'Parasite': Bong Joon-ho reveals double-meaning behind the title of 2019's most buzzed-about film

Kevin Polowy
·2-min read

As we know by now, Parasite is not a sequel to The Host, Bong Joon-ho's 2006 breakout film about a monster that emerges that emerges from the Han River in Seoul, South Korea and starts attacking people. But the Oscar-nominated writer-director understands why it could've initially been perceived that way.

"Because of the title, a lot of people in the international community mistook this film as a sci-fi film," Joon-ho says, aided by a translator, in a clip from a Q&A available on the film's new home entertainment release (watch exclusively above).

Even in Bong-ho's native South Korea, the title of the critically adored film – a dark comedic thriller about a despondent family of four who scheme their way into jobs working in a wealthy household – proved tricky. “[It] was considered almost a little risky and dangerous, particularly the marketing team was pretty hesitant because in Korea the word 'parasite' has a very realistic and negative connotation."

As for whom exactly the title refers to, it's not so simple.

Read more: Parasite named film of the year

"Because the story is about the poor family infiltrating and creeping into the rich house, it seems very obvious that Parasite refers to the poor family, and I think that's why the marketing team was a little hesitant," Joon-ho said.

A still from Bong Joon Ho's <i>Parasite</i>. (Curzon)
A still from Bong Joon Ho's Parasite. (Curzon)

"But if you look at it the other way, you can say that rich family, they're also parasites in terms of labour. They can't even wash dishes, they can't drive themselves, so they leech off the poor family's labour. So both are parasites."

In other words, it's all so metaphorical.

Curzon is holding Parasite special previews plus live satellite Q&A with BAFTA and Oscar-nominated Director Bong Joon Ho on 3 February. Bong Joon Ho will be appearing live at Curzon Mayfair with over 140 cinemas taking part, allowing film fans nationwide to be involved. Tickets are on-sale now.

The satellite stream will include British Sign Language interpretation and an on-screen live speech to text service so that event is accessible to hard of hearing and deaf audiences.

Parasite then goes on general release in cinemas nationwide from Friday 7 February.