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Film / Parasite (2019)

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"It's like a, what should I call it... a belt of faith."
Park Yeon-kyeo

Parasite is a 2019 South Korean tragicomedy thriller film directed by Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Snowpiercer, Okja). It premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and was released in South Korean theaters on May 30 of that year.

The film centers around the Kims, a very poor family of four consisting of unemployed driver Ki-taek, his wife Chung-sook, his daughter Ki-jeong and his son Ki-woo. Both children are in their early twenties, and they are also unemployed and not in school due to financial difficulties.

One day, Ki-woo's friend Min sets him up to tutor the teenage daughter of a very wealthy family, the Parks. Realizing that the Park family is gullible, the Kims decide to use them to gain social mobility: Ki-woo recommends his sister, who recommends her father, who recommends his wife, each one presenting fake credentials and pretending not to be members of the same family. The plan to insinuate themselves into the Parks' lives works like a charm, with the whole Kim family achieving the success that's always been denied to them, but everything is put at risk when lies unravel and class tensions threaten to boil over.


In January 2020, Bong Joon-ho announced that he and Adam McKay would develop a six-hour miniseries based on the film for HBO.

Please put single-character tropes on the character sheet.

Parasite provides examples of:

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    Tropes A to D 
  • Accidental Murder: When Chung-sook kicks Moon-gwang down a flight of stairs. It's not the fall that kills her, but the concussion she suffers from as a result.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The final scene left viewers wondering if Ki-woo would one day work hard, buy the house and free and reunite with his father. However, see Downer Ending below.
  • Arc Words:
    • References to "knowing your place" recur throughout, referring to both the Parks' house and social/moral standing.
    • "Sister". It's an affectionate name that Mrs. Park bandies around, using it specifically for Chung-sook. Ki-woo and Ki-jeong are brother and sister, and the story ends with him mourning her death. Moon-gwang also calls Chung-sook "sister" when trying to convince her to keep her secret in the basement.note 
    • "What's the plan?/I've got a plan," and variations thereof are exchanged between the Kims during key moments of the film. Given their lot in life, the only up is to just keep moving, and stick together as a family. It reaches a bleak variant near the start of the third act after the Kims' home is near-submerged by the torrential rain. Ki-woo asks his father what his plan from earlier was, and Ki-taek glumly replies that the best plan is no plan, because nothing they do really matters. The film ends with a slightly more hopeful twist on this: Ki-woo writes out his plan to honestly earn his way to buying the Parks' old home, so that what's left of their family could be together again.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: The Parks' wide-open, mostly glass, minimalist house — and Dong-ik's architecture firm — contrasted with the crowded, tiny underground flat the Kims live in.
  • Awful Wedded Life: It's implied that the Parks are in a loveless marriage, or maybe one that got boring from domestic life. Mrs. Park is introduced passed out on an outdoor table (possibly daytime drinking), while Mr. Park can be inattentive to his wife and kids, and derisively scoffs when Ki-taek asks him if he loves his wife. It is downplayed as the Kims have to admit they are still a very nice family, if only because "they can afford to be." Even still, it's later shown they are not lacking in their sex life.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The Kims. There are multiple instances of this throughout the whole film, but most notably is how they band together to enter the Parks' home, their friendly scenes when left alone in the house, and the ending.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": At home, in order to get Moon-gwang fired as a housekeeper, Ki-taek and his son Ki-woo rehearse the car interaction between him and Mrs. Park to convince the latter that her trusted employee has tuberculosis. Ki-taek over-acts while his son gives him proper direction.note 
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • As the Kims drunkenly feast in the Parks' home, Ki-taek becomes angered by a comment from Chung-sook, sweeping the contents of the table onto the floor and grabbing her by the shirt collar. But she just smiles at him, and after a tense beat, they both burst out laughing. She puts him in a playful wrist-lock, causing him to cry in mock pain. For whatever their flaws, the Kims are not an abusive household.
    • It also seems that Ki-woo will be the one to die, as he's unconscious and being carried by a panicked-looking Da-hye, during the party. However, he surprisingly survives, having undergone surgery, while Ki-jeong, having initially seemed in a much better and conscious state after being stabbed, actually dies.
  • Batman Gambit: The Kims quickly realize that Mrs. Park is Super Gullible and Mr. Park, while astute, is blind to his privilege and prejudices, so they plan a whole series of these to infiltrate the Park household, and succeed beyond their best expectations, manipulating the Parks perfectly.
  • Beauty Inversion: An interview confirms that Choi Woo-shik, as Ki-woo, was deliberately styled to look worse next to a character like Min, who is reasonably wealthy. Among other things, he's given an unflattering haircut and conspicuously lower-quality clothing.
  • Becoming the Mask: Ki-woo appears to develop real feelings for Da-hye. The fact that he echoes Min's words about her verbatim implies that at least some of this is because he's latching on to the idea of what Min would do to justify his own behavior, however, because Min has feelings for the girl.
  • Beneath Suspicion: Ki-woo, for Min. This is explicitly why Min gets Ki-woo into the Parks, saying Ki-woo won't interfere in his relationship with Da-hye. Da-hye falls for him more or less instantly, and even Mrs. Park is attracted to him.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The husband-wife duo of Moon-gwang and Geun-se form the main antagonistic forces towards the Kims.
  • Big Fancy House: The Parks' home is lavish, spacious, and modern, specifically designed by a famous architect. It serves as a contrast to the Kims' cramped semi-basement.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: The Parks' home - with the Parks not even being aware they have a secret underground bomb shelter. Most likely Moon-gwang never informed the Parks about it in the first place.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: Da-song was deeply shaken during a previous birthday. In the present day, his birthday party ends with the deaths of Ki-jeong, Mr. Park, Moon-gwang's husband, and potentially himself, and deeply traumatizes both families. Not to mention that shortly before this present-day birthday party of his, his mother was celebrating his newfound recovery, and then he has to witness the lady who helped him heal from his trauma get stabbed by the man he had mistaken for a ghost and bleed to death in front of him.
  • Black Comedy: The first half of the movie is rich with this one, ranging from Ki-jeong deliberately putting her own panties in the Park family's car to make it seem that their driver likes having car sex in his own employer's car, to Ki-jeong fooling Yeon-kyo with faux artistic lessons. At least until the Cerebus Syndrome kicks in. There's black comedy in the second half too, like a dog licking some sausages on a skewer which is sticking out of a dead guy.
