Parasite (2019)

Brief Intro

Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-ho, is a 2019 South Korean dark comedy thriller that captivated audiences worldwide. The film brilliantly explores class disparity, societal norms, and the struggle for survival, all wrapped in a gripping and unpredictable narrative. With its intricate plot and masterful storytelling, Parasite won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Literary Devices Used in Parasite

Parasite is a treasure trove of literary devices. Here are ten notable ones, illustrated with specific scenes:

1. Symbolism

Movie SceneDevice Example
The Kim family in their semi-basement apartmentThe semi-basement symbolizes their lower socio-economic status.
The flood destroying the Kim family’s homeThe flood symbolizes the fragility and instability of their lives.

2. Irony

Movie SceneDevice Example
The Park family hiring the Kims, unaware of their connectionDramatic irony as the audience knows the truth, but the Parks do not.
Mr. Kim’s belief in a plan when everything goes wrongSituational irony highlighting the unpredictability of life.

3. Foreshadowing

Movie SceneDevice Example
The flood warning on the newsForeshadows the catastrophic flood that affects the Kim family.
Ki-woo receiving the scholar’s rockThe rock foreshadows both hope and impending danger.

4. Metaphor

Movie SceneDevice Example
The staircase in the Park’s houseRepresents the social hierarchy and class divide.
The scholar’s rockSymbolizes wealth and aspiration.

5. Juxtaposition

Movie SceneDevice Example
The lavish Park household versus the Kim’s cramped semi-basementHighlights the stark contrast between wealth and poverty.
The flood scene versus the Parks’ camping tripJuxtaposes the Kim’s disaster with the Parks’ carefree luxury.

6. Allusion

Movie SceneDevice Example
Ki-woo teaching Da-hye, referencing The Great GatsbyAlludes to the theme of the American Dream and unattainable wealth.
The Parks’ son dressing as an “Indian”References stereotypes and colonialism.

7. Irony

Movie SceneDevice Example
Mr. Park’s disdain for “crossing the line” while the Kims are under his noseSituational irony highlighting Mr. Park’s obliviousness.
The Parks’ dog eating steak while the Kims struggle for foodIrony in the depiction of excess and scarcity.

8. Motif

Movie SceneDevice Example
The repeated reference to “smell”The motif of smell signifies social status and discrimination.
Rain and water throughout the filmRepresents both cleansing and destruction.

9. Paradox

Movie SceneDevice Example
The Kims feeling victorious yet precariousTheir success is paradoxically fragile.
The basement dwellers feeling safe yet imprisonedThey are hidden and protected but also trapped.

10. Satire

Movie SceneDevice Example
The exaggerated wealth of the Park familySatirizes the excesses of the wealthy.
The absurdity of the Kim family infiltrating the Park householdSatire on social mobility and deception.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies

Ki-taek (Mr. Kim)

IronyMr. Kim’s optimistic outlook contrasts with the harsh realities he faces.
SymbolismHis role as a driver symbolizes his subservient position in society.

Chung-sook (Mrs. Kim)

JuxtapositionHer practical nature contrasts with the Park family’s naivety.
IronyHer background as a former athlete contrasts with her current situation.

Ki-woo (Kevin)

ForeshadowingReceiving the scholar’s rock foreshadows his aspirations and fate.
MetaphorHis role as an English tutor represents his desire for upward mobility.

Ki-jung (Jessica)

SymbolismHer art skills symbolize creativity and deception.
SatireHer false identity mocks the elitism of art education.

Park Dong-ik (Mr. Park)

IronyHis ignorance about the Kims’ scheme despite his keen sense of smell.
JuxtapositionHis wealth and power contrast with his lack of awareness and vulnerability.

Character Dynamics

The relationships between characters drive the narrative and themes in Parasite. For instance, the symbiotic yet parasitic relationship between the Kim and Park families exemplifies the film’s central theme of class struggle. The contrasting dynamics between Mr. Kim and Mr. Park highlight societal hierarchies, while the interactions within the Kim family showcase their unity and desperation.

Thematic Analysis

Social Class and Inequality

SymbolismThe semi-basement apartment and the Park’s house represent different social strata.
JuxtapositionThe contrasting living conditions of the Kims and Parks highlight inequality.

Deception and Morality

IronyThe Kims’ deceptive actions are morally ambiguous, leading to unexpected consequences.
ParadoxThe Kims’ dishonesty brings them temporary success but ultimate downfall.

Survival and Family

MetaphorThe scholar’s rock represents both hope and burden for the Kim family.
MotifThe recurring theme of smell ties into the survival instincts and societal judgment.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismVisual contrast in set designHighlights the disparity between the Kims’ and Parks’ living conditions.
IronyMusic and sound designJuxtaposes upbeat music with tense scenes to emphasize ironic situations.
ForeshadowingLighting and color paletteDark, foreboding lighting in the Kim’s home foreshadows their misfortune.
JuxtapositionCamera angles and perspectivesContrasting high and low angles to depict power dynamics.
MotifRepetitive sound cuesThe recurring use of rain and water sounds to signify cleansing and chaos.

Key Scene Analysis

Key Scenes

The Peach Allergy Scene

  • Scene Breakdown: Ki-jung uses peach fuzz to trigger the housekeeper’s allergy, leading to her dismissal. This scene exemplifies deception and the lengths the Kim family will go to infiltrate the Park household.
  • Link: Peach Allergy Scene

The Birthday Party Scene

  • Scene Breakdown: The climax of the film, where all secrets unravel during Da-song’s birthday party. This scene uses irony, foreshadowing, and symbolism to deliver a powerful message about the consequences of deception and societal inequality.
  • Link: Birthday Party Scene


To wrap up this comprehensive analysis of Parasite, here’s an interactive quiz to test your understanding of the literary devices used in the movie. Let’s see how well you’ve grasped the nuances of Bong Joon-ho’s masterpiece!


  1. Which literary device is used to highlight the contrasting living conditions of the Kim and Park families?
  2. What does the scholar’s rock symbolize in the film?
    • a) Wealth and aspiration
    • b) Despair and hopelessness
    • c) Power and control
    • d) Fear and danger
  3. How does the film use the motif of smell?
    • a) To indicate love and affection
    • b) To signify social status and discrimination
    • c) To highlight environmental issues
    • d) To depict happiness and joy
  4. Which character’s actions best illustrate the theme of deception?
    • a) Ki-taek (Mr. Kim)
    • b) Chung-sook (Mrs. Kim)
    • c) Ki-woo (Kevin)
    • d) Ki-jung (Jessica)
  5. What cinematic technique is used to enhance the literary device of foreshadowing?
    • a) Music and sound design
    • b) Lighting and color palette
    • c) Camera angles and perspectives
    • d) Visual contrast in set design

Answer key:

  1. b) Symbolism
  2. a) Wealth and aspiration
  3. b) To signify social status and discrimination
  4. d) Ki-jung (Jessica)
  5. b) Lighting and color palette