Visualization of Social Inequality in South Korea in Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite

Conference: The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film (MediAsia2022)
Title: Visualization of Social Inequality in South Korea in Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite
Stream: Film and Literature: Artistic Correspondence
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Yelline Loviany Tasya, Maranatha Christian University, Indonesia
Trisnowati Tanto, Maranatha Christian University, Indonesia


Social inequality in South Korea is considered a huge problem that has been rising over these past decades. Known as one of the poorest countries in the aftermath of the Second World War, South Korea’s economic growth soared significantly in the early 1960s through rapid industrialization and export-led development, turning South Korea into a developed country in a short period. However, the rapid economic growth initiates the highly competitive job markets that cause a high unemployment rate and worse income distribution, generating massive contrasts in social hierarchies among South Koreans. The upper-class societies, embodied by chaebols, South Korea’s large conglomerates, dominate 60 percent of the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product), while the rest are filled up by the middle-class and lower-class societies. Terms referred to the rising inequality in South Korea, such as "Hell Chosun" and "Spoon Class Theory", are widely spread, implying South Koreans’ deep sentiments on this issue. One of the most intelligible indicators which contributes to stipulating a considerable contrast between social classes belongs to the existence of housing preference between the upper-class and lower-class societies, exposed in an Oscar-winning South Korean film, Parasite (2019), directed by Bong Joon-ho. This film contains various implied signs and symbols related to the vertical comparison of high and low which depicts a vast disparity between the upper-class and lower-class families, represented by their housing conditions, which stands for the reality of social gaps in South Korea that reveals the existence of social inequality.

Virtual Presentation

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