SEOUL – The black comedy Parasite is a story of two South Korean households – the rich Parks and the poor Kims – mirroring the deepening inequality in Asia’s fourth-largest financial system.
The movie made historical past as the primary non-English language film to win the Oscar for finest image on Sunday, prompting South Korean social media to erupt in celebration.
The movie’s message resonated with many South Koreans who determine themselves as “filth spoons”, these born to low-income households who’ve all however given up on proudly owning a good home or climbing the social ladder, versus “gold spoons”, who’re from better-off households.
Whereas inequality in South Korea isn’t essentially worse than many different nations, the idea has exploded onto the political scene lately amid runaway residence costs and a stagnating financial system, undermining assist for President Moon Jae-in.
Moon, in his congratulatory message, mentioned Parasite had “moved the hearts of individuals all over the world with a most uniquely Korean story”.
However the movie’s message is a pointy critique of South Korea’s trendy society, and director Bong Joon-ho turned to many acquainted scenes round Seoul to focus on the divide between town’s haves and have-nots.
Throughout South Korea the divide is seen as a few of the outdated neighbourhoods of crumbling brick slums distinction with the gleaming high-life of Seoul’s extra swanky spots.
The movie makes use of a lot of these visible cues as an example the competitors happening in society, and the typically “parasitic” relationships between the wealthy and poor.
“The uncomfortable exchanges within the film sparked combined emotions by hitting a sore spot in society and pitting the wealthy in opposition to the poor,” mentioned Kim Chang-hwan, a 35-year-old Seoul resident.
South Korea’s financial inequality is larger than many members of the Organisation for Financial Cooperation and Improvement (OECD), on par with Britain and Latvia, and has worsened lately.
Nonetheless, its Gini coefficient, a generally used measure of how evenly revenue is distributed throughout the inhabitants, is healthier than locations comparable to the USA, based on the OECD.
However after years of financial progress that powered the nation’s restoration from the 1950-53 Korean Battle, South Korean’s financial future is extra unsure, inflicting rising considerations for a lot of.
A 2019 survey by the federal government affiliated Korea Institute for Well being and Social Affairs discovered greater than 85 per cent of South Korean respondents felt there have been “very huge” revenue gaps in society and folks wanted to be from a rich household to be able to achieve success.
Younger folks have turn into particularly pessimistic amid a extremely aggressive training system and job market.
That has despatched assist for Moon plummeting to as little as 45 per cent in early February, as his youthful supporters categorical dissatisfaction with their financial prospects. Whereas Moon is constitutionally barred from operating once more, a key parliamentary election is because of be held in April, posing a take a look at for his ruling celebration.
In Parasite, one character fakes a diploma for her brother to get a job as a tutor for a wealthy household.
The scene reminded some South Koreans of an ongoing scandal that led to the resignation of Justice Minister Cho Kuk.
Cho resigned in December and is being prosecuted for falsifying paperwork concerning household investments and efforts to realize college admissions for his youngsters. He has denied wrongdoing.
“Parasite’s win is a extremely good thing, but it surely was bitter to see the daddy impressed together with his youngsters’s forgery expertise and their plans to get the roles,” one Twitter person wrote, referring to one of many primary characters.
The scandal struck a chord in South Korea the place younger folks, who compete furiously by means of college and college, are more and more discovering themselves scrambling for a dwindling variety of positions in a slack job market, in a system they see as stricken by systemic unfairness and biased in favour of the elite.
The problem was a selected disappointment to the younger individuals who supported Moon and his celebration when he turned president on a platform of cleansing out corruption within the authorities and enterprise.