Parasite: keywords in the movie Koreans can understand!

By Mia Kim / February 25, 2020
Parasite

Parasite review: The keywords in the movie that Koreans can understand!

The world’s attention has been focused on the Oscar-winning Parasite, a Korean black comedy that is a tumultuous encounter between the poor Kim family and a poor family who live in luxury. What is noteworthy about this film is a contemporary Korean film, therefore, there are many keywords in the movie that Koreans can understand. Here we gather the keywords! If you want to understand more, read this article and watch Parasite again (if you haven’t seen it already).

SPOILER WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN PARASITE 

Parasite

반지하 Banjiha; Semi-basement 

The poor Kim’s family lives in a semi-basement flat which is known as Banjiha in South Korea, with “Ban” meaning “semi” and “Jiha” meaning “basement” in Korean. The semi-basement is a unique residential space which contains the reality of Korea’s division of North Korea and South Koran and its rapid growth in Korea.

The history of the semi-basement dates back to 1970, after the Korean War, the Korean government revised building laws to make the basement mandatory when building new buildings to be used for military purposes such as bomb shelters or camps. Initially, it was used only for warehouse purposes and was not inhabited. However, in the process of rapid urbanisation and population concentration, poor people who lived in rural areas were placed in the semi-basement when they moved to the city. 

Parasite

아이피타임 ipTIME

When Kim’s family was searching for a WiFi signal at the beginning of the movie, Ki-Woo said “Ki-Jung! The upstairs neighbour finally locked up his iptime WiFi”. The “iptime” is a Korean company’s brand name of networking devices including WiFi routers, and the market share of iptime routers is top in Korea. The fact that they have a good knowledge of the iptime more likely to be unencrypted, is the wisdom learned from data hunting. Especially for Koreans who have experienced this kind of scene, it is a moment to be laughed at.

카카오톡 KakaoTalk; WhatsApp 

As soon as Kim’s family found free WiFi, they directly checked onto Katalk (KakaoTalk)  and called the messenger. It was translated into” WhatsApp” in the movie. KaKaoTalk is the most popular messaging app in South Korea. In the past, when SMS text messaging was so burdensome, the emergence of KakaoTalk was shocking. Due to the fact that text can be used for free with a smartphone in Korea, the reason why many people bought a smartphone was to use KakaoTalk.

독도는 우리땅 Jessica song

The melody from that little song Jessica (Kijung) sings, before entering the rich family’s house, most Korean kids are familiar with. Because it is a famous national Korean song Dokdo Is Our Land, which is about a land dispute between Japan and Korea. Actually, it is also used as a memorisation song to prepare for an exam.

Jessica song / Original Jessica song

혜화역 3번 출구 Hyehwa Station Exit 3

After visiting the rich family, their driver Mr Yoon wanted to get to Jessica’s house, but she told him to drop off at “Hyehwa Station Exit 3”. Hyehwa Station Exit 3 is commonly known as a place where students at Seoul National University (Oxford University) and doctors working at Seoul National University Hospital make appointments with their friends. In addition, Hyehwa Station refers to Park’s house in Seongbuk-dong. In fact, Seongbuk-dong is a place where a rich village is formed, as shown in the movie, and the gap between the rich and the poor is clearly contrasted depending on the location.

짜파구리 Jjapaguri; Ram-don

There was a moment when a Park’s housewife interrupts a rainy drive home with her husband and two children to phone her just-hired, low-income housekeeper, instructing her to cook a pot of ram-don in eight mins for her little son. The ram-don, which is known as Jjapaguri in South Korean, is a dish of mixing two different flavours of instant noodles Jjapaghetti and Neoguri. The ram-don is also a recipe known from the internet community and has been popular with Koreans for a long time. Although it is not clear about the time when it first appeared in Korea, it is believed that the origin was also made by soldiers of the military as it is a food spread being popular among military soldiers. 

Official Jjapaguri RecipeWhere to buy ingredients for Jjapaguri in Dublin

Parasite

미제 Mize; American products

Due to heavy rain, Dasong (Park’s son), unable to camp, decides to set up a tent in the garden. When Park worried that it might rain in Dasong’s toy tent, Park’s wife said, “That tent is Mize. I think it should be okay. ” Mize is commonly referred to as American products in Korea. After the Korean War, the country was heavily influenced by the United States and lived off military surplus supplied to the US-supported products and markets. After the war, the quality of Korean products was poor, so there was always an image that American products were better than Korean products for many Koreans.

Parasite

대만 카스테라 Taiwanese cake shop 

The Taiwanese cake shop mentioned in the film is the reason for being poor to two poor families. If you’re Korean, immediately know what that is. A lot of people who lost their jobs gathered money to open these franchise cake shops, and it was a huge trend for a while, but the businesses all failed, pretty much at the same time. So a lot of people suffered from these failures; it was a big economic incident in South Korean society.

Now, here we are! How many keywords in Parasite have you known? or Do you have any question while watching the movie? If you have, you are in luck! Here is a Korean expert. Please leave your curiosity in the comments. Also If you want to know more about the director, Bong Joon-ho, his previous film is scheduled to be screened at the East Asian Film Festival next month in Dublin. More info

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Mia Kim

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