Jinmo Yang reveals Parasite’s original title, why the switch, and more production secrets

Parasite movie: Mr Park Sun-kyun Lee and Yeon-kyo Park Yeo-jeong Jo in Parasite. Photo via EPK.tv
Parasite movie: Mr Park Sun-kyun Lee and Yeon-kyo Park Yeo-jeong Jo in Parasite. Photo via EPK.tv /

In addition to his excitement for the new Train to Busan 2, film editor Jinmo Yang shares with Hidden Remote Bong Joon Ho’s original title choice for Parasite, why there was a switch and more production secrets.

The twisted, breath-catching, dark comedy film Parasite is taking over box offices, film festivals, and even Oscar buzz. Director Bong Joon Ho and editor Jinmo Yang worked hard to create a genre-defying story with characters whose next moves could never be guessed. But Parasite’s production has secrets of its own. In this exclusive, Yang reveals Joon-ho’s original title choice for Parasite, why there was a switch and scenes that even shocked him as the editor.

Making over $11 million at U.S. theaters opening weekend, Parasite has become the highest grossing foreign film in North America this year. Parasite earned six prizes at the 28th Buil Film Awards including best supporting actor and actress, best screenplay, best cinematography and best score and earned “top honors” at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival. It’s the first Korean film to ever win the Palme D’or award.

Now grossing more than $19 million at the box offices, Parasite is not only earning itself a brand with west coast’s Alamo Drafthouse limited edition peach beer “Bong Joon Hops,” the film is also hypothesized to win an Oscar, director Joon Ho being a contender for  the award of “Best Director.”

While the film masks itself as a thriller, appearing to tell the story of how a poor family in South Korea infiltrates the rich, upper class home of another family of four, Parasite unravels into something else entirely.  While critics have debated the films themes and genre, going back and forth on whether it’s a horror film, drama, romance, thriller, or all of the above, editor Yang offers insight into the film’s purpose and why Joon Ho had no choice but to name his film “Parasite.”

Hidden Remote: You have worked with Director Bong Joon Ho on other projects such as Snowpiercer and Okja. Is that one of the reasons you wanted to be a part of making Parasite?

Jinmo Yang: Yes. Not just me, but all of the filmmakers in Korea were hoping director Bong would come back to make a Korean film. I was really looking forward to that opportunity. So I was really excited about jumping on board.

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Hidden Remote: What do you love so much about working with the director?

Yang: There’s always something I can learn from director Bong whenever we work together–how to write the screenplay, how to go about deciding how to shoot the film and even how to cut the film. I’m always learning something new. But also, In a weird way, we share a similar taste when it comes to our favorite films. So, when we are working on a film together, we have a shared interest in how to go about creating a great film.

Hidden Remote: The films that you and director Bong have worked on together previously all seem to touch on the human condition in one form or another. What made Parasite stand apart in the way that it addresses that topic?

Yang: Director Bong has always been dealing with the human condition in his films. But I think that Parasite is very detailed and, with this film, director Bong is at the peak of his game. In the case of Snowpiercer, the human condition that’s being dealt with is in the dialogue and sometimes it drags on. But in Parasite, that theme is really melted into the whole story. That’s how it’s different.

In every movie director Bong makes, the characters are really relatable. However, at the same time, there’s suspense within the drama within those relatable characters. And, if there’s a great amount of humor, director Bong always portrays it as dark comedy. That’s one of the reasons I love to work with him on movies. Bong’s universe always very different from other cinema out there.

Parasite movie: The Kim Family Woo-sik Choi Kang-ho Song Hye-jin Jang So-dam Park in Parasite. Photo via EPK.tv
Parasite movie: The Kim Family Woo-sik Choi Kang-ho Song Hye-jin Jang So-dam Park in Parasite. Photo via EPK.tv /

Hidden Remote: Some critics believe that this film could be up for an Oscar. How does that feel?

Yang: I’m really taken back. Even the fact that we got an award from Cannes Film Festival this year, I can’t believe it to this day. To be honest, Parasite deserves to be mentioned as a contender, but just the fact that I’m having this interview with you is still very unbelievable and exciting.

