The mansion that serves as the primary setting for Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite is entirely believable as the kind of lavish home a wealthy family (and a number of guests, uninvited or not) might live in. It’s also not a real house, having been created from the ground up by production designer Lee Ha-jun. A Great Big Story interview with Lee looks into how the Park family’s home was designed, including details on its food-based architectural inspiration.
Lee explains that his design philosophy is that “a set should not look like a set” before describing how Parasite’s mansion layout was informed by looking at “the Legos my son plays with,” as well as the way cutting into freshly-steamed tofu leaves some pieces standing while others fall over. “That configuration gave me an idea,” Lee says of the tofu before the video shows the blocky layout of the multi-story Park house.
The clip goes on to explain how the mansion’s four different sets were combined digitally in post-production to give the impression of an actual house. It also touches on wild stuff like how the trash can seen in the Park’s kitchen “cost $2,500" and that the huge painting in the family’s living room, while not given a concrete figure, was “very expensive.” Compared to these props, the ones used in the Kim family’s basement were “essentially free.” So, as it turns out, even when it comes to production design, the economic disparity between the Parks and Kims was pretty vast.
For more about Lee Ha-jun’s work on Parasite, watch the rest of the interview here.
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