Director Bong Joon-ho on ‘Parasite’s’ Real-Life Inspirations

Director Bong Joon-ho revealed that personal experiences informed certain aspects of his Palme d’Or-winning film “Parasite.” The character Kim Ki-woo, a tutor portrayed by South Korean actor Choi Woo-shik (“Okja”), was partially inspired by the director’s own experiences.

“When I was in college, I also worked as a tutor,” Bong told Variety Wednesday at the Los Angeles premiere of “Parasite” at the ArcLight in Hollywood. “I took inspiration from the various people around me: those who were rich, those who were poor. I was very much inspired by the people I encountered on a daily basis.”

The class warfare concept for the darkly comedic drama came to Bong while wrapping his 2013 film “Snowpiercer.”

“This time, I didn’t want to tell the story in a sci-fi format,” he said. “I wanted the story to feel like a story that surrounds us on a daily basis, something that’s more realistic and natural.”

For his next film, which will reportedly be a horror-action set around a disaster in Seoul, the director said his idea goes back much further.

“Seventeen years is a very long time,” Bong said of the upcoming project’s gestation in his mind. “The idea was basically like a parasite leeching off of me, in my brain. At one point, you have to take it out. Otherwise, you’ll get sick. I think now is really the time to take it out. I feel like I’m ready to tell the story.”

Gregg Araki, Rae Dawn Chong, Illeana Douglas, Thomas Jane and Anne Heche also turned out for Wednesday night’s premiere of “Parasite,” which hits theaters Oct. 11.

Before he leaves Los Angeles, Bong says he’s hoping to see Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” at the Tarantino-owned New Beverly Cinema. Bong missed the Cannes premiere of “Hollywood” due to his busy schedule. “I’m a huge fan of [Tarantino’s] work,” he said.  “I love his theater there, the New Beverly. It would be great to see it in that theater. I had the opportunity to watch it in Cannes, but I was so busy with promotion that I couldn’t. I can’t wait to see it.”

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