Korean director John Bong’s highlighted works of “ Okja” and “Parasites.”

Selfish Dreamer
15 min readJun 11, 2020



John Bong is a movie director who has recently received an Oscar award for his excellent works in the movie “Parasite.”

Bong directs various videos, but those of interest in this case study are the films Parasite and Okja. Parasite is a movie that presents a poor family that struggles to make ends meet. The family has a chance to live and work in a wealthy man’s home after their son lands a job as a tutor to Parks daughter, Dahye. Kim’s family uses dubious means to infiltrate the upper class. The central theme in the movie includes class, conflict, social inequality and disparities between the rich and the poor. The movie represents two social class, the rich and the poor. It gives details about how the poor struggle for richness and behave in dubious ways just to change their class position.

On the other hand, Okja is a movie about a ten-year-old girl called Mija who raises a pig that is given to them by a company owned by Lucy Miranda. The company starts a new project with the belief that it would revolutionize the food. Maja’s family receives one of the pig. They raise it using natural means. Mija and Okja are best friends and accompany each other in the forest and the river. The time comes when Miranda’s company transport Okja to Seoul. Mija fights hard to ensure that Okja’s life is spared. The main themes in the movie are determination, animal liberator and wealth and poverty. Thus, it is critical to compare the cinematography, themes, setting and target audience.

Summary of Parasite

Parasite is a movie that is directed by John Bong Ho that leads him to win the Oscars award. The South a Film is about Kim’s family that lives in poverty in a small apartment and struggles to make ends meet. The family is made up of mother, father, son and daughter. They take odd jobs such as folding pizza boxes to make ends meet and rely on unprotected Wi-Fi from nearby businesses to access the internet. They also rely on street cleaning pesticides to keep their home insect-free. Their life changes when their son Kim-woo came across an opportunity to tutor the daughter of a rich man. Though Kim-woo has no qualifications and experience in teaching, he accepts the offer and forged credentials. Kim-woo uses dubious means to ensure every member of his family works for the Parks. However, the housekeeper Moon-gwang who is replaced by Chung –sook, returns after the Parks leave for a camping trip.

Moon-gwang and her husband Geun-sae, who leaves in the basement of the Park’s house, understand the dubious ways of the Kim’s. When the Park’s come home earlier, Kim’s trap Geun-sae and Moon-gwang in the bunker. The conflict begins when Kim-woo attacks Geun-sae with a rock and escapes. Geun-sae revenge by attacking Ki-Jung with a knife. Ki-teak attends to Ki-Jung, but, Mr Park orders him to take Da-song to hospital. Da-song suffers from seizure because he thinks Geun-sae is a ghost. Ki-teak attacks and kills Mr. Park with a knife when he sees his reaction towards Geun-Sae’s smell. The film ends with Ki-Jung dying from a head injury, Ki-teak wanted for murder and a Germany family buying the Park’s house.

Summary of the Film Okja

The onset of the film presents Lucy Miranda takes over the company after her father and sister. During the takeover, Miranda introduces a new program that involved presenting genetically engineered animals to ten farmers in different countries to raise them. The program is to revolutionize the food industry. Later, they will host a competition to unveil the farmer that raises the best pig at their grand opening ceremony. The film then presents a ten years old girl called Mija, raising an elephant-like pig named Okja. She lives with her grandfather on top of the mountain ever since her parent’s death. She finds solace in Okja the pig, and they spent most of the time walking in the hills and playing in the river.When the time comes for the Mirando’s company to take the pigs away from the farmers, Mundo arrives with a zoologist to determine if the pig is to win the context. The zoologist is glad to see the pig and ordered the crew to film it. Mija hears the zoologist say that the pig will be transported to New York for the context. Mija does not understand English but only hears the Word “New York.” The grandfather takes Mija to the farm to see her parent’s graves and gives her a golden pig that he bought using the money that he receives as compensation for raising Okja. Mija becomes angry when her grandfather tells her that Okja has been taken away and would spend a night at Seoul before being taken to America. She later runs away and takes buses and subways until she gets to the Mirando’s building located in Seoul.

