‘Parasite’ Director Bong Joon Ho Says the Architect of His Movie House Thought He Was ‘An Idiot’

The Oscars certainly don’t think Bong Joon Ho is an idiot. They honored him awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best International Feature for Parasite. HBO doesn’t either. They’re developing a TV series based on the film. However, not everyone making Parasite was so enamored with Director Bong. The architect who built the house in which Bong set the film had strong words for him. 

Jo Yeo-jeong in Parasite
Jo Yeo-jeong in Parasite | Neon CJ Entertainment

Parasite is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. In the bonus features, Bong gives a Q&A at a film festival screening. Here is the story of why the architect of the Parasite house called Bong an idiot.

Bong Joon Ho built the house into the ‘Parasite’ script

The Park family house was the central location of all the events in Parasite. The Kim family installs themselves as help in the Park house and that’s where things get crazy. The Parks’ lavish house had to be built to spec for Bong.

Park So-dam and Choi Woo-sik in Parasite | Neon CJ Entertainment

“Even since we began building the set for the rich house, I had a lot of requests. I already had a basic sketch of the house structure in mind when I was writing the script. Without that certain structure, it was almost impossible to tell the narrative. Also there are a lot of things that were necessary for the story in terms of the structure. If some characters are talking here, another character had to eavesdrop or peak. You had to be able to see the staircase through the front door. There were these several requirements I had.”

Bong Joon Ho, Parasite DVD and Blu-ray

Bong Joon Ho consulted a real architect for ‘Parasite’

Bong sent production designer Lee Ha-jun to meet with real architects about the Parasite house. The architects were not fond of the screenplay’s demands.

Bong Joon Ho's Parasite
L-R: Choi Woo-Shik, Song Kang-ho, Chang Hyae-jin and Park So-dam in Parasite | Neon CJ Entertainment

“So the production designer actually sought out advice from actual architects to build this house. The production designer would take my request to the actual architect and the architect would be like, ‘What kind of idiot would build houses this way? No one builds houses this way. So the architect would come back to me with those comments and I would still have all these things that I requested from him. So he really suffered between me and the architect. Ultimately the house came out beautifully. I was able to get all the structure and the blocking that the story required.”

Bong Joon Ho, Parasite DVD and Blu-ray

One scene that paid off the unorthodox in ‘Parasite’

An example of a scene that utilized the specific design of the house is one in which the Kims hide in the bedroom while the Parks have sex.

Bong Joon Ho and Sharon Choi
Bong Joon Ho and interpreter Sharon Choi | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“In reality it’s very rare for the rich and poor to come so close to each other that they can smell one another. In this film you have situations where they come very close to one another through tutoring or housekeeping and driving. And that sex scene is sort of on the pinnacle of that strange intimacy. It’s not really about the sex. It’s about the family that’s hiding under the table and peeping at that very intimate part of their private lives. So I thought it would give a really powerful tension in the film.”

Bong Joon Ho, Parasite DVD and Blu-ray

Bong Joon Ho built more than the house

The Park house was the major build for Parasite, but Bong had to build a few other sets for other scenes in the movie.

Oscar-nominated Parasite
Lee Sun-kyun and Jo Yeo-jeong in Parasite | Neon CJ Entertainment

“Another thing that was difficult was the poor house and the neighborhood surrounding that house,” Bong said. “They were also sets that we built. Also because we had to flood the entire neighborhood, we built it in a giant swimming pool, a water tank and on the last day of shooting, we poured in sewage water. It looks like dirty water. It was very clean water for the actors. It had the face masks in the water, like mud face masks, very healthy and good for your skin.”