  • Blackmail: Moon-gwang and her husband threaten to send the Parks a video showing that the Kims are actually a family. This plan doesn't work out well for anyone involved.
  • Book-Ends: The movie opens and closes with a shot of socks hanging out to dry that moves down to reveal Ki-woo.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: While Moon-gwang's Evil Gloating is understandable (and hilarious), her and Geun-sae's lording it over the Kim family ultimately gives the Kims the opportunity to re-gain the upper hand.
  • Brick Joke: While on the way home during a torrential downpour, there is a lot of focus on Ki-woo trying not to slip on a particular set of steps. Towards the epilogue, one of the detectives tailing him falls down the stairs.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: A central theme in the movie, which focuses on how social stratification takes a toll on the characters.
    Bong Joon-ho (director): Rather than water being important in itself, water flows from top to bottom. I think that's the tragic and sad element in this film. Water always flows from the rich to the poor, it never flows the other way.
  • Central Theme: As with most of Bong Joon-ho's filmography, the film inspects aspects of the negatives of capitalism. Specifically, how regardless of class, age, or situation, capitalism makes parasites of us all.
  • Cerebus Syndrome:
    • The return of Moon-gwang to Mr. Park's house after she got fired is a huge one, marking the apparent shift from the film's comedic undertone to a more dramatic turn.
    • The Running Gag of Ki-taek smelling bad comes back in a big, completely serious way during the climax.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Ki-taek's smell. It's joked about the family earlier, then gradually returns every time more seriously, insulting Ki-taek's pride more and more until Mr. Park accidentally insults both a dying Ge-seun and Ki-taek by reflexively reeling in disgust from their "lower-class" smell, leading to Ki-taek to fatally stab him in a fit of anger.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The open window. Ki-taek tells the Kims to leave it open so they can fumigate their house, which is portrayed as grim enough. However, this later goes off in the heavy rain, where leaving the window open causes the flooding of their home.
    • The stone. Ki-woo considers using it as a weapon against a drunk man, then carries it everywhere. Later on, Moon-gwang's husband uses the same stone to hit Ki-woo on the head twice to a great effect, although he survives.
    • When Moon-gwang shows up to the house, she mentions that she cut the cord on the CCTV across the street so no one would see her enter the house. While that sets up that she has a secret reason to want to be there, the camera also lingers on it later on to explain why no one saw Ki-taek sneak back into the house to hide in the basement.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Morse code also plays important roles during the movie, where Moon-gwang's husband uses the code to communicate to the outside world and in the epilogue, Kim uses the same code to tell his condition to his family after escaping from the authorities.
    • That Ki-woo was a Boy Scout also means that he, like Da-song, can understand Morse code when Ki-taek uses it to communicate with him at the end of the film.
    • Although it isn't as important, Chung-sook is a former athlete, so it makes sense that she'd be able to get the upper hand on several people throughout the film.
  • Closet Shuffle: After the Parks come back early, the entire family (except for Chung-sook) has to frantically hide. Ki-woo initially hides under Da-hye's bed, while his sister hides under the coffee table in the living room. As members of the Park family move around, the various members of the Kim family all join each other under the coffee table until they're all under there. Unfortunately the Parks decide to sleep on the couch to watch their son (who's in the yard), mere feet from where the Kim family is hiding. They don't notice them, but awkwardly start having sex on the couch.
  • Cultural Translation: Darcy Paquet worked on the English language subtitles with director Bong, and she used a few examples of this trope to simplify the connections in viewers' minds.
    • The film's 'ram-don' dish is actually jjapaguri, a mix of Chapagetti (spicy black bean sauce) and Neoguri (seafood broth) brand instant noodles. The move to call it "ram-don" came from English-speaking audiences' stronger familiarity with ramen and udon noodles from Japan. The shot of the packaging was edited for the English-speaking markets to more prominently feature the words "ramyeon" and "udon" on them, to aide the audience in making the connection.
    • A reference to Seoul National University was replaced with Oxford University (as Bong loves England); and the mention of Korea's KakaoTalk app was replaced with WhatsApp.
  • Daydream Surprise: The film ends with Ki-woo narrating a letter to Ki-taek, detailing how he plans to earn enough money through honest work to buy the Park house he's hiding in to free him. We then see a sequence of them at some point in the future reuniting, at which point the film fades out and seemingly ends... only to fade back in to Ki-woo's despondent reality, where this is but a dream.
  • Daylight Horror: The climatic scene where Geun-se kills Ki-jeong in front of Da-song in middle of his birthday at the garden in a broad daylight.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The "Director's Version" which saw a limited release in the US and a few other theaters abroad.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Park Da-song is obsessed with Native Americans, specifically the highly Theme Park Version of them based on stereotypes that ignore differences between Native groups, and is blissfully unaware of the hardships they endured and still endure in the modern era. While his get-up would be considered highly questionable in modern North America, it's just a costume he can put on in South Korea, highlighting how upper-class people yet again are ignorant to the plights of the oppressed (it wasn't that long ago when his obsession was normal in North America).
  • Deconstructive Parody: Of a Korean drama staple where the Jail Bait daughter of a rich family falls in love with her tutor, especially when he's of a lower social class, and they must undergo a wait until she's in university to reveal their relationship to her parents. Min wants to do this with Da-hye, but Da-hye seems to have had no interest in him whatsoever, although she instantly becomes infatuated, bordering on obsessed, with "Kevin" (Ki-woo). While Da-hye does save Ki-woo's life in a desperate act of romantic anguish, the murder of Da-hye's father by Ki-woo's ends their relationship, and Da-hye moves with her mother out of Korea, so Ki-woo never sees her again.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Several very accurate and disturbing examples litter the film.
    • Geun-se crosses it after Moon-gwang dies from her concussion in front of him. This causes him to go on a murderous rampage.
    • Ki-taek crosses it after escaping from the Park family mansion and finding his semi-basement home flooded, with all his family possessions ruined. He becomes incredibly nihilistic after this, and it doesn't take long for him to snap and murder Mr. Park. At the very least, he snaps out of it after taking refuge in the bunker under the mansion.
    • Ki-woo and Chung-sook cross it after Ki-jeong dies and Ki-taek hides under the house, separating them forever.
