Review of Parasite (Movie) – Xixiang Weng (weng.156)

The material I choose for this assignment is a Korean film named Parasite, which is released in 2019. The plot of this movie starts as Kim Ki-woo, who is the son of Kim’s family got a tutor job of Park family by the recommendation of his friend. After that, all the members of Kim’s family use some strategy to successfully get jobs in the Park family. During the time working for Park’s family, the difference of the social class initials the contradiction between two families. At last, in an accidental event, the father of the Park’s family is killed by the father of Kim’s family.

In this movie, “smell” and “line” go through the most of plot and they become the sign of the social status. For instance, in the middle of the movie, while Kim’s family make a party at Park’s house when they think Park’s family is go hiking and won’t return in a short time, Park’s family suddenly go back home since the change of weather. Kim’s family hide under the sofa in a hurry. Father of the Park family don’t see them and start to make a casual talk to his wife which is about he thinks father of Kim’s family smells bad, and usually pass the “line”, such as talk to him like they are friends, which make him very uncomfortable. This conversation is heard by Kim’s family hiding under the sofa in the meantime. When I watch this plot last year, I used to think about where the “smell” on Kim’s family comes from and what is the “line” they talk about. After thinking about it, I think the “smell” of Kim’s family is the moldy smell of the semi-basement without sunlight. However, I think the “smell” represents more than itself. It reveals the different living environments between rich and poor people which can also be extended to the concern of difference of social status. The father of the Park family also really cares about the “line” between himself and the father of Kim’s family. He cannot bear that poor people talk to him in a relative equals atmosphere. In his mind, Kim’s family is treated as “Othering”. This is very similar to the condition Ortiz faced in the material we have read before, “The Story of My Body”. The only difference I think between those two is that Ortiz is treated as “Othering” by her physical looking, but Kim’s family is treated as “Othering” by their socioeconomic status.

In general, I think the creator of this movie wants the audience to think about the cruelty and injustice caused by wealth differentiation. In my opinion, he did a very good job. He skillfully uses the “smell” and “line” to represent the injustice and the difference of identity and power between rich and poor people, but not state them directly. I think in this way the audience could get more impressive and deeper thinking about the injustice and “Othering”.

Origin and Impact of the Indian Caste System

Quick note from Caroline: this is a great big-picture overview of the history of caste in India. I want to point out that the word “Aryan” as used here is not what the Nazis meant. The Nazis borrowed a lot of their language and symbols about race superiority from 19th-century pseudoscience about White northern Europeans moving across Eurasia and founding all the great civilizations. This is nonsense. The origin of the term Aryan in ancient Hindu texts (ca. 1500-500BCE) is uncertain, but in this context, it refers to the people who dominated what is now northern India and Pakistan. Ethnic, cultural, and linguistic differences are also tied to caste in India historically and today…but not Nazis. Now, back to Xixiang’s summary.

The caste system (tied to Hinduism) has a long history and there has long been contentious in the origin of this system. In recent years, the most accepted explanation of the origin is related to the Aryans since many pieces of research support this hypothesis. For example, Dr. Sharma’s team proved that there exists a strong relationship between the status in the caste system and a special chromosome which is the trait of the Aryans (Sharma, et al. 50).

Following the hypothesis related to the Aryans, around 1500 BC, the Aryans arrived at the Indian subcontinent and they conquered the local Indian tribes with their advanced technology (Deshpande, 19). To classify their ruler’s status from those local people, the class division between the conqueror and the conquered has been created. That is the prototype of the caste system. Later, as the interaction between the Aryan conquerors and the indigenous people, the social hierarchy has developed from two to four. The Aryans were divided into three levels internally: the Hindu priestly aristocracy – Brahmins; the military chiefs – Kshatriyas; and the free civilians engaged in various productive labor – Vaishyas. On the other hand, most local people are classified into the lowest level, which is Shudras who need to subordinate to Vaishyas, Kshatriyas, and Brahmins. Besides, some of the local people have been excluded from this system, and they are called Dalits or Untouchables who are in the lowest social status and being most discriminated against (Deshpande, 22). The graph below is a general presentation of the caste system hierarchy.

