A Rather Ordinary Observation from ‘The Host’

With a Vietnamese background, I was exposed to Asian films before getting to see the productions from Hollywood. For me, Asians films and series are something that I culturally relate to and ones from Westerns present me a culture that I haven’t experienced, both of them have always been equally intriguing.

This is not the first time I’ve seen a Bong Joon-ho’s production, and though it might not be the best one from him, I still enjoyed it. ‘The Host’ is still a special piece, not because it doesn’t have has a twisted, brain hacking plot like ‘Memories of Murder‘, or directly discusses prominent issues like animal cruelty in ‘Okja‘, class discrimination in ‘Parasite‘, but because the movie has shined the light on the Asian family-oriented culture.

I came across this tweet about how South Korean film characters expressing ‘extended emotion’ in the movie as people were screaming, and they talked so loudly and all expressions seem to be overly dramatic. This observation intrigues me because I’m told pretty much the same thing from my foreign friends when they hear or see me with my family, I’m louder and I’m definitely more dramatic than normal. Having never actually questioned such behavioural patterns, the tweet triggered me to dwell into every detail in ‘The Host’ that reflect those behaviours and I was left feeling more nostalgic than ever.

Gang-du’s family is rather exceptional, as the firstborn, he is a bit mentally challenged and is a single father, taken care of by his own father, his brother is drunk most of the time, and his sister is a gifted athlete. However, they are surely not dysfunctional, especially when it comes to protecting their family. Each individual has the same motive and tried their best to perfect the puzzle pieces in the making of a whole picture, and it was all thanks to the love they have for each other, for their F A M I L Y. Although the process was messy, definitely loud, and there are deemed to have some sacrifices, in the end, the picture was completed, with a spark of hope for a new beginning, such a classic Joon-ho’s ending.

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The Father’s Act 

All families are problematic and to make it even more complicated, we Asians tend to turn an individual’s issue into a whole family one (though it’s fair enough when your daughter is captured by a river monster). Living in a world where individualism is strongly embedded you might find this ridiculous, and admittedly it can be a nuisance at times, but it can also bring out the best in people for the greater cause, which, in this case, is to rescue their beloved granddaughter/daughter/sister. The love is visible in the most ordinary, comedic details like giving your own daughter a beer or imagining giving her your own food because she was dearly missed by every family member.

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Despite the obvious dramatized and fictional elements, ‘The Host’ was surprisingly, pleasantly ordinary and extremely Asian!

One comment

  1. Hey Mokxii, that was a really interesting read thanks! I came from the opposite end than you as this was the first film from Bong Joon-Ho I’d seen, and quite possibly the first Korean film too. I hadn’t considered the emotional portrayal of both the characters and events as you mentioned, so that was certainly interesting to consider for me as being a representation of culture rather than just an acting choice or dramatisation of fictional events.

    Liked by 1 person

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