Hungkat’s review published on Letterboxd:
**Mild Spoilers Ahead**
Rich vs Poor
When looking at the lives of the poor, rich people would only feel pity, maybe show a little compassion but they would not understand it. They can bestow favors to the needy by compensating them for their services and saying a few words of encouragement to make the less fortunate feel better. The rich can only do so much. Let’s just say you go downtown and you give a beggar that you spot scrounging on the pavement a few pennies as a way to express sympathy for their hardship but you do not understand what it is like having to beg for money to live. No matter how generous the rich may be, the gap between them and the poor can never be abridged but instead widens as time goes on. Mr. Park has drawn an invisible line for himself so that he could establish spatial awareness between him and his employee - "we're paying you overtime, so think of it as part of your work" - and in the meantime building a hierarchal structure that separates him and his family, the 1%, from the rest. However, the parasite(s) do not get this because they forever need a host to latch onto. So once their spaces become overlapped, things are only going to get uglier and violence is bound to happen. It’s inevitable. It’s inescapable. Even if the Kims didn’t set their feet over the line, their smells would eventually find a way to cross over to the Parks and the Parks comments would also find their way back to the Kims.
Poor vs Poor
Money is everything. Money can change a person. Money can iron out all the creases. If you had money, you’d be kinder. Money is what we fight for despite knowing that it’s a double-edged sword. It pits the needy against each other in a game of survival. So when Mrs. Kim compares her husband to a cockroach that scampers away whenever the owner switches on the lights, she pares the sad truth to its bone. The reaction of Mr. Kim when he hears this remark is genuine and his anger begins to take shape - Anger rubbed off, reddened by shame and so when he says, “I fooled you didn't I?” while the other family members try to laugh it off only further proves the point. The conflict that later arises between them and the other poor family (basement dwellers) in the second half of the film is like a tug of war between rats and roaches. Since these two sides are both standing on the same bottom rung of the hierarchy, there is still a sense of sympathy residing among these people, and unlike the rich, this level of sympathy developed because of their mutual understanding of the opposite party. They are all the same, badly off, rotten in the ground with the subway smells obstinately clinging onto their clothes, their flesh. I've fallen head over heels with how Bong portrayed poverty, but I wondered if the movie managed to emotionally affect the 1 percenters who have seen the film as hard as it hit the other 99% - Rich people may flash a little compassion at the poor, but they can never understand them.
“They are rich but still nice”
“They are nice because they are rich. If I had all of this I would be kinder”