  • Dirty Commies: North Korea is brought up a few times for the sake of jokes. Which foreshadows the presence of the Parks' unknown bunker - the original owners of the house had it built because they feared a communist missile attack. During the initial standoff, Moon-gwang mimics one of North Korea's more infamous propagandists in mockery of the new bounty they have - namely, the fact they may be getting their jobs back. Part of the overarching theme asks if unrestrained capitalism and the suffering it causes is really any different from totalitarian communism's own ills.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Ki-taek, Mrs. Park, and Da-song are all blank-faced at various points during the film's climax. Justified; they're in shock. Ki-taek even says he was hoping the chaos would turn out to be All Just a Dream. In Mrs. Park and Da-song's cases, however, they pass out shortly after they've reached the point of blank-faced disbelief. For Ki-taek, there really is no waking up and escaping from the aftermath.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The Kim family acts as a parasite to the Parks, leeching off jobs and money from them. Meanwhile, the housekeeper's husband acts as a more literal example, eating the family's food for years completely undetected. The Parks themselves are also parasites, happily (and obliviously) sustaining themselves on the labor (and by proxy, the misery) of people in the lower classes.
    Bong Joon-Ho: "They can't even wash dishes, they can't drive themselves, so they leech off the poor family's labor. So both are parasites."
  • Downer Ending: Despite being eventually released from the authorities when their crime was caught, and regretting it enough to commit only to honest work from then on, the Kim family lost Ki-jeong along with their newfound wealth, Ki-taek is stuck living in the bunker below the Parks' home forever to avoid being imprisoned, the Parks lost their father and patriarch, and both Moon-gwang and her husband died tragically, without ever being able to tell their misgivings to the world. Ki-woo has a fantasy of working hard and becoming rich to rescue Ki-taek from the house, but it is just that, a fantasy.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Min callously tells Ki-woo that he wants him to take over the job as Da-hye's tutor for a year because Min wants Da-hye for himself and doesn't want a university student stealing her. When Ki-woo gets to the Park house, Da-hye shows absolutely no interest in Min and almost instantly becomes besotted with Ki-woo.
    • Mrs. Park is delighted to hire so many new employees based on recommendation because she assumes they'll be good workers, even referring to it as a "belt of faith". Too bad the audience has been watching the Kims essentially scam her this whole time.
    • Likewise, Mrs. Park obliviously commenting about what a blessing the rain had been because it will mean nice weather for her son's birthday party. This is right after the devastating scenes of the Kims losing everything because of the floodwaters caused by the same rains. Unbeknownst to her, Ki-taek hears her comments and seethes.
  • Driver Faces Passenger: Ki-taek starts doing this as he gets comfortable in his role as driver until Mr. Park reprimands him to keep his eyes on the road.
  • Due to the Dead: In one of the closing scenes, Ki-taek digs a proper grave in the garden for Moon-gwang so she can rest in peace.

    Tropes E to L 
  • Eat the Rich: Present as a theme. The Kims are undoubtedly swindlers who take advantage of the Parks, but they also suffered poverty their entire lives. While the Parks are presented fairly sympathetically, their wealth and comfort at the expense of the people in their service contrasts very sharply to the living conditions and lifestyles of the Kims, and they're often unaware of the kind of damage their lifestyles do and make them blind to, such as falling to the Kims defrauding their other servants. This is ramped up by the end when Ki-taek, fed up with the Parks' Conspicuous Consumption and denigration of the lower classes, fatally stabs Mr. Park, who unwittingly insults him for the last time.
  • Epilogue Letter: The movie ends with two letters from Ki-taek and Ki-woo being read out by them for the audience.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • In their opening scene, the Kims try to piggyback on a neighbor's wifi because they have no cell service or wifi of their own, establishing them as both deeply impoverished and prone to mooching off others.
    • Ki-woo gets his own when he smooths out relations with a pizza shop owner and angles for an interview, establishing him as the scheming charmer of the family who will eventually spearhead all of their ploys with the Parks. Much like during later interactions with the Parks, they appear to cold-read the owner and play off her concerns with a part-timer to further their own interests.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Despite their extremely brutal physical fight, Chung-sook and Ki-taek agree not to kill Moon-gwang and her husband, and choose instead to go back to them. Unfortunately, it's too late.
  • Everyone Is Christian at Christmas: You can see a Christmas tree and some decorations stored in the Park basement, but otherwise they don't seem to be religious.
  • Everyone Knows Morse: Downplayed; Da-song and Ki-woo can recognize a Morse code message as they're current or former Scouts, but still require time to translate it. Nobody else catches on to the source of the code, which is the entryway lights — Geun-se, and later Ki-taek, use a code taped to the wall next to the switch in the bunker.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: The movie seems like it's about to end as Ki-woo reunites with Ki-taek. The screen fades to black only to fade back in on Ki-woo in the semi-basement, having imagined the previous scene.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "Chung-sook..." - Moon-Gwan
    • "Stop pushing it, Dad! Makes it hurt more." - Kim Ki-Jung
    • "Respect!" - Geun-se
    • "You know me?" - Park Dong-ik
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • Mr. Park exhibits classism towards poor people, saying in private that they have a smell he doesn't like and aren't supposed to cross a "line". This comes to a head at Da-song's birthday party, when him being put off by the smell of a man who's dying right in front of him causes Ki-taek to snap and kill him.
    • In general, the Kim's resentment of the rich. A lot of their actions are done out of resentment towards the rich, such as eating and drinking in the Park's house and Ki-Taek stabbing Mr. Park because Mr. Park was disgusted by Ki-Taek's and Geun-se's smell leads to their downfall. Their resentment of the rich causes them to bite off more than they can chew with the former and causes them to act impulsively with the latter.
  • Fauxshadow:
    • Ki-jeong asks Mrs. Park for the titles for the house over the phone, as if to suggest some larger scheme to eventually steal the Parks' identities. Mrs. Park is gullible enough to provide, however the discovery in the Parks' basement happens before this can become relevant to the plot.
    • Da-song is the first to discover the stairs lights being used as Morse code. He translates the message, and although the Morse code becomes a plot point after that, Da-song's translation doesn't.
  • Finding a Bra in Your Car: Invoked. Ki-jeong leaves her underwear in the car to make it seem like the driver likes having sex there. This makes the Parks uncomfortable enough that they fire him, which was the plan all along.
  • First World Problems: The living conditions between the Parks and the Kims are frequently contrasted, but reached a tipping point when the rainstorm completely floods their semi-basement and the Kims stay the night in a gym with a couple hundred other people also washed out. The next day the Parks are only concerned with an impromptu birthday party for Da-Song and invite the Kims to attend, they are completely ignorant of their struggles and this only breeds massive resentment.