Mija undergoes different encounters with both good and bad people as she tries to rescue the pig. At some point, she met thieves who claim to be good guys from animals Liberators Front. One of sympathizes with Mija’s and as he discovers that story considers the pig as part of her family. Back in New York, Miranda is not impressed by the YouTube videos that show how Mija is struggling to rescue the pig. Finally, Mija and Jay get a chance to enter the factory and witness the way the animals are hung, stripped and ripped into half. As she watches the stripping process, she sees Okja pass over to be hung. She shouts at the workers to stop and shows them her photo with Okja. Luckily, Nancy, Lucy Mirando’s sister, comes in and Mija shows her the golden pig saying she wants to buy Okja alive. Nancy agrees because the golden pig is expensive. Finally, Mija walks away with Okja.

Differences between the film Parasite and Okja

The Tittles

The title of the film “Parasite” represents Kim’s family. The poor family act like parasites in the film. The word parasite means depending on other people to survive. At the beginning of the Film, Kim’s family depend on unsecured Wi-Fi to access the internet. The children climb the stairs in the house to find an unsecured network. Also, the family seem to depend on the public fumigation to kill insects around their home. Finally, Kim’s family infiltrate and creep into the Park’s family. They use dubious means to ensure their family works and depends on the rich man. When the Parks family goes on a trip, Kim’s family feel comfortable as they utilize their resources around their home.

In contrast, the tittle Okja is the name of the pig that Mija and her grandfather raise. Okja is a character in the movie which is very close to Mija. They spent most of the times on the farm and in the hills. They share secrets, protect each other and give each other company. However, Okja is a genetically engineered animal and returns to Miranda’s company after ten years. Miranda is determined to rescue Okja from slaughter. She manages to save her friends life after giving Miranda a golden pig, and they go back to their old life. Thus, the title “Parasite” is symbolic of the character’s behaviour, while the title “Okja” represents a character in the film.

The setting of the movies

The visual representation of the place and the events in which the film took place are very different. The beginning of the film “Parasite” presents the poor Kim’s home. They live in a shabby and crampy in a lower-class street that is very busy. The environment around their home represents an environment that lower-class people live. They depend on manual jobs and unsecured Wi-Fi to conduct their activities. Later in the movie, Kim’s son gets a tutoring job in a rich man’s house. The environment in the rich man’s home represents that of people who have money and resources. Their house is a modern one and is designed by a former resident who is a famed architecture. The environment around Park’s family is not populated, and they have a beautiful garden outside the house. The furniture and other items inside the home are costly.

On the other hand, the movie Okja begins in a forest-like environment where Mija and her grandfather lives and raise the pig, Okja. The environment has rivers, hills and trees. The farm has trees with fruits and had valleys and ridges. After some time the Mirando’s company transport Okja to Seoul. Mija is used to the pig and is sad to hear that the pig will eventually die. That night she packs some of her clothes plus the golden pig that her grandfather gives her and left for Seoul. In Seoul, she goes to Mirando’s company to look for Okja. Thus, the setting of the film “Okja” takes place first in the hills in the forest, then in New York City and later back in the hills.


The cinematography of the film “Parasite” attempted to show the differences between the rich and the poor. The image is created in a way that the audience can easily distinguish the rich from the poor. The amount of sunshine used in the topography of the semi-basement area in the residence of the rich and the poor was distinguishable. In the rich man’s house, there is sufficient lighting from the sun all day long. In contrast, the lighting in Ki-tea’s house comes through a small window in the semi-basement house and see for a short moment during the day. Also, the things visible to the rich are different from the poor ( Desowitz, 2020). The poor see the street floor, garbage, strangers urinating near their homes and public servants fumigating the streets. Lastly, the rain was an essential visual device. There is a threat of flooding in the lower class environment where never it rained, but there was a Parks house built on a secure highland that was not threatened by the rains.

In the film, “Okja” cinematography represents agriculture and business. At the start, the film presents Mija and Okja on the farm on a hill. The environment around is favorable for farming as it has trees and rivers. The farm is full of fruits that Mija and Okja pick and eat. Also, the visuals shows the close relationship between Mija and Okja. They hug each other and share secrets. They also rescue each other from danger and protect each other. Later in the film, the visuals represent a capitalism system of economy. Mirando’s control of the factory and the servants take orders from them. Lucy or her sister Nancy make decisions, and the servants obey them strictly. For instance, Nancy orders the worker to release the pig after she receives a golden pig from Mija.

