Song Kang Ho is no stranger to working with director Bong Joon Ho. The actor has worked with Bong on four films, the latest being Parasite. Bong’s latest commentary on society and its inequalities are resonating universally as critics and audiences alike are citing this as a masterpiece.
Song Kang Ho explains that even though Bong’s themes resonate, his movies are still “so different from other genre films.” Having worked with Bong for over twenty years, Song says they have more than just an actor/director relationship; they’re friends.
Park So Dam who plays Song’s daughter affectionately calls him, “Papa” and explains that the cast is still very close, all of them. Park So Dam also talks about how she first heard about the role and her reaction to the script. Read our chat below:
Why do you think the film is striking such a chord with people?
Song Kang Ho: Bong is unique in his directing and his screenplay and because his movies are so different from other genre films and I think that’s why it’s appealing to Western audiences.
What’s it been like seeing the film be so well-received with audiences?
Song Kang Ho: I had expected the Western audience would respond to this, but the way in which they did respond really exceeded my initial expectations. I’m really thankful for that and have enjoyed seeing people react to Parasite in the way they have been doing.
You are Bong’s favorite leading man, you’ve been in four films with him, what did he tell you about Parasite?
Song Kang Ho: When we first started together, it was over 20 years ago. I was a novice actor in his second film. Back then, we were both new to the craft as a director and actor. After twenty years, it’s much more than that. We’re now friends.
When I read the script for Parasite, the first thing I thought was how unique it was. Secondly, I could really feel the passion in his words.
Bong storyboards his work. How does that help you as an actor?
Song Kang Ho: It really makes your life easier, both for the cast and crew.
How did you get involved with Parasite and what was your reaction to the script?
Park So Dam: I was first approached through the costume designer Choi Se Yeon who sent me a text saying Bong wanted me to have a part in his upcoming film Parasite. Even back then, it was hard to believe that he would want me.
The only thing I knew was that Song Kang Ho was going to play my papa and after that, it was more about waiting for Bong to finish writing the script.
When I first read it, I was shocked at the velocity of it all and just by how the movie read on the page. It was all so fast-paced. Every line, Bong wrote for my character came so naturally for me, but I couldn’t wait to talk to the others about how they felt about the script.
I love your relationship together. Did you get much time beforehand or was that chemistry something that evolved on set?
Song Kang Ho: As you can see, there are so many ensemble scenes in the film and so we spent a lot of time together and that helped.
Park So Dam: It was such a pleasure to meet someone as amazing as Song Kang Ho. To have him as a father and to be able to call him, “papa” was such an amazing experience. I still call him “papa.” He’s someone I’m going to hang on to for life because I want to learn so much from him and take from him.
The whole cast felt like family to me and we still hang out.
There’s a great scene towards the end of the film as you’re back in the apartment with it being flooded.
Song Kang Ho: That was shot on a set, and so it was possible to flood the basement because it wasn’t a real apartment. [laughs].
That scene was emotionally hard to film because I was watching everything being destroyed right in front of my eyes.