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In Session: Radical Heritage: PostAsia in Performance and Media
2: Compressed Modernity, Foreclosure, and Ghosts: Survival Anxiety in Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
12:00pm – 1:30pm EDT
Minwoo (Minu) Park
University of California, Irvine, United States
As the film Parasite won wide recognition and popularity since its release and more after its 2020 Oscars Best Picture Award, Bong Joon Ho, the film’s director, made repeated comments about the curious bind between locality and universality. His piercing remarks at the award ceremony, which called attention to the neglect of non-English movies by the Hollywood-led global film industry and the locality of the Oscars, gained acclaim from many critics and moviegoers.
This project investigates Parasite’s international appeal as a film rooted deeply in South Korean socioeconomic context, with a focus on compressed modernity. Introduced in 1999 by sociologist Kyung-Sup Chang as a term to distinguish itself from the western modernization process, compressed modernity points to the mode of rapid modernization underwent by South Korea. The terminology’s quick gain in popularity within and outside of South Korea, first by its Asian neighbors, then by the European countries, to account for the instabilities and anxieties they face from accelerated modernization, provides an insight into the intricacy of international socioeconomic connections.
I employ the Lacanian concept of foreclosure to explicate on the traces of compressed modernity featured in Parasite, which manifests in the scene where the subaltern existence presents itself in the form of ghost, and comes back to haunt the society attached to progress. The project’s focus on the invisibility of lives described as parasitic and their invasion into the host’s world that erased parasite existence, rings close to the world now facing the invisible haunting of the pandemic.