My husband and I moved to our current city almost five years ago, and I remember experiencing sticker shock. Everything cost more than we imagined. And unfortunately, we moved as a single-income couple and then became a family of three. We were transplants with no real support system, living life at the bottom of our otherwise affluent suburb.

We spent our first three years living in a half-underground condo. Just above my view of our stairs leading up to the courtyard, I could see mansions across the street. I gawked at them, wondering what kind of people lived there and if we’d ever live in a house of our own. Deep down I knew that those houses, and those lives, would always be beyond my reach.

Imagine my surprise when Parasite opened with a family that also lives half-underground. The Kim family—made up of father Ki-Taek, mother Chung-sook, and a grown son and daughter, Ki-woo and Ki-jeong—are on the fringe of South Korean society. They struggle to put food on the table, working temporary, low-paying jobs and living one disaster away from total destitution. The family is not only poor but forgotten, left to slowly work toward upward mobility or die trying.

However, the family’s fortunes quickly improve after Ki-woo takes over his friend’s cushy private tutoring job for the wealthy Park family. In short succession, the whole Kim family is hired without letting on that they’re related to one another—the daughter faking her credentials as an art therapist, the father taking over from a wrongfully implicated chauffeur, and the mother becoming the new housekeeper after they conspire to remove her predecessor.

The Kims are surprisingly competent in each of their roles. They are not people ...

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