Hidden Remote: Parasite is definitely a movie that’s all over the place when it comes to genres and does an amazing job combining so many tones and themes together in one story. A big amount of credit for that goes to you as the editor. Are there any shots or sequences you’re particularly proud of looking at the finished product? 

Yang: I’m personally really proud of how the “Ram-Don” sequence came about, when mother is preparing the dinner for the Parks after they get back from camping and the rest of her family is running around the house trying not to be seen. My favorite part is when mother is running around with the pot of ram-don and kicks the housekeeper down the basement stairs.

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Hidden Remote: And who can forget that loud smack as she lands against that wall? It’s pretty shocking!

Yang: Even whenever I watch it, I gasp every time. I’m shocked. It’s almost too much.

Hidden Remote: What about the shot sequence of the son’s birthday party? There’s quite a bit of chaos and stabbing. It’s horrifying, but was that pretty fun to edit? 

Yang: It was actually painful, putting together that climax. But not because of the part where all the violence is happening. It’s right beforehand, where father and Mr. Park are having that conversation dressed up in Native American costumes. That was challenging because it had to deal with so much emotional development and negative emotions escalating. It’s an intense moment, so director Bong and I had to have a lot of patients working on that scene.

Hidden Remote: I know we don’t want to give too much away about the end of the film or pivotal moments within the story, but there are so many moments where audiences think they understand this film, and they think they know who the “parasite” is, but then the movie completely surprises them. I have to ask, where does the title Parasite come from? 

Yang: Actually, the film was not originally going to be called Parasite. It was originally going to be named after this French term for seeing the mirror image of another image. But as he worked on it, director Bong eventually thought everyone would be more like “parasites,” than mirror images. Not only the characters inside the movie, but also the audience who is watching the film, and perhaps even myself who is editing the film. I became sort of like the parasite to director Bong.

Parasite movie: Ki-jung Kim So-dam Park and Ki-woo Park Woo-sik Choi in Parasite. Photo via EPK.tv
Parasite movie: Ki-jung Kim So-dam Park and Ki-woo Park Woo-sik Choi in Parasite. Photo via EPK.tv /

 Hidden Remote: And then the title “Parasite” just stuck?

Yang: Well, to share a small anecdote, “Parasite” has a weirdly negative nuance in Korean culture. So there was a point where director Bong really considered changing the title. He was worried, as was the distributor, about how the film would be received by Korean audiences. But, by then, the title “Parasite” couldn’t be changed. It was already stuck. So we just went with it.

Hidden Remote: But it’s a title that really catches your eye and makes you wonder what the movie is about. I’m guessing it was still very well received in Korea? 

Yang: Yes, Parasite eventually did very well here. Director Bong was also worried about something else, though. He had previously made a movie called The Host, so when he came out with Parasite, he was concerned people would think it was a continuation of that story or that everyone would assume it’s a science fiction movie. But Parasite has been a great success with surprising a lot of people.

Hidden Remote: It certainly has. And now you have a couple other anticipated projects that you’re working on, too?

Yang: Right now, I’m working on a film called Virus. It’s a romantic comedy by an independent filmmaker. It’s his first feature-length movie and will likely be out late spring of next year. And, of course, I’m also working on the second Train to Busan movie as well.

Hidden Remote: That’s a film getting a lot of buzz in the media lately. Did you and the film crew know that you’d do a sequel soon after finishing the first film? Or was it a surprise?

Yang:  I kind of knew, the first movie was such a big hit. So, it was pretty obvious to a lot of us. We’re excited to see how the second part of the story is received by audiences.

Hidden Remote: Speaking of audiences, in regards to Parasite, what do you hope is the main take-away from people seeing this film? Was there an overall goal with how you and director Bong were hoping Parasite would stick with people?

Yang: I just want them to watch the film, experience the movie and enjoy it. As a filmmaker myself, I never go about telling people how they should feel or expect them to see things a certain way. It’s more about how the audience will choose to receive the story since everyone is at a different point in their lives. Watch the movie, have a fun experience, and maybe think about what it has to offer at the end.

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