Introducing the Korean actor and star of the Golden Globe winning phenomenon, Parasite.

Park So-Dam star of Parasite in winter issue drink


Park So-Dam star of Parasite in winter issue drink

Taken from the Winter issue of Wonderland. Order your copy of the issue now.

One of 2019’s most unusual Hollywood stories is that of Bong Joon-Ho’s electrifying ninth feature film, Parasite. Kicking off the year on the Croisette at the Cannes Film Festival, Parasite became Korea’s first film to win cinema’s most coveted prize – the Palme d’Or – in a totally unanimous vote by a jury including the likes of Elle Fanning, Yorgos Lanthimos and Kelly Reichardt. From there, the film has broken box office records across the globe, picked up dozens more awards at film festivals, and topped critics’ lists of 2019’s (and even the 10’s) best films. Now taking its aim at the Academy Awards next year, the film is looking likely to become the first ever Oscar-nominated Korean film, not only in the Best International Film category, but maybe even breaking out into numerous categories beyond.

One of the film’s most memorable characters is Kim Ki-jung, portrayed by 28-year-old Park So-dam. Beginning the film as an unsuspecting girl trying to find unprotected WiFi networks to leech off, we see her swiftly morph into the refined, wealthy “Jessica” — an art teacher from Chicago, coming to help harness the artistic talents of a wealthy family’s prodigal son. And from there, things begin to develop into something totally unexpected.

Having gained her credits acting in independent Korean films since 2013, Park’s meteoric rise from short films to what is now Korea’s biggest international hit (picking up awards for her acclaimed role in The Priests along the way) demonstrates she’s one of the country’s most exciting new performers to keep your eye on.

We chat to Park So-dam about the film’s anti-capitalist message, working with prolific directors, and exactly how her life has changed since taking over Cannes in May…

Park So-Dam star of Parasite in winter issue chainsaw
Park So-Dam star of Parasite in winter issue American flag

(RIGHT) Dress JAKE VERNON, shoes Y/Project

Park So-Dam star of Parasite in winter issue chainsaw
Park So-Dam star of Parasite in winter issue American flag
Dress JAKE VERNON, shoes Y/Project

Can you tell us what it was like working with a director as unique and genre-defying as Bong Joon-ho?
He’s a really cool guy! Parasite really embodies how humorous he is. He tends to literally act out the exact way he wants his actors to perform. He’s exactly the kind of director that every performer would love to work with once in their lifetime. Director Bong’s storyboard is very precise. When you watch the film, you can tell there’s no room for any improvising. As a director he is so precise, down to the last detail. However, that’s not to say that actors are constrained by it, because he still gives enough luxury and trust for the actors to play around and work to their abilities. Even though he follows his storyboard, there’s still enough room to play around. It’s the perfect balance.

How does it feel, specifically being in the United States to promote the film? Does the message about class and anti-capitalism translate from an Eastern perspective to a Western one easily?
I don’t think Bong made the film with a specific intention to point fingers at society. Reading the script, you feel like he is trying to capture today’s life as authentically as possible. Not only did the message of class and consumerism hit so well in Korea, but universally too. I feel that audiences in America are even more expressive than they were in Korea – I even see audiences crying. Some people come up to me after and give me a hug. I’m really grateful how the fans are receiving the film here; the message translates a lot more easily that we could have hoped.

Do you think the film’s humour was once of the biggest factors in driving its message?
Yes absolutely! I was there at Cannes and the New York Film Festival, watching with the audience, and hearing their laughs made it clear they were getting the message that we were trying to say. I really appreciate how Bong can weave humour so seamlessly into a plot that you wouldn’t usually assume would be humorous. It helps engage the audience and drive the message even harder.

What has this year been like for you after winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes?
Having the opportunity to play Ki-Jung in Parasite has been a dream. Every moment I’ve felt fortunate to be a part of this journey. And most importantly, I’ve just met so many great people along the way, not only Bong but the crew, other actors. I’m still processing the year in a lot of ways; I’m checking Instagram regularly to see how the world is receiving the film. In a lot of ways I feel this year has re-energised me. Even this shoot – two years ago I would never have thought I’d be here in Los Angeles holding a chainsaw in full Gucci.

The film is attracting so much attention in the West, how does it feel to be a part of a movement in Western cinema that’s finally more inclusive of diverse stories?
I think there’s still a long way for the film to go before I feel like we are contributing. I hope that as many people as possible get to see Parasite, and most importantly – dissect its message between themselves afterwards. After that point, we will see!

Park So-Dam star of Parasite in winter issue sofa

Dress GUCCI, shoes Y/Project, jewelry STYLIST’S OWN

Park So-Dam star of Parasite in winter issue sofa
Dress GUCCI, shoes Y/Project, jewelry STYLIST’S OWN
Photography and words
James J. Robinson
Juliann McCandless
Photography assistants
Sam Soh and Zoe Steiner
Fashion assistant
Emma Collins
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