate your candidness. although I’m a white skinned person, I feel you. I am relieved things are changing and I hope the tides of change and acceptance continue to roll.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Enjoyed your post and resonate with the significance of seeing those like me projected onto the screen/ stage/ voiced on the radio/ on canvas etc I saw the universal in the details of Parasite. The human stories, the parallels, paradoxes that influences us all. I’m sorry for the horrendous experiences you suffered in the hands of those who are afraid, ignorant and powerful. I hope more such artworks are created to help bring us all closer together.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow – so beautifully written. I would be honoured if you took the time to visit my blog – ritisha.blog – where I have written a post about this year’s Academy Awards (in which I, of course, reference Parasite).

    Like

  9. Good post. Have not watched parasite. Maybe should watch it one day in Neflix, I am sure they have it.

    I feel your pain and experience. I am native Malaysian’s Chinese. Though I am the many generations since even before the independence but we are still having the feelings and treats like second citizen.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m very bummed out I haven’t watched Parasite yet. Everyone around me watched it so I didn’t have anyone to go to the theater with. And now all theaters are closed. Anyways I’m a Korean myself so I felt this post at heart. I’m glad you felt that Parasite had such a great impact, and I am looking forward to watching it even if it’s not at the theater. Stay up.

    Like

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