The story starts with a private college tutor asking his friend to replace him as he is going to be an exchange student because he falls in love with his student and does not want anyone else to tutor her. Therefore, this friend Ki-woo, who has failed the college entrance exam many times, asks his younger sister Ki-jung to fake his college certificate and passes the interview with the mother of the student, who is in a rich family. When he hears the mother thinks hiring an art teacher to teach her misbehaved son, he seizes the chance to recommend his own sister but without revealing their relationship. His sister, who is even more badass, frames the drive of this rich family so their father, Mr. Kim, can be introduced to this family as a driver. And they also frame the housemaid together so their mother, Mrs. Kim, can replace her.
The whole poor family who lived in a tiny, dirty semi-basement now all work for a rich family with pretending they don’t know each other. Everything looks going well, however, as the whole poor family lives in the big house when the rich family goes out for camping, the former housemaid breaks their sweet dream. The former housemaid claims she has something left in the basement and spends a long time thereafter Mrs. Kim allows her to enter. But what the former housemaid leaves in the house is her husband, who is hidden in a secret basement chamber down the house where only the former housemaid knows its existence because she was also the housemaid of the former owner of the house. Although the former housemaid begs Mrs. Kim to help take care of her husband since they are all poor, she wants to expose them after she knows the four of them are related and she loses her job because of them.
Things go ugly right after that, and what is worse, the rich family is on their way back home because the rain ruins their camping. The former housemaid, unfortunately, is killed accidentally during the chaos. And three of the poor family are stuck under the living room table as the rich house owner and his wife make out and sleep in the living room. And Mr. Kim hears the house owner despising him like a rat.
The next day is the birthday of the son of the rich house owner, and the whole poor family is invited, as their employees of course. When the rich family and the guests celebrate at the yard, Ki-woo intends to kill the former housemaid and her husband. He, however, is nervous and clumsy, which makes him being killed, but survived, by the husband. After knocking Ki-woo out, the husband busts into the yard with a knife and sticks into Ki-jung’s chest. The husband keeps killing around but eventually stopped and killed by Mrs. Kim when Mr. Kim is trying to save his daughter. And the rich house owner approaches the dead body of the husband to pick up his car keys for his passing-out son, but he pinches his nose and despises the filth dead body. Unfortunately, Mr. Kim sees that and he suddenly goes mad; he picks up the knife and sticks it into the chest of the house owner. All because the house owner despises the poors like they are cockroaches.
In the end, the sister is dead, the brother recovers with his mother taking care of him, and the father hides in the secret basement using the house lights to send out Morse Code to his son, who had been a scout. And the son luckily sees the Morse Code and makes his mind to be rich so someday he can buy that big house and frees his father.
In the past decade, Korea has become one of the richest countries in the world, their K-pop, K-drama, Samsung, LG, etc. are well-known all over the world. Such a great outcome, however, is the price of sacrificing its own people who live on the bottom of society. This movie tells the story of a poor family in a comedy tone, but it’s actually pretty sad to see there are people living in that way just to survive while some are wasting our limited resources in the world.
Unlike Joker, the director of Parasite, Bong Joon Ho who also created Snowpiercer and Okja and is a super excellent storyteller, is brilliant to tell the same kind of story of the poors in a comedy tone, which stands out not only the movie itself but the issues he wants to talk about. When the audience watches the movie, they may not laugh even the plot is funny because what happens to the poor family and the former housemaid and her husband are pitiable, even though there are some illegal behaviors. But that’s the fact not only in Korea but the whole world, many people have to commit crimes to survive when the people who never experience starvation say there are always choices. Sometimes, there is not, it’s either death or crime because human beings need to eat and the body won’t stop consuming energy just because today you are poor.
No one in the story deserves what happened to them, but it is life- which is never fair. In Korea, you either work for big corps or you are a loser because the government invests a lot resources on them not on its own people. The same thing in the US, tons of people are suffering when the 1% are getting richer. Hopefully, the audience and rich ones wouldn’t only just watch the movie but truly understand the message from this movie and do something to prevent our world from getting worse.