The target audience

The target audience of the film parasite is the general public, especially teenagers and adults. The film intends to inform the public of the current situation of most lives of the middle-class people in the world as they struggle to get rich ( Ulbay, 2019). The movie uses the Korean language, but subtitles are added to it so that people can understand it in different languages. It reveals how the poor use dubious means to take over the wealth of the wealthy in this capitalistic system of economy. It also reveals that the dubious ways of acquiring wealth are not worth the struggle because their end amounts to nothing (Wilkinson, 2020).

On the other hand, the target audience of the Film Okja is children. The cinematography of the movie and the use of fables are intended to capture the attention of the children. Mija is also a child because she is just ten years old. Furthermore, children like adventurous films. In this case, Okja is an adventurous movie that shows the adventure in the hills and the forest. Mija and Okja spent most of their time movie around the forest firm (Harvey, 2019).

Wealth and poverty

In Parasite, the theme of poverty is evident in Kim’s family. At the beginning of the movie, Kim’s live in a slummy like house that has a semi-basement that is common among the poor people. They cannot cater for some of the bills like house fumigation and the WI-FI. When Kim’s family got an opportunity to work for the rich, they wanted to use that as an opportunity to get wealth. However, fate brought them back to the same situation at the end of the movie. Moon-gwan’s family was another poor family they worked as servants for the Parks. On the other hand, the Parks family is wealthy. They lived a good life and managed to go out on family tours. They also held celebrations in their mansion and could hire tutors for their children (Desowitz, 2019).

Furthermore, the framing and the shooting style of the movie helped to convey the theme of wealth and poverty. In the wealthy family, the house interior is comfortably washed in warm natural daylight. The window allowed someone to view a beautiful flower garden that was in the compound. In contrast, in a poor home, light only emerges through a small window. The small window could manage to enable the family to view the drunkards as they urinated near their house. The theme of class and poverty is not visible in the movie Okja.

Similarities in the film Parasite and Okja


Capitalism is an economic system in which individuals rather than the state owns the factors of production. The class inequality that is evident in the movie parasite is interconnected with the capitalistic system. Mr Park is wealth and educated person who has afforded to access many profitable opportunities than Kim’s family. Mr Park also came from a wealthy family and therefore he has a chance of being wealthy too. On the other hand, Kim’s family is poor and cannot be able to secure high paying employment that will enable them to break the poverty chain. These cases reflect a capitalistic system of economy.

Similarly, the theme of capitalism is seen in parasite movie. Lucy Miranda is a wealthy man’s daughter inherits her father’s business. Her company takes the pigs after ten years and slaughters them. They then sell the pigs to the consumers. They do their activities for monetary gain. They also control all the activities that happen in their business. Mija had to exchange a golden pig for Okja to convince Nancy to release the pig. Nancy accepts the golden pig because of its value. Hence, both of John Bong movies reveal the theme of capitalism.

The Ending

Both films end from where they started. In the film parasite, the film begins with the introduction of the poor state of Kim’s family. The family lives in a poor state in a small shabby and crampy like house in the lower street. They cannot cater for their own bills such as fumigation and internet. They depend on manual jobs and public fumigation services. Later, the family starts to live a good life when the son secures a job as a tutor in the rich man’s family. The son Kim-woo uses con ways to ensure each member of their family secures a job in the Park’s family. They lead a good life especially when the Parks are away on a camping trip. At the end of the movie the Park host a house party for their son Da-song where chaos erupted and Kim-woo is attacked by Geun-sae who bludgeons him with a rock. Also, Mr. Park is killed by Ki-teak before fleeing. When Kim-woo recovers after the brain surgery they go back to their old state of poverty. Kim-woo moves to live with his mother as he vows to work hard and buy a house as well as free his father. The film ends with Kim’s family living in poverty.

