DIVIDE AND CONQUER
Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winning thriller Parasite masterfully portrays the striking differences between the lives of those who have, and those who have not.
CREATING THE DIVIDE
With four Oscar wins underbelt, it’s no surprise that everybody is talking about director Bong Joon Ho’s tragedy slash comedy thriller Parasite. At its core, the highly lauded tale is one that brings together two families from the very opposite spectrums of wealth, showcasing just how players from two very different worlds can cohabitate.
Production Designer Lee Ha Jun created multiple sets (the Kim mansion itself occupies four separate sets!) under the direction of Oscar-winning director Bong Joon Ho to serve the visual purposes of the film. The story is told, not merely from the actors’ standpoint, but also from a visual perspective; the Park house is all at once luxurious with the understated elegance so often favoured by the nouveau riche, whilst the tiny sub-basement apartment shared by the four struggling members of the Kim family is predominantly messy, with an excess of ‘stuff’ as opposed to the clinical, clean absence of it.
A MODERN SPACE
In contrast to the green-tinted lighting that dominates the compact basement home of the Kim family, the luxuriously expansive abode of the Parks is awash in warm, elegant yellow lighting. This distinctive lighting choice serves well to highlight the different lives led by both the affluent
Parks and the struggling Kims. While yellow serves to highlight the comfortable lifestyle and situation afforded of the formers’ home, the harsh, unyielding tones of green serve to light up every imperfection within the Kim household, which receives little to no natural light, in the most uncomfortable of ways.
EVOKING LIFESTYLES AND PERSONALITIES
In playing ‘host’ to the varied cast of characters in Parasite, the sprawling Park mansion was nonetheless required to be open for the purpose of filming. Because ‘overhearing’ and ‘eavesdropping’ occurs throughout, it was important for Production Designer Lee Ha Jun to build the spaces accordingly. Essentially, the onus was on him to create a space in which characters could live and hide around one another, facilitating the thriller-style storytelling sequences of the movie in a way that would engage the viewer and invite them in. This meant that everything had a place, and the smallest detail was meticulously and carefully planned—down to the smells within the Kim’s underground home!
GOING BIG WITH ART
The Parasite team also opted to evoke status with the generous use of art. Korean artist Seung-mo Park’s work is shown in the minimalist, open living room of the Parks’ mansion; made of wire mesh, the piece depicts a calm, stainless steel forest that is perfectly played off against the lush green grounds, which yet again evoke feelings of wealth and a quiet, gentle opulence that many can only aspire to.