More Parasite stuff! I wrote about how just a couple of phrases, "chicken place" and "king castella", Bong Joon-ho hinted at an entire backstory of the struggling Kim family:
With the 1997 Financial Crisis, this system of lifetime employment failed catastrophically. Even those who managed to keep their jobs could no longer expect a tenured employment, much less a pension. A common situation is for people in their 40s and 50s being pushed into a “voluntary” retirement with a lump sum severance pay. Suddenly without a job with a company that anchored their lives, these young retirees had to fend for their family by turning that severance pay into a steady cash flow.'Parasite' Has a Hidden Backstory of Middle-Class Failure and Chicken Joints [Foreign Policy]
Quick-serve restaurants, including fried chicken joints, offered an outlet for Koreans in such situation. They required a low amount of capital and little to no skill to start. Overhead could be kept low by enlisting the whole family as free labor. The low interest rate following the economic crisis made it easy to obtain a loan to add to the severance pay and form a seed money. The result is that as of late 2018, South Korea had 125 restaurants per 10,000 people, more than double the rate of Japan (59 per 10,000) and six times the rate of the United States (21 per 10,000). South Korea’s huge number of restaurants do not just reflect the fact that Koreans enjoy dining out; it also reflects the structure of the economy that pushes people into small, subsistence level businesses.
This article, as well as my op-ed on the nCoV epidemic in North Korea, were the top two most read articles on foreignpolicy.com on February 23.