  • Foil:
    • The Parks to the Kims. Both are nuclear families, but the Parks are wealthy, distant, and live uphill; the Kims are poor, tight-knit, and live in a basement.
    • The Kims to Moon-gwang and her husband. They were all poor people from the same street, driven to the same disparity by unemployment, and had the same idea to live off of salary and pickings from the Parks family, only Moon-gwang came first and her plans were even less morally grey than the Kim family. Their competition for the place as the Park family's secret parasite quickly drawn ugly sides out of all members of both families.
  • Food as Characterization: The Parks are Sheltered Aristocrats who keep expensive, premium-quality Hanwoo beef sirloin in the fridge but thoughtlessly mix it in with instant noodles.
  • Foreshadowing: Several, in fact.
    • In the beginning, the Kim family leaves the window open as a gust of fumigation smoke enters their apartment. They leave it open again before a massive storm floods their whole home.
    • A joke or two about North Korea happens early on. These foreshadow the bunker under the Kim household, built in case of a North Korean invasion, which is central to the second half of the film.
    • Da-song is revealed early on to be afraid of ghosts, and that something happened in his house. We later learn that the ghost was really Geun-sae emerging from his hiding spot.
    • When Chung-sook allows Moon-gwang in, Moon-gwang does briefly clock in that Chung-sook left a mess of a meal but comments on it blithely as if she relates to Chung-sook's transgression. This hints that Moon-gwang had done other transgressions as a housekeeper.
    • Whenever Mr. Park enters the house, watch the lights.
    • Ki-taek lightheartedly attributes his family's newfound employment to Mr. Park, toasting to him during their celebratory meal. When Geun-se is revealed, we find out that he's obsessed with Mr. Park. Following the climax, Geun-se's obsession with Mr. Park lives on in Ki-taek, with the latter spending his days raving and bowing to the poster of Mr. Park in a manner highly reminiscent of how Geun-se worshipped the man — except where Geun-se was filled with deranged gratitude, Ki-taek is filled with remorse and guilt to haunt him forever.
    • Ki-woo tries to use Min's gift, the rock sculpture, to scare away the man who keeps on pissing by their household, even though it's meant to be decorative and metaphorical rather than a weapon. Later, Geun-se actually bludgeons him with the sculpture, causing Ki-woo to bleed profusely — likely to death, if Da-hye hadn't found him.
    • As Ki-woo tries to get rid of a drunk man with a bottle of water, and another neighbor throws a bucket of water at them, Ki-jeong records the commotion and comments, "What a deluge." Later, their semi-basement house gets completely flooded by heavy rain.
    • Mr. Park complains that Moon-gwang eats enough for two people, though we never actually see her eat. Later, we learn that she's been feeding her husband in the Parks' bunker with the extra serving of food.
    • When enjoying their newfound employment, Ki-taek wonders about his not-so-lucky neighbor who got trapped in debts after his Taiwan cake shop went bankrupt. The neighbor is, in fact, Moon-gwang's husband, who ran away from debt collectors after his shop closed down.
    • Despite faking her way into the job and continuing to lie about her credentials, Ki-jeong turns out to be right that Da-song has been through trauma and that his drawings are reflective of said trauma. Specifically, Da-song saw Geun-se appear from the basement on his last birthday, thinking he was a ghost and his drawings are of Geun-se’s face.
    • While talking about Ki-taek disappearing after murdering Dong-ik, the news reporter stands in front of the brightly colored garage door, which he used to escape into the bunker.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish:
    • Park Da-song got obsessed with Native Americans after spending time as a Cub Scout which led him to build a teepee in his bedroom and his home's backyard. Of course, it's a rather superficial version of a singular Native American culture as opposed to an actual one and is divorced from any sentimental feelings regarding the hardships of Natives.
    • Mrs Park is obsessed with American stuff and is completely won over because "Jessica" went to college in the United States. note 
  • Genre Mashup: The closest definition to the film's genre, which combined Black Comedy with Tragedy elements, along with family drama and Thriller concepts being thrown into a single movie.
  • Gilded Cage: Downplayed. The basement is a regular basement, but it is in a beautiful house, which is stocked with delicious food and is preferable to prison or death/maiming by debt collectors. However, you can't leave, even around the house, your movements are severely limited, and Geun-se's state demonstrates how it can quickly go south.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The Kims' plan to trick the Parks into hiring all of them succeed. However, the sudden return of Moon-gwang, who was fired by the Parks via the Kims' methods, and the subsequent discovery of her husband, Guen-se, living in the house's bunker ultimately results in tragic consequences for both the Kims and the Parks.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Initially played straight when Geun-se crushes Ki-woo's head with the stone. However, it's very much subverted when Geun-se does it the second time round.
  • Gratuitous English: Usually from the well-educated English tutor "Kevin" (actually a dropout named Ki-woo, though he is genuinely fluent) and Americanized art therapist "Jessica" (actually a born-and-raised Korean girl named Ki-jeong). Mrs. Park happily slips into this when they're around, too.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The loan sharks searching for Geun-se after they pulled usury on him.
  • Greed: The Kims' driving ambition. They scheme to get increasingly more wealth out of the Parks. The film contrasts this with the more passive and pervasive greed of the Parks, who lives of abundance and luxury without ever thinking of people beyond themselves.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The Kims and Moon-gwang do very unethical and outright criminal acts to get their wealth quickly, but they come from very poor backgrounds that give them little or no opportunity to survive by honest means. On the other side of the spectrum, the Park family are spoiled upper-class individuals who are either oblivious to the hardships of the lower class or disparaging of their looks and conditions, but they aren’t actively malicious. They have their own family problems which make it harder to notice the struggling of others, and while their class has a lot to answer for they aren’t personally responsible for every bad thing that’s happened to the Kims.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Almost literally at the halfway point in the film, Moon-gwang returns and we learn that her husband is living in the house's hidden bunker, and what had been a Black Comedy about the Kims scamming the Parks becomes a Thriller-cum-Caper about the Kims going to extremes to avoid getting exposed - and that's not including the eventual horror as Geun-se goes insane and goes on a rampage.
  • Heel Realization: Ki-woo has this reaction before the birthday party incident, upon realizing the immense fraudulent actions his family had done so far.
  • Home-Early Surprise: The Kims throw a party together at the Parks' place, assuming that the owners won't be back from their camping trip until the next day or so (despite the strong storm). Then Ms. Park phones in saying they will be back in 8 minutes. Cue an Oh, Crap! reaction.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: We don't see the trip itself, but this is the cause for the Home-Early Surprise. The thunderstorm caused the river to overflow but the Parks tried their best for Da-song before giving up altogether and turning back.