Similarly, the Film Okja begins with Mija, her grandfather and Okja living on their farm in the hills. Okja and Mija are great friends, and they spent most of the times moving around the farm, in the mountains and deep in the forest as they search for fruits. They find comfort from each other and also share secrets. Later, Okja is supposed to go to New York for a contest. After the contest, Miranda’s company took Okja to the slaughterhouse. Mija fights to ensure Okja’s life is safe. She gives Nancy her golden pig and Okja is released. The movie ends with Mija and Miranda on the farm in the hills. They remain to be friends and move around together. They share secrets and other adventures. Both of John Bong’s movies the “Parasite” and “Okja” have a similar ending that brings the audience to the start of the film.

Determination of the characters in the film

In the film “Okja” one of the characters, Mija is determined to save the life of her friend. Mija was ten years old when Mundo arrives with a famous renowned zoologist Johnny Wilcox to examine Okja to determine if she wins the context. The zoologist is speechless upon seeing Okja and orders the crew to film her because she is going to New York for the contest. Mija and her grandfather do not understand the English language, but she only hears the word, New York. Mija is determined to go to Seoul to rescue the pig, Okja. She packs her belongings and the golden pigs and lefts for Seoul. Her grandfather tried to stop her, but she was determined to reach Mirando’s company. After the contest Mija takes buses and Subways until she gets to Mirando’s company which was located in Seoul. She uses force to enter the building. She uses all her efforts to rescue Okja.

Similarly, in the film Parasites, Kim-woo is determined to rescue his family from poverty. At first, when his friend approaches him with an offer to be a tutor to a rich man’s daughter, he is reluctant. However, he fakes the credentials and took up the task. He also uses the chance and uses dubious means to help his family members secure jobs in the Park’s house. Ki-Jung changes the name to Jessica and secures the job as art therapy to Park’s son Da-Song. Ki-teak becomes the driver of the family, and also Chung-sook becomes the house Keeper. Also, Kim –woo displays determination after he recovered from brain surgery and said he would work hard to buy a house.


The film parasite and Okja utilizes symbolism to present its themes. Symbols are tangible objects within a film that presents something greater than what they are. John Bong uses symbolism in both movies. In parasites the stone is symbolic. The stone is presented to Kim’s by their most successful friend, and it represents prosperity. After receiving the stone, Kim’s lives changes, and they started getting opportunities. Kim-woo secures a job as a tutor in a wealthy man’s home and helps the other family members secure jobs too. Also, the smell is used to distinguish the rich and the poor. At the beginning of the movie, Kim’s lived in a low-class environment and the smell around attracted insects. As they move to the mansion in the Parks Home, the smells clean and the food smells delicious.

Similarly, in the Film Okja, there is symbolism. The golden pig that the grandfather gives to Mija on the day that Okja was taken away to the contest in New York is symbolic. The golden pig made of pure gold and reminisces are given to girls who are getting married. In this case, the pig is to inform Mina that she is grown and should stop playing with the pig in the mountain. The golden pig was acting as a message to prepare Mija for life away from the pig. Okja is later taken to New York, but Mija rescues her and brings her back home. In both Movies, John Bong used symbols that pass different messages.

Use of Dubious means for personal gain

In both films, Parasites and Okja, characters use con means for personal gain. In Parasite, Kim-woo uses dubious ways to get a job as a tutor though he does not qualify for it. He also uses con means to ensure that the other servants that used to work for Mr Park leave their jobs and his family members replace them. Kim-woo does all this so that his family can get money and become wealthy. Similarly, in the Film Okja, Lucy Mirando, the CEO of the company that sells pork, uses dubious ways to make people purchase her products. She lies to the people about the origin of the pigs because she understands that people freak out over genetic mutations. Also, she plans to hide from the public the fact that she takes Mija’s pet. If people learn of her forceful acts in taking the pig, they will have a bad reputation about her company.

Conclusively, the film “Parasite” and “Okja” that is directed by John Bong Ho are comparative. There are many aspects of the film that are similar while others are different. The similarities in the movie are seen in the themes, behaviours of the characters, the ending of the film and the symbolism. In contrast, the aspects of the film that are distinguishable include the meaning of the title of the movie, the themes of the film, the targeted audience, the setting and the target audience.



Selfish Dreamer

Beginner in writing . Multilingual and am working to practice my language and writing skill in multiple languages. Interested in movie critiques & social issues