Why the Oscar-Winning Film ‘Parasite’ was a Global Hit

The highly praised film, Parasite (2019), directed by Bong Joon-ho, has undoubtedly had a profound influence on the global film industry and its audience. This South Korean dark comedy thriller has received numerous accolades and has become a topic of considerable discussion.

The cast of Parasite

As a foreign film, it has succeeded in overcoming the challenges that frequently hinder the reach and recognition of non-domestic films. In this article, we will examine the reasons behind Parasite’s meteoric rise to fame and how it became a global phenomenon.


Parasite is a thought-provoking exploration of social inequality, and the deeply entrenched divide between the rich and the poor. The movie focuses on two South Korean families, the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan, whose lives become intertwined through a series of manipulative events.

The story begins when Ki Woo, a young man from the impoverished Kim family, is recommended by his friend for a tutoring job at the lavish home of the Park family. Ki Woo, who adopts the English name Kevin, seizes this opportunity and quickly integrates himself into the household.

He soon devises a plan for the rest of his family members to infiltrate the Parks’ home by posing as highly skilled professionals. This newly formed relationship between the Kim and Park families is the catalyst for the events that unfold throughout the film.

As the plot progresses, the tension between the families escalates, with deception gradually consuming the Kims. The film takes a dark turn, leading to a violent and unexpected ending that leaves both families reeling. In the end, we’re left with a haunting reminder of the real reality of class discrimination.


The characters in Parasite are multi-dimensional, giving us an insightful look into the lives and motivations of two families from different social classes. The destitute Kim family consists of Ki Taek (Song Kang-ho), the father; Chung Sook (Jang Hye-jin), the mother; Ki Woo (Choi Woo-shik) and Ki Jung (Park So-dam), the daughter.

Ki Taek is a resourceful and opportunistic man who, despite his family’s dire financial circumstances, maintains a sense of optimism and determination. Chung Sook is a fiercely protective woman, who, like her husband, is willing to do whatever it takes to improve her family’s situation.

The kids of Parasite.

Ki Woo, or Kevin, is the catalyst for the events that unfold in the film. He is intelligent and ambitious but lacks the opportunities and resources to escape his family’s poverty. Ki Jung is an artistic and cunning individual who uses her creative talents to forge documents and deceive the Park family.

The wealthy Park family consists of Dong Ik (Lee Sun-kyun), the father and successful tech company CEO; Yeon Kyo (Cho Yeo-jeong), the naive and pampered mother; Da Hye (Jung Ji-so), the teenage daughter; and Da Song (Jung Hyun-jun), the precocious young son. Each member of the Park family represents a different aspect of the affluent lifestyle.

The ensemble cast of Parasite deliver understated yet strong performances that bring their quirky characters to life. The actors convey a sense of privilege and detachment, allowing the viewer to understand the stark contrast between their lives and those of the Kim family.

Writer-Director Bong Joon-ho

Bong Joon-ho, the acclaimed writer-director of Parasite, is a visionary filmmaker known for his ability to seamlessly blend elements of various genres to create a unique story. With a career spanning over two decades, Bong Joon-ho has established himself as a leading figure in the South Korean film industry.

In Parasite, Bong Joon-ho invites the viewer to question the societal structures that perpetuate inequality and discrimination. His exploration of class division and its consequences, as well as his indie film style, catapulted Parasite to global fame.

Bong Joon-Ho.
Courtesy of NPR


Parasite was produced on a modest budget of approximately $15 million, a fraction of the cost of many Hollywood blockbusters. Despite these financial constraints, the film’s production values are remarkably high, with exceptional cinematography. The success of Parasite proves that unique story and skilled direction is far more influential in creating a memorable film than a vast production budget.

Awards Nominations and Wins

Parasite has been widely recognized for its cinematic achievements, receiving numerous awards nominations and wins. The film made history at the 92nd Academy Awards, becoming the first non-English language film to win the coveted Best Picture award. In addition to this prestigious accolade, Parasite also won Best Director for Bong Joon-ho, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature Film.

The cast of Parasite and their many awards.

The film’s success at the Oscars was not an isolated achievement; it garnered accolades at various other prestigious film festivals and award ceremonies, including the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, and the BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language.

A Global Phenomenon

The widespread acclaim and recognition for Parasite has transformed it into a global phenomenon, distinguishing it from other foreign films of its genre. The film’s international success can be attributed, in part, to the marketing strategies employed to promote it.

High-profile endorsements from respected figures in the entertainment industry, such as Jordan Peele, have helped to elevate Parasite‘s status and increase its visibility. The film’s numerous awards have further bolstered its reputation, drawing the attention of a wider audience.

Parasite and Its Impact on the Film Industry

The success of Parasite had a profound impact on the film industry, both within Korea and internationally. Its triumph at the Oscars sparked renewed interest in foreign-language films, challenging the idea that such films cannot achieve widespread recognition. Parasite highlights the importance of the film industry’s investment in diversity, and proves that foreign-language films can absolutely achieve global success and acclaim.