The Caste System Explained

To secure their status, the Aryans dominator set up several restrictions. The most essential one is that your caste is only determined by your parents. Also, the marriage across the caste is prohibited. Besides, people from low status are prohibited to pursue a high-level career (Mason, 648). For example, if you are born as a Shudras or Dalits, you can only do some dirty physical work since decent jobs are reserved for Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas. Combining those restrictions, we can find that there doesn’t exist any chance for the people from Shudras and Dalits to gain a better life in such social hierarchy.

Nowadays, with the help of the Indian government, the effect of the caste system has already been much less than before. In the rural area, movement out of caste specializing occupations and access to resources is still difficult, but in urban areas, people can pursue their desired job without considering their caste (Deshpande, 31). As time goes by, I believe that the impact of caste would keep decreasing, and Indian society would become more equal.


Work Cited

Deshpande, Manali S. “History of the Indian Caste System and Its Impact on India Today.” DigitalCommons@CalPoly, Dec. 2010,

Joe, and Thomas DeMichele. “The Caste System Explained.” Fact/Myth, 27 Nov. 2018,

Mason Olcott. “The Caste System of India.” American Sociological Review, vol. 9, no. 6, 1944, pp. 648–657. JSTOR, Accessed 16 Mar. 2020.

Sharma, S., Rai, E., Sharma, P. et al. The Indian origin of paternal haplogroup R1a1* substantiates the autochthonous origin of Brahmins and the caste system. J Hum Genet 5447–55 (2009).

Systemic Injustice Triggered by Coronavirus Virus in China (weng.156)

By Xixiang Weng

Recently, the new coronavirus spread around the world and make thousands of people suffer. Wuhan is the first city where this virus mass outbreak and its residents are the people who suffer most from that. Unluckily, the virus is not the only thing to make them in trouble. Their identity of Wuhan’s resident also makes them face injustices.

Due to the fear of the virus, Chinese people in other provinces tend to be away from Wuhan people. For example, if you are a Wuhan people and you go to another province. People would think that you get no sense of responsibility since you make all the people under the risk of being infected. Besides, although Chinese officials claim that they have warned against the discrimination against Wuhan people, some policy they set up, such as restrict Wuhan people’s normal use of state road, shows the discrimination to Wuhan people. Some local governments even set up road blockage in the road to Wuhan, which makes many Wuhan people who work outside can’t meet their family during the Lunar New Year.                     The Chinese government set up road blockage in the road to Wuhan

Also, in some big city, such as Shanghai and Guangzhou, the local government order the neighborhood committee to encourage people to report the Wuhan’s resident or Wuhan returnees around them, so that they can send them back to Wuhan.

When Wuhan people are suffering from the virus, as their compatriot, we are supposed to try our best to help them go through that, however, some unreasonable policy Chinese government set and discrimination some Chinese people express make Wuhan people face so much injustice. The video below is an interview with a Wuhan people living in Beijing, she narrates can make us know more about the current situation of Wuhan people I describe above.

The injustice Wuhan people are facing reminds me of the “The Story of My Body”. People think Ortiz is “dirty” since her different physical looks and Puerto Rican identity (Ortiz 436). Similarly, Wuhan people are treated as “The Other” by their compatriots while they are suffering from the virus. In some Chinese people’s sight, Wuhan’s residents are already not their compatriot, but just the virus which needs to be segregated. This circumstance not only expresses some Chinese people and government’s unreasonable attitude of facing the plague, but also the systemic injustice Wuhan people are currently facing.


Work Cited

Gan, Nectar. “Outcasts in Their Own Country, the People of Wuhan Are the Unwanted Faces of China’s Coronavirus Outbreak.” Albany Herald, CNN, 15 Feb. 2020,

Our Enemy Is the Virus, Not People from Hubei or Wuhan – YouTube, South China Morning Post,