  • Horrible Housing: The poor Kim family lives in a cramped, smelly semi-basement in a street that easily floods. This is contrasted with the rich Park family's lovely, spacious home.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Chung-sook and Ki-taek having time to think things over and consider making amends with Moon-gwang and her husband. It's too late though.
    • Per director Bong, the scene accompanying Ki-woo's reply letter implies he eventually made enough money by honest means to buy the house and let Ki-taek have another breath of fresh air and a touching reunion, only to snap back at the very last scene to Ki-woo finishing the letter… in his still rundown semi-basement house. The entire scene of Ki-woo earning money and buying the house is a fantasy, made of wishful thinking.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The film deals heavily in this.
    • There is a Running Gag where the Parks regale the Kims with stories of terrible misdeeds done against them — such as mentioned in Auto Erotica — while the Kims, who are themselves con artists, feign horror.
    • Mrs. Park repeatedly tells the Kims that she is a good judge of character and that trust is all-important to her, immediately before being tricked by them.
    • Ki-jeong chides Ki-woo for reading Da-hye's diary, then immediately starts reading it herself.
  • Idiot Ball: The Kims start to get cocky after a long string of successes, and make three foolish missteps in the same night:
    • The Parks go on a camping trip and the Kims decide now's a perfect time to sponge off their house for its luxuries such as the food, drinks, Wi-Fi and bubble bath. Then rain strikes, which will surely make the Parks cancel their trip and turn back home the same night. But this doesn’t occur to the Kims, who continue on with their little party and almost get caught when the Parks come home early. This first mistake leads to the second and third, since they wouldn’t have happened if Ki-woo, Ki-jeong, and Ki-Taek hadn't been in the house when they weren’t supposed to be.
    • Then, when Moon-gwang appears at the door and begs to be let in to retrieve something important to her, Chung-sook lets her into the house. This would be a very bad time to have an attack of conscience because of the possibility that Moon-gwang might notice the other three Kims in the house. Even if the Parks or someone else found out afterwards that Moon-gwang had requested entry and been denied, Chung-sook would be able to justify her refusal: The person in question was fired for supposedly having a contagious disease (which Mrs. Park didn’t want her husband to know, but the Kims might just have to spill it), and one could infer that her reason for returning was something shady she had hidden from the Parks.
    • The last and ultimately worst mistake is the other three Kims following Chung-sook and Moon-gwang down into the secret bunker instead of hiding upstairs, just because they want to eavesdrop. Unless they were also going to back up Chung-sook because they didn’t trust Moon-gwang or in case there was something dangerous down there, which goes back to the fact that they shouldn’t have let this person in the house to begin with. Upon hearing Moon-gwang's secret they accidentally fall down the stairs and blow their cover in front of Moon-gwang, who takes video evidence for blackmail.
  • Ignored Epiphany: In the shelter, Ki-taek tells his son that the only way for a plan not to fail is not to plan at all. This is what makes the final Fantasy Sequence so tragic. Ki-woo writes to his father that he has "a plan" to earn money legitimately to free Ki-taek from the bunker. With the pessimistic atmosphere of the entire ending, the audience can only extrapolate that Ki-woo's plan will indeed fail.
  • Incredibly Obvious Tail: The family gets tailed after the birthday incident and we see one clumsy detective stumbling while following Ki-woo.
  • Indulgent Fantasy Segue:
    • Geun-sae and Moon-gwang have one of being able to have the Parks' house to themselves. They get lost in their own dream while holding the blackmail video message against the Kims, allowing the Kims to pounce on them and quickly regain the upper hand in the battle.
    • At the end of the film, as Ki-woo is writing his letter to Ki-taek, he has one of these where he envisions himself buying the Parks' former home so he can free Ki-taek from the bunker. One of the signs that it's just his imagination is that he, Ki-taek, and Chung-sook don't appear to have aged at all. Maybe it’s not impossible that it could happen, but it seems unlikely.
  • Indy Ploy: Ki-taek explicitly tells Ki-woo not to make plans at all.
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • Yeon-kyo talks constantly on her phone, making Ki-taek carry her bags around for her, has no awareness of how privileged she is, and fires Moon-gwang, who has worked for her family for years (and the one before her), on the word of someone who has barely worked for her. However, she is unaware of just about everything that the Kims know.
    • The Parks plans a lovely garden party last-minute and invite the Kims, not knowing that they had lost all their possessions in a flood and had to sleep in a gym along with other evacuees just the night before. Yeon-kyo is even happy about the rain because of the good weather it will bring afterwards. Ki-taek seethes at this; later, Ki-woo muses on how relaxed, happy, and picture-perfect the upper-class is.
    • However, the idea is deconstructed in general. While the upper class are innocent and insensitive, their innocence is willful at best; being innocent is portrayed as a luxury and, as called out by several characters, not a defence of their insensitivity.
  • Instant Death Stab: Park Dong-ik drops dead almost immediately after getting stabbed in the heart by Kim Ki-taek. He didn't even attempt to pull out the knife.
  • Interclass Romance: Ki-woo with Da-hye. Also a Teacher/Student Romance mired in Questionable Consent.
  • Irony:
    • Although they've lied and tricked their way into their jobs, the Kims actually appear to be quite proficient at their respective roles, most especially Chung-sook, who is given 8 minutes to cook a meal she has no experience with, and actually pulls it off.
    • Ki-taek, one of the biggest schemers in the plot and the one who actually kills Mr. Park, as well as being indirectly responsible for Guen-se's rampage, becomes trapped in the same exact situation Geun-se was in - spending his days going insane and isolated, sending Morse code to the outside world in the vain hope someone might help him. It's implied he may or may not die there.
      • The reason Ki-taek stays in the basement is because if he goes above ground he'll be arrested and sent to prison, but he's essentially locked himself into solitary confinement, having to scrounge for food and living in a windowless room. Prison would likely be a better option.
  • Ivy League for Everyone:
    • Subverted. When Ki-jeong is trying to make herself sound qualified by lying about her background, she doesn't claim to have an Ivy League degree but instead mentions having attended Illinois State University. It's an above-average university from a prestigious country (American universities having a good reputation in East Asia), and thus decently impressive already.
    • Invoked. Ki-woo's fake transcript says he goes to Yonsei University, one of the three SKY schoolsnote  and thus a candidate for the most prestigious university in Korea. The Parks presumably value his educational chops more highly than they otherwise would because of this.
