Life Lessons from the Korean Movie “Parasite”

Life lessons from the Korean Movie Parasite

If you haven’t seen the movie, Parasite, give yourself a treat and do so while you’re on quarantine. The Korean black comedy-thriller was the biggest winner at the Oscars this year, winning five awards, including Best Picture.

The story is about an impoverished family, the Kims, who lived in a crampy semi-basement apartment. One after another, they con their way out of poverty by becoming the servants of a wealthy family, the Parks, who happen to live in a luxurious mansion.

When the Park family decides to leave and go camping for the weekend, the Kim family take the opportunity. They spend the night to binge drink and party in the huge mansion while they are away.

But things didn’t go as planned when the fired ex-housekeeper rang the doorbell to claim something she really wanted back and the Parks canceled their trip due to a rainstorm. And it gets complicated quickly once threats of exposure is brought in.

Every movie has lessons that we can all learn from, and this movie is no exception. One is that the huge gap between the rich and the poor exist everywhere and not just in America, and it’s not purely monetary.

Here are the life lessons we can learn from the movie.

The poor can be greedy too, especially when the rich becomes gullible.

First, it was the son, Ki-woo, who ends up becoming the English tutor of the Parks’ daughter after presenting his photoshopped credentials. Next is the sister, Ki-jung, who ends up becoming the art therapist of the Parks’ young boy, Da-song, after being introduced by Ki-woo as the highly in-demand “acquaintance” who studied in America.

Now that both Kim children are getting paid handsomely, they could have stopped here to help their parents put food on the table. Instead, they took advantage of the gullible Mrs. Parks, resorting to sinister means to have the chauffeur and stay-in housekeeper fired, making way for their parents to take their place.

The rich don’t have a monopoly on greed albeit maybe at a bigger scale.

The rich dreams, plans, and implements while the poor only dreams.

The Kim siblings and their father end up in a homeless shelter after they’ve discovered that their own house got flooded by the rainstorm. When asked by his son if he has a plan, Mr. Kim responded, “having no plan is the best plan.” Perhaps because he was afraid of failure or has totally given up.

Fueled by alcohol, the family previously daydreamed of someday living in the Parks’ mansion, especially that the son is now in a secret relationship with the Parks’ daughter.

Mr. Park, the “C.E.O. of the Year”, who runs a successful tech company obviously didn’t get rich by simply dreaming. Rich people start with a dream, and details out a plan that can be put into action. Success only comes when detailed plans are properly executed in a timely fashion.

In contrast, the Kims can’t even fold pizza boxes correctly— their initial source of income, early in the movie. It’s no wonder they are having a hard time to get ahead in life.

The rich don’t just consume, they invest wisely.

The Parks may be living a lavish lifestyle, but that’s the result of hard work and investing wisely in public and private businesses. Even if you don’t run a company, you too can get wealthy by investing your hard earned money into public companies, so you can benefit from their growth.

But unless you happen to have rich parents, you can’t invest without starting capital. And the surest way to achieve that is by investing in one’s self through education. Education is the key to escaping poverty and moving up in society as the lack of education often closes doors on high paying jobs.

Mr. and Mrs. Parks know very well the value of education, which is why they invest in tutors to supplement their kids’ learning.

The Parks Family

Don’t buy too much house (and furniture).

Nothing wrong with living in a lavish house that you can very much afford. But the Parks bought a house that is probably too big for their own good.

For one thing, they are unaware of a secret passageway in the basement behind one of the shelves that leads to a bunker meant as a refuge in case of nuclear fallout with the North Koreans. Especially that it’s mentioned in the movie that it’s quite common in rich people’s houses in South Korea.

In one scene, when the Parks who decided to sleep on the couch downstairs so they can watch their young son, who is camping outside their house, through the window. Unbeknownst to the couple, the Kim siblings and their father are hiding under one huge table right in front of them while they are asleep.

If I were the owner, I would study the house’s blueprint, history, and inspect every nook and cranny before I move in. Not to mention avoid buying furniture that intruders can easily hide under while you’re having sex.

Avoid debt like a plague.

One of the hair-raising scenes in the movie is when the Kims discover that the previous housekeeper is keeping a “parasite”— her heavily indebted husband who has been living in the mansion’s secret bunker for four years to keep him safe from loan sharks who are determined to kill him.

The saying that the borrower is a slave to the lender is actually an understatement if your creditors are trying to get rid of you. As with investments, debts that are not repaid can also compound— you become poorer every day until it kills all your hopes and dreams.

Sadly, it is Mr. Kim, who ends up living in the bunker to hide from authorities to escape paying the debts he committed against society after a violent encounter with Mr. Parks.

Give the poor the respect they deserve.

We can help the poor by treating them with respect. The poor are robbed of their dignity and often made to understand that they should be grateful for the help. This probably explains Geun-sae’s (the man living in the bunker) strange ritual of giving thanks to Mr. Park— through morse-code— by manipulating light switches in the basement.

As kind as the Parks were to the Kims by giving them opportunities, Mr. Park has shown this is largely superficial. Deep inside him, he despises their smell, figuratively and literally. When Mr. Kim’s daughter was stabbed by the deranged and wild-eyed Geun-sae, Mr. Park didn’t even offer to call an ambulance, let alone rush his dying daughter to the hospital.

Mr. Kim realizes that, in Mr. Park’s eyes, they are nothing but lowly servants that live at the whim of the Parks. They will never earn the respect that he thinks they deserve from the Parks. It’s at this moment that Mr. Kim stabs Mr. Park, which ultimately cost him his life.

You may have everything in the world, including the “C.E.O. of the Year” title, but if you don’t treat people with respect, karma always gets you in the end.

Karma is a bitch.
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