“The script for Parasite begins as follows: “Dark and hopeful music plays.” For a long time, I contemplated whether this piece of music could actually exist. Director Bong (Joon-ho) and I began with a sound that could permeate through the entire film and progress with focus. What is the one singular tone that can accompany emotions ranging from the most trivial humiliation to the extremities of murder, express all sorts of chaos, and embody the exhilaration of speed, or peace, or loneliness, or messy and dirty situations?
I thought that a string orchestra could express these various narratives with one consistent tone — the elegant and refined sounds of baroque music, grotesque and neurotic sounds of contemporary music reminiscent of Penderecki or Ligeti, sounds used to heighten emotions in many films, and violin and cello sounds that carry the bleakness of wandering nomads. In terms of the melody, it was structured as a repetition of ascension and descent as the Kim family ascends to the rich house only to descend back to their poor home and further below to the dreadful bunker hidden beneath the Park family’s basement.
The final music that closes the film is “Soju One Glass.” Director Bong said that he wants the audience to crave a shot of soju as they leave the theater after watching the film. Soju, the cheapest Korean liquor, has been with the joys and sorrows of everyday Koreans for decades. I think he wanted the audience to leave the theater feeling bitter after facing the pain and helplessness of reality, woeful from Ki-woo’s impossible dream, and wanting to release the inexplicable frustration and disquiet this movie brings. To paint a picture of Ki-woo drinking soju while mulling over his unattainable dream, sleeping on the streets, and waking up to a lonely morning, the actor Choi Woo-shik sang the song himself and Director Bong wrote the lyrics.
I haphazardly recorded the song with my guitar after sleeping on my studio floor, and I couldn’t recreate the rough recording’s sense of misery and shabbiness in the actual recording studio, so we ended up just using the demo version. I hope you enjoy the music. Thank you.” — Jung Jae Il