  • Jerk Justifications: At one point, the Kims discuss that their targets are nice people, with just a twinge of guilt - but quickly brush it off, saying they're nice because they can afford to be. Ki-taek and Chung-sook also take a moment to wonder if the previous Park employees they got fired are now struggling with finding work like the Kims were before, but Ki-jeong convinces them to quit worrying about it because they didn't create the class system.
  • Karmic Death: Of two very dark sorts, as both sides aren't monsters OR traditionally good:
    • Ki-jeong is sharp-tongued, the most disdainful towards the Parks, the greediest of the Kim family, and personally executes the more heinous crimes to get the previous employees fired (such as getting the Parks' driver fired under suspicion of being a pervert and triggering Moon-gwang's deathly allergies). She outright mocks the Parks, and openly wonders why a family of idiots get everything, when the Kims deserve everything. She's the only one to actually die from Geun-se's rampage.
    • Mr. Park is neglectful of his wife (and even derisive towards her) and the family (to the point where he's easily conned into firing his existing staff on flimsy evidence), is ignorant of his privilege, and is both consciously and unconciously classist, lambasting Ki-taek for smelling "like the lower class" behind his back. When he reflexively shows disgust at Ki-taek and Geun-se from the "lower class" smell, Ki-taek has enough and stabs him in a fit of rage.
    • In a Fate Worse than Death version, Ki-taek, who was one of the driving forces behind the scam, happily leeches off the Park family's good fortune, is indirectly responsible for killing Moon-gwang and sending Geun-se into a fury, and kills Mr. Park in a spur-of-the-moment impulse, becomes trapped in Geun-se's exact situation - rotting away inside a basement, frantically sending messages in the hopes his family might find him, and going insane. The ending implies he'll die there.
  • Karma Houdini: While Ki-taek becomes a fugitive after murdering Mr. Park, Ki-woo and Chung-sook are given little more than a slap on the wrist despite deceiving and exploiting the Parks, holding Geun-se hostage in the basement, and accidentally killing his wife. However, this is downplayed as they have still lost their sister/daughter and father/husband for their efforts, and are back to being poor.
  • Kick the Dog: Literally. Chung-sook is not very gentle with one of the dogs. Ironically this is shown as she is claiming that she would be a very kind person if she were as wealthy as Yeon-kyo.
  • Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy: The Kims incrementally maneuver themselves into the Park household in this way, with each new addition telling Mrs. Park about this great new person to hire that they know from [x]'s [y]'s [z]. Deconstructed, since the Parks take the Kims at their word and never realize that they're being scammed.
  • Kubrick Stare: A masterful one when Geun-sae's pop over the top of the stairs into the kitchen.
  • Layered Metropolis: While only partially filmed in Seoul, the place where the Parks and Kims live is implied to be this - the Kims have to climb a bridge, a tunnel, and a hill to get to the Parks' mansion, while the Kims live in an underground apartment. Played for Drama when it floods due to this very thing.
  • Loan Shark: Evading them after falling into debt is the reason Geun-se is hiding out in the underground bunker.

    Tropes M to Z 
  • Malignant Plot Tumor: Early in the movie the fact that the Kim family all shares the same smell due to their living conditions is treated as a footnote. Overhearing a conversation between the Parks about his smell causes Ki-taek to become increasingly conscious of their reactions to his smell, largely forgetting other issues like the couple in the bunker. It eventually reaches the point that Ki-taek murders Mr. Park over a Stink Snub in the middle of the climactic scene with Guen-se.
  • Match Cut: Used a few times to contrast the flooded Kim apartment and the Park house, with Moon-gwang vomiting in the toilet followed by sewage shooting out of the Kim toilet, then very pointedly going from Mrs. Park in her huge walk-in closet full of clothes to the gym where dry clothes are getting handed out to the Kims and the other displaced families.
  • Meaningful Echo: Ki-woo repeating Min's previous statement about Da-hye word-for-word, to his family who do not know that Min said it first. It indicates that much of Ki-woo's social climbing is rooted in the desire to be more like stylish, cool, financially comfortable Min. Indeed, "What would Min do?" becomes his mantra as the film progresses, only for Ki-jeong to snap at him that Min wouldn't have gotten entangled in any of this.
  • Mexican Standoff: The Kims end up in a variety with Moon-gwang and Geun-se. After the Kims learn that Geun-se is hiding in the basement, Moon-gwang and Geun-se learns that they're a family and takes a video of them admitting to this, ending up in a version with merely cell phones that demonstrate each other's secrets.
  • Miranda Rights: Mentioned when the police talk to Ki-woo while he recovers from his injuries in the hospital. This might be a case of Aluminum Christmas Trees for viewers not familiar with the South Korean legal system, because it's not Eagleland Osmosis. South Korea added Miranda Rights to their constitution, and actually use the word "Miranda" for them.
  • Mister Muffykins: While not an actively malicious person, Mrs. Park is an Idle Rich lady who keeps three pampered dogs — cared for by the servants, of course.
  • Mood Whiplash: A Bong Joon-ho specialty. The movie rapidly and seamlessly switches back and forth between farcical comedy, high-suspense thriller and genuine tragedy. The most defining example of this trope is perhaps Chung-sook kicking Moon-gwang down the basement stairs before the latter could reveal herself to the Parks, which is funny in a slapstick sense until she brutally hits her head on a wall.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Chung-sook is hands down the most fearsome member of the Kim family in a fight, with her daughter Ki-jeong fairly ruthless as well. Moon-gwang is also no slouch, although she is more closely matched by her husband.
  • Motif: Stairs. They are used many times and match the themes of social ascension and class difference between those at the top and those at the bottom.
  • Mutually Assured Destruction: Between the Kims and Moon-gwang. Moon-gwang has her husband in the basement, but also knows that the Kims are a scammer family. By coincidence, this happens in a fallout shelter meant for war with North Korea, which consistently promises to annihilate its southern neighbor if anything happens to it. As a minor gag, Moon-gwang mockingly mimics a North Korean propagandist when she and her husband are able to restrain the Kims.
  • National Stereotypes: After retreating into the underground bunker at the end of the film, Ki-taek finds out to his relief that the new German owners of the house live off of more than just beer and sausages.
  • Naturalized Name:
    • A variation; the educated (and in Ki-jeong's case, Westernized) personas of Ki-woo and Ki-jeong are named "Kevin" (at the behest of Yeon-kyeo) and "Jessica". This is common Truth in Television with many East Asian families who become Westernized.
