Arguably one of the years most unexpected and thrilling films, Parasite surprised many with it’s hilarious and haunting portrayal of the class divide between two Korean families. But at the heart (and spoiler alert) centre of this story was the unique home in which the majority of the film took place. As Bong himself describes it, the house is “it’s own universe inside this film”.
Director Bong Joon Ho wanted to generate a space that was symbolic of the social inequality with the Park and Kim families, and as such he produced the most significant ‘character’ in the movie – the ultra-modernist residence of the Park family. Amazingly, this house is not real but instead was built from scratch into four crafted set pieces created by the production designer Lee Ha Jun.
Within the film, this contemporary house is designed by a fictional architect Namoong Hyeonja. The space is minimalistic, uncluttered and pristine, with floor to ceiling glass windows and well-ordered furnishings with clean lines. An extreme modern space, plentiful with daylight and natural wood – it demonstrates the sophistication and chic taste of it’s inhabitants. There are no bright colours, instead a focus on dark woods, grey tones and warm natural materials. The opulent furnishings are sophisticated and fashionable even down to the smaller décor details, such as the art on the walls which include a stainless-steel piece by Korean artist Seung-Mo Park.
The house is a commentary on the class divide between these two families, as the wealthy Park’s live at the city’s highest peak in this elevated fortress, whilst the poor Kim family live in a cramped basement flat that is bug bombed and flooded. The architecture and design of the house is utilised to deliver the film’s troubling and plaguing message. Bong terms it best as he explains “houses usually should feel very mundane, cosy and comfortable. And when that is threatened that is when we feel the most fear”.