Parasite is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated movies of the last year, and of the last decade. It is a masterclass of storytelling and filmmaking that every scene is meticulously planned by the societal urgency of director Bong Joon-ho and is layered with interpretation, intrigue and introspection. Over the many film aspects that already had an in-depth analysis, one of the elements within Parasite that has yet to be covered is the use of Morse code.
Since this will be a discussion of the movie subject, spoilers ahead!
Just a brief introduction, Morse code is a communications method, designed by American inventor Samuel F. B. Morse. Morse designed a series of encoding text characters with dots and dashes for each letter of the alphabet, each Arabic numeral and a small set of punctuation and procedural symbols. This code system has been applied by many countries in terms of their military technology, including South Korea.
In the context of Parasite, Morse code has been applied twice in the film. One is the instances that a mysterious figure living underneath the Park family house named Geun-sae has been intercepting messages, using a light sensor, to an oblivious Mr. Park and an observant Da-song, who encoded the message but did not do anything as a result nor was not able to encode Geun-sae’s messages well.
The second is by Mr. Kim Ki-taek, who retreated to the same hideout as Geun-sae had and desperately sent calls for help using the same light sensor, in hope that his son Ki-woo will receive it. (Ki-woo soon catches this and decodes every message to learn that his father is alive and hiding, making him formulate a “plan”.) The movie also implies that Ki-woo and Da-song were linked to the Boy Scouts, and that the Korean Scout Association taught the two how to read Morse code, both in Korean and English.
Just reflecting who made the best use of Morse code only adds more layers to this outstanding film. So, what can be learned here?
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