    • Mr. Park's given name is Dong-ik, but the English-language newspaper and magazine articles on display throughout the Park house call him "Nathan Park."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Had Ki-woo not carried their stone with him down to the basement, Geun-se wouldn’t have broken out and hit Ki-woo in the head with it.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Moon-gwang cutting off the security camera. When she says it, the Kims have an Oh, Crap!-style reaction, and she was only thinking about herself, but it actually works out extremely well for them: it's how Ki-taek manages to escape the police and jail, sneaking back into the Park house.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: About the only thing that the Kim family does that could be considered altruistic in the movie is show some sympathy for Moon-gwang and risk exposure by allowing her inside and letting her get something from the basement. This winds up exposing their charade, getting one of them killed, another on the lam, and destroying the Park household as well.
  • Not So Different:
    • Ki-taek learns of many parallels between himself and Geun-se, namely worsening depression after multiple failed businesses along with rising debt. This is a major factor in the former's Sanity Slippage and eventual breakdown after the latter's death.
    • While the Kims tend to assume that they are better than Moon-gwang and Geun-se, they learn that, actually, their high opinions of the Parks hide that the two families are pretty similar in a lot of ways, although the effect is inverted, as rather than leading to sympathy it causes mounting hatred until the finale. In addition to both being nuclear families, the Kims learn that in fact, when left to her own devices, Yeon-kyo doesn't have any better idea of how to take care of the house, while her husband Dong-ik is rude about the poor's ability to keep clean, both Dong-ik and Ki-taek share their detached, and seemingly indifferent attitudes.
  • Nuclear Family: Both the Kim and Park families consist of a husband, a wife, a daughter, and a son.
  • Offhand Backhand: Chung-sook pulls off a rather epic example when she knocks the rampaging Moon-gwang down the stairs so effortlessly that Mrs. Park who is standing close by doesn't even realize it.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Da-song bonds deeply with "Jessica" and becomes very fond of Chung-sook, with the latter being strongly implied as to what helps him to recover from the trauma of seeing "the ghost in the house". This is, until that fateful birthday party comes around.
    • Ki-taek bonds with Mr. Park over the long hours and hardships they've both faced, which makes Mr. Park's admission that he hates Ki-taek's 'low-class smell' hit all the harder.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Exploited by the Kims, who correctly predict that Mrs. Park will avoid sharing key information with her husband if it could reflect poorly on her.
  • The Power of Family: The Kims are a subdued example, as a family of con artists who work as an indivisible team, whether packing pizza boxes or covering up an accidental murder. They possess intense Undying Loyalty for each other, and the minute Ki-woo gets lucky in getting a cushy tutoring job at the Parks, his immediate instinct is to put his sister up as an art therapist, and they work on helping his parents also get jobs there. Even though it ultimately ends tragically, leaving Ki-jeong, his sister, dead, Ki-woo's first instinct is still to promise in a letter to his father in hiding that he will find a way for them to be back together.
  • "Psycho" Strings: In the second half of the movie a quiet set of these plays whenever Ki-taek is feeling aggrieved by the Parks.
  • Questionable Consent: Ki-woo, who is in his mid-20s, begins a relationship Da-hye, an underage high schooler whom he is tutoring.
  • Rage Breaking Point:
    • After Moon-gwang dies from a severe concussion in her head, her husband absolutely can't take it well, and goes on a final rampage to kill all members of the Kim family. And he'd undergone an even slower version while being locked in a basement to avoid debt collectors.
    • The silent denigration Ki-taek felt when he repeatedly overheard Mr. Park mention "the queer scent he couldn't describe, but can detect from Ki-taek and from the metro", combined with helping the Parks throw a lavish birthday party right after the night they evacuated from their completely flooded house (after a brawl and a miserable escape in the rain) did a hefty number on Ki-taek's dignity and sanity. When he sees Mr. Park reeling from the smell of Geun-se and Ki-taek, he finally snaps and fatally stabs Mr. Park in the chest.
  • Reading Your Rights: They are being read to Ki-woo in his hospital bed. He cannot stop laughing.
  • Red Herring: Originally, viewers are led to believe that Da-song's skill for being able to read Morse code would somehow reveal the truth behind the Kim family and Moon-gwang and her husband's true conditions since her husband used the codes to reveal Moon-gwang's death to Mr. Park's family. But at the time, Da-song's crash birthday party is on its way, and he apparently forgot to tell his findings to everyone. However, the Morse code does come back into play at the very end of the film, when Ki-taek uses the same method to send a message to Ki-woo.
  • Red Herring Twist: When the Parks come home early, the Kims have to clean up their mess very fast and the camera lingers suspiciously on the dirt under the sofa. Ki-jeong also cuts herself on some glass, leaving a smear. Later, their trash seems to have disappeared and the Parks don't detect the smell of alcohol even though they can smell Ki-taek who is hidden under the table.
  • Relative Error: Da-hye initially mistakes Ki-woo and Ki-jeong — or rather Kevin and Jessica — for boyfriend and girlfriend.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • Da-song's creepy drawings of a wide-eyed man with white pupils? They're of Geun-sae, the "ghost" he saw on the night of his birthday and Moon-gwang's husband.
    • Watch the lights each time Mr. Park enters the house.
    • When Moon-gwang goes down to get some plum extract from the basement, she seems rather astonished by Mrs. Park following her and calling her name. Note how she's right in front of the cabinet which hides the bunker.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Following his wife's death, Geun-se walks into Da-song's birthday party with the intention to do this. ZigZagged, as the results are mixed. Geun-se himself dies, but he manages to slash some innocent guest and kill Ki-jeong. Dong-ik dies, but it's not a direct result of Geun-se's rampage. Da-song may also have died from the climax, but it's very uncertain. Geun-se also tried to kill Ki-woo, but the young man miraculously survives his near-fatal injuries.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • According to Min, the stone he gifts them is supposed to bring them wealth. Fittingly, Ki-woo says it keeps clinging to him throughout the film, and eventually almost dies by being hit on the head with it. Following this, Ki-woo leaves it in the river, symbolizing his desire to rise through society honestly this time.
    • The Kims are poor and live underground. The Parks live uphill and never even use the metro.
    • Also, the smell of poverty, although only Mr. Park mentions it. It eventually became the final trigger for the tragic conclusion of the film.
    • The Cowboys and Indians motif reflects the arrival of a group of newcomers to push out the house's previous inhabitants.
