Did You Know the South Korean Film ‘Parasite’ Was Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock?

Published on January 22, 2020

Parasite may be one of the most unique films to grace our screens perhaps in a decade or more, but director Bong Joon Ho is outspoken about what and who inspired him.

Despite the director’s apparent creative genius, Bong is quick to give credit where credit is due elsewhere with regard to his wildly successful film, currently dominating award season and a clear favorite among critics for Best Picture at the Oscars next month. 

Parasite is the very first South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes, with Bong becoming the first Korean director to take home the award. This triumph is especially significant given that last year’s winner, director Hirokazu Kore-eda, was also Asian.

Easter Eggs

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Bong spoke about how he was influenced by the work of Alfred Hitchcock while making Parasite. In particular, he drew inspiration from the “structure” of Bates’ house in the film Psycho. (The house. Not the motel.)

If studied more closely, there are other subtle nods to Hitchcock throughout the film as well. The presence of voyeurism in the film is certainly familiar, thinking back to Hitchcock’s thrilling Rear Window, which keeping to his modus operandi of incorporating “stairs” into significant moments of the plot.

Stairs are prominent in Hitchcock’s work, and the revered director has been quoted saying that stairs are “very photogenic.” Number Seventeen, Shadow of a Doubt and Vertigo are all examples of Hitchcock films that prominently feature shots of stairs.

There is also a certain frame of the film in which you can see an Alfred Hitchcock collection in the house.

In the Vanity Fair piece, Bong also takes care to give high praise to his fellow Oscar-nominated directors whose work he admires greatly such as Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. The latter of the two, Bong has become close friends with.

Bong’s Personal Life

In addition to Hitchcock’s cinematic style, Bong drew from his own experiences when crafting the plot for Parasite as well as the overall aesthetic of the Park family’s home.

In his college days, Bong himself was a tutor for a young boy from a wealthy family. He made sure to include little things that surprised him the most about the home, such as the private sauna. It was during his time tutoring the middle-school child of this family of luxury that Bong first created the seed of his idea for Parasite.

Tutoring jobs, Bong realized when beginning the script for Parasite, was one of the rare ways that a very poor family could ever cross paths with a rich family in Korea.

According to an interview with Korean magazine Cine21, Bong experienced high levels of anxiety when filming in an ultra-rich Korean home. When returning a swanky, high tech trash can that was used as a prop in the film, Bong recalled his hand visibly shaking, simply in response to holding the thing.

Bong has directed seven films to date, but Parasite was only his second film made up entirely of Korean actors, Mother (2009) being the first.

Not surprisingly, there has already been talk of an American remake of Parasite, but it was said to still in the very early stages. A CJ Entertainment rep has since tried to set the record straight that there were no “formal” talks currently.

Although, in the current state of filmmaking where anything and everything is being remade for younger audiences or based on cultural palatability — it cannot be long now.

Alexi Melvin is the Senior Entertainment Writer at Grit Daily. Based in San Francisco, she covers entertainment, events, and their intersection of tech. She is a voice actress, known for her work in the Star Wars franchise films. She is also fluent in both English and Sarcasm.

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