jack’s review published on Letterboxd:
The opening of Bong Joon-ho's magnum opus, "Parasite," sees the Kim family (consisting of a father, mother, son, and daughter) living underground in a basement apartment. The walls are stained with dirt and rubble, the bathroom is cramp and claustrophobia (which could easily be said for the entire living space), and the family, poor as can be, can't seem to find themselves holding down a job in order to pay for food, water, and other expenses.
Move past the Kim hut, we pan over the town that the Kim family lives in and we see one house that stands on the hill, looking down upon its weaker citizens: This is the Park mansion, home of the park clan (consisting of, you guessed it, a father, mother, son, and daughter). In comparison to the Kim family, they're extremely well off; it's almost ridiculous on how wealthy of a family they are and how different they are to the Kim family. Hell, they've even got the same structure of family: A father, mother, son, and daughter.
The two families don't really come in contact with each other until the 30 (or so) minute mark; Kim Ki-woo has become, in thanks to his friend, the tutor of the Park girl, Da-hye, and through several observations, notes how he and his family can benefit from the Park's overwhelming surplus of wealth: Fire the workers and trick them into hiring his family. Because the Kim family aren't happy with their lifestyles and dream of changing it; they want the house on the hill, living with no worries. And the only way they can survive and even attempt this dream is trick the Park's.
And this, when realizing this, is where Bong Joon-ho's title of the film begins to make sense; the title being "Parasite" reveals a double meaning and both pertain to the Kim's and the Park's. The simple definition of a parasite, according to online (for this context), says that a parasite is "a person who habitually relies on or exploits others and gives nothing in return," which for the idea of the movie, brings up the question of whether the Kim's are the parasites thriving off of the Park's or if it's the other way around.
It's very easy to jump to the argument that the Kim's are the ones that are feeding off of the Park's (and in many scenes, reveal themselves as desperate enough to do anything to keep this trickery under control); they've lied to the Park's in order to get jobs, causing innocent people to get fired or pointless positions to get created. They do rely on the Park's in order to survive financially, they've latched onto them and won't let anything stop that from breaking. That being said, it's also something to note (and I think the REAL reason Bong has this called "Parasite") is because the Park's are the ones who're the so called parasites of life.
This is probably obvious if you've seen the movie, but I think it still requires some sort of explanation as to what exactly the film (not the title) is about: The class deference and struggle that lies between them. The Park's see their longing for houseworkers as a sort of status of their wealth and use these people and turn them into some sort of property and can easily argue that by (unintentionally) hiring the Kim's, they can conclude that they're giving work to people who need it. But that idea is diminished when Mr. and Mrs. Park complain about how the Kim's smell and even more towards the end of the picture involving said smell and Mr. Park; they no longer view them as people, but as a possession for the mere fact that they're rich.
But here's the kicker, says Bong: The Park's (and everyone else who scowls at their houseworkers and employees) depend on them for normal, everyday human tasks, tasks they've neglected to learn. In one scene, Mr. Park notes on how he and his wife can't cook and another shows Mrs. Park struggling to load a dishwasher. They've become the parasites latching onto the Kim's for menial tasks and normal human functions; it's actually quite pathetic and also sad because Bong's film depicts a subtle reality for people who slave over people just to find out that they don't really value them as people, but as movable furniture for the house.
I think knowing this makes the outcome of "Parasite" more tragic and upsetting. But leaving that, everything you've heard about the movie is true: It's one of the funniest, tensest, darkest, and bleakest films of the year, with Bong encompassing many different genres - from the Hitchcockian thriller to the most warped black comedy - into the framework of this film. It's almost unbelievable at how well crafted and balanced this thing is; there's not a single misstep in Bong's craft and to call this his best work yet would be an understatement.