The South Korean entertainment industry has a lot to offer in terms of genres. For romance-diggers, there are sappy dramas. For thrill-seekers, there are nail-biters. And for the ones who like to introspect, there are shows and movies with amazing symbolism.
For instance, Squid Game and Parasite. In my opinion, the movie was way better than the show. In fact, the movie was way better than most movies of recent time.
So, I’d be wary of drawing a comparison based on overall writing and direction. However, there is one thing that connects the two and can be compared: Their commentary on financial inequality.
That’s an area where they have both succeeded, and how. Parasite, a cinematic masterpiece, is filled with subtle but effective metaphors.
For example, the elevation of the places people from different backgrounds live in. The employers, who are rich, live in a house raised above the ground.
Meanwhile, their staff members, people who are not rich, live in a basement.
Parasite (2019) and the use of elevation and stairs to tell a story about class structure and family pic.twitter.com/umJIObphfp— rin tin tin (@onceuponarintin) March 4, 2020
In Parasite (2019), stairs and vertical structures are a motif that runs through the entire film, which highlights the social divide between Parks and Kims. In fact, the director Bong Joon-ho called the project a “staircase movie” while filming it pic.twitter.com/28aKx1Pmwy— Movie Details (@moviedetail) July 23, 2020
The movie also shows how money changes people’s perceptions of things. Rain has been used to drive home this point.
In a widely discussed scene from the movie, a woman sits in the back of her car, and exclaims, “Today the sky is so beautiful, no pollution. Thanks to all the rain yesterday”.
Meanwhile, her driver is in deep thought. His house got completely drowned in water because of the rain.
i’m on that thin line between both scenes pic.twitter.com/Ugok3I4Y2u— Nikhil (@niquotein) August 6, 2020
Apart from these, director Bong Joon-ho, uses other physical barriers too, to show that there is always an invisible wall between the members of different classes, and how this wall limits them.
One of my absolute favorite things about PARASITE is how Bong Joon-ho used clever lines in the shots to visually illustrate the class divide and conflict(s) between the characters. Wonderful stuff. pic.twitter.com/UBBn1otqls— Lee ✊🏿 (@CleverLee_Dope) November 21, 2019
Squid Game, on the other hand, is out there with its messaging. The show is based on inequality and starts with an effective commentary on how far a person can go to drive themselves out of the pit of poverty.
Netflix’s biggest debut hit shows people under debt agreeing to play ‘games’ where they can potentially lose their lives, in order to earn money. They are that desperate and helpless.
And who are the organisers of the games? The rich and the elite, for whom this is ‘fun’.
Started watching Squid Game. I was not expecting the darkest of social allegories – and a drama satirising capitalism so ruthlessly.— Steve Buttercase (@SteveButtercase) October 4, 2021
Class divide. Illusory choice. Rigged systems. It’s all there.
So far so good. It might be a masterpiece.
The show tries to put into perspective what poverty does to people. It constantly asks the question – what would you do if you had to choose between food and morals?
In a particularly hard-hitting scene, the head of staff at the games kills a soldier who is set to give an advantage to one of the players. While killing him, the person says something to the effect of – in the outside world, they face inequality but that is not acceptable here. Here, everyone is equal.
Such brilliant writing there. The scene highlights the sad irony that the only time life is fair for these trapped people, is when they are facing death in the eye.
‘Squid Game’ is quality man. Simple , applicable to everyone: what would you do for money? Shows us the class divide and how race, gender and status transcends us. & there’s great foreshadowing techniques & some wavy shots. Easter egg galore for the screen nerds (like me).— King T’Chai Latte (@isthatscully) October 4, 2021
Both Parasite and Squid Game have their flaws (with the former having so few, you can count them on fingers), but they are pieces of art made with bravery, and that is something the world can learn.