    • The metaphorical line between the rich and the poor, which is a recurring theme in the movie, can actually be "seen" through other lines (the lines on the windows, the lights above dividing the Parks and their employees, etc).
    • The Kims' household is a "semi-basement." Bong Joon-ho has described this sort of household as something that is firmly below ground, but doesn't want to believe it is, just like the people living in it.
    • Min's gift, the Scholar Stone, floats. That's because it isn't a real rock. It's meant to bring wealth, and therefore hope to Ki-woo, but it turns out to be hollow after all — false hope - though this probably saves Ki-woo's life when being struck over the head with it by Geun-Se .note 
  • Secret Diary: When the Kims are lounging in the Parks' house while they're away, Ki-woo's first act of debauchery is to steal Da-hye's secret diary and read it. Ki-jeong also reads it. When the Parks come home early, she tosses it back to him and he has to scramble to return it to Da-hye's room.
  • Secret Room: The secret bunker below the actual basement, designed by the architect of the house in case the North Koreans invade. The entrance is hidden behind a set of cupboards and was never disclosed to the Park family when they bought the house.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mr. Park's company is named "Another Brick."
    • The architect of the Parks' house is named Namgoong, who shares the name with Song Kang-ho's character in Bong's previous film Snowpiercer.
    • Alfred Hitchcock's picture can be seen on the spine of a book on a shelf at the Park house. Bong Joon-ho has said that Hitchcock was a major inspiration for the film, and you can spot some allusions to his work as well.note 
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Viewed through the lens of social stratification. The lower class Kims are the Slobs, while the upper-class Parks are the Snobs; the Parks are polite but privately look down on poor people, while the Kims scam the Parks.
  • So Much for Stealth: The Closet Shuffle in which the Kims, except Chung-sook, hide around the Park house from Moon-gwang as Chung-sook leads her into the basement. The remaining three's enthusiasm to see what she's hiding in there leads to them all going down to the basement, and ultimately falling down the steps, revealing that they are all con artists and giving Moon-gwang a reason to blackmail them.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To the previous Palme d'Or winner Shoplifters. Both share the same premise of an eccentric family in poverty trying to make their living by committing petty crime, and came from neighboring countries in East Asia (South Korea and Japan). The major difference is that Shoplifters explores the theme of familial bonding with a Lighter and Softer tone, whereas Parasite is a more Darker and Edgier take on that premise with pitch-black comedy. Film critic Justin Chang summed it up on Twitter after seeing it at the Cannes Film Festival: "PARASITE is like SHOPLIFTERS on pricey Korean bath salts".
  • Spiritual Successor: To Bong's previous works Snowpiercer and Okja. Parasite can be seen as the third in Bong's accidental trilogy of satires on capitalism.
  • Spotting the Thread: Done numerous times throughout, especially by the Park kids.
    • Da-hye immediately notices that "Kevin" seems much more familiar with "Jessica" than he pretends to be. She believes them to be in a relationship and tries to get rid of "Jessica" - but in this case, he can tell her he doesn't have any feelings for her, without letting on that they're brother and sister.
    • Da-song notes that the Kims smell the same. Both the older Parks assume that Da-song is referring to the "smell of poor people", and laugh it off embarrassedly.
  • Stink Snub: The Kim family all shares a similar smell due to their living conditions. In the first part of the movie it's treated as a minor footnote to address as part of their masquerade. However after overhearing the Parks discuss his smell in-depth, Ki-taek becomes very aware of their subtle responses to him.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: When Ki-taek asks Dong-ik if he loves his wife, he laughs derisively, then does a Beat, before going with this trope as a response.
  • Tragedy: What the film is ultimately about. While Ki-woo's original goal is to earn some honest money for his unemployed family, he and the rest of his family eventually got blinded with Greed and it became their reason of downfall in the movie.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Come the end of the party scene, Ki-taek has one of these, first from absorbing the shock of seeing his children mortally wounded, then from seeing Mr. Park disgusted by Geun-sae's smell, after which point he finally snaps and kills him — with the same distant, glassy look, as if his brain went on autopilot.
  • Toilet Humor: The Kims' toilet overflowing during the flood. Ki-jeong is sprayed with shit repeatedly as she tries to retrieve her prized possessions.
  • Tragic Mistake: The Kim's had a decent little racket going, while deceitful in how they acquired their jobs they still provided the services they were paid for. They take things too far by using the house for their own amusement while the Parks are gone on a camping trip. When Moon-gwang arrives it sets them on edge as almost exposing their deception. They also overcrowd the panic room, which does expose them and turns the situation into a Mexican Standoff with who will tell the Parks first. It gets worse from there.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailers give the impression that the film will be about the Kim family having to contend with the Parks' Creepy Child, Da-song. In actuality, Da-song is an eccentric but harmless kid, and the true antagonists are former housekeeper Moon-gwang and her husband, the latter of whom is completely absent from the previews.
  • Useless Security Camera: When Moon-gwang makes her fateful return to the house, she mentions that she disabled the security camera pointing at the house so no one would know she returned. This proves crucial to the ending of the film.
  • Wham Line: The existence of the stairs to the underground bunker makes for a Wham Shot in itself, but when Moon-gwang calls out "HONEY!" as she frantically descends, there is no longer any doubt that something or somebody is down there too.
  • Wham Shot:
    • When Moon-gwang getting Chung-sook's help pushing a cabinet aside to reveal an underground bunker.
    • The lingering close-up on Ki-taek's face as Geun-se dies and Dong-ik notices his smell, where the extent of his Sanity Slippage becomes clear.
    • The final shot of the film. After what appears to be a Time Skip in which Ki-woo and Chung-sook purchase the Park family's house and reunite with Ki-taek, the screen slowly fades to black as if the movie has ended. Then it fades back in to show Ki-woo in their old home, signifying that the previous scene was a fantasy.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • At the end of the film, it's never revealed what becomes of Park Yeon-kyo or Da-hye, or even whether Da-song survives his seizure.
    • Lampshaded example: While celebrating their new lifestyle, Ki-taek and Chung-sook take a moment to wonder what happened to the previous Park employees they got fired and if they're now struggling with getting work like the Kims were before. Ki-jeong tells them to dismiss the notion because it's not their problem to worry over since they didn't create the class system. They do find out about Moon-gwang soon enough though...
  • You Are Too Late: Ki-taek and Chung-sook both decide that they were too harsh on Moon-gwang and resolve to help her. Unfortunately for them, she has already died from the concussion Chung-sook unwittingly gave her.



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