Seoul City Promotes Residential Neighborhood As A

Since the massive success of director Bong Joon Ho‘s movie Parasite around the world, all things related to the movie have also been benefiting from the hype too.

Likewise, in celebration, Seoul City’s official Twitter account shared this post on their “visitseoul” tourism site:

The tweet and the website’s detailed post share the exact locations of where Bong Joon Ho shot some of the most iconic scenes from the movie…

This is a scene from “Parasite” featuring a “basement house” found in certain Korean neighborhoods. Though this particular house was a built set, similar houses can easily be spotted.

… including these stairs in a residential neighborhood where the Kims lived.

Photo posted on VISITSEOUL.NET

This is the set of stairs in Ki-taek’s village which appear in the scene where Ki-jeong buys peaches and carries them to the Park’s house. Located one minute away from Woori Supermarket (Doijissal Supermarket), the stairs may look like normal stairs, but they have also become a must-visit place for Parasite fans. Visitors are asked not to cause interruptions to the residents as it is a quiet residential area. Not far from the stairs, you can visit Ahyeon-dong Furniture Complex, Seosomun Park, Songijeong Sports Park,andmore. It would be a good idea to stop by these places while you are in the area.

— VISITSEOUL.NET

While the tweet was well-intended and the post included a warning to advise visitors “not to cause interruptions”, this promotion immediately sparked a heated debate among Korean netizens.

Picture of the neighborhood

Many found it inappropriate:

  • “I’m sorry, but if I lived in that neighborhood, I’d be fucking offended.”
  • “What did the residents in that area do to deserve this?”
  • “What the hell, man. This is crossing the line. Why not consider the lives of people who live in that neighborhood?”
  • “Think about the things the tourists will say when they visit the neighborhood and it will make sense why so many people are against it.”
  • “Did the residents agree to this? That’s what I want to know.”
  • “See it this way: If you lived in a town that was portrayed to be super poverty-stricken in a movie and all these people came to ‘check it out’, would you be alright with it?”
  • “It doesn’t matter that the set and the neighborhood are two separate places. In the tourists’ minds, this is that place from the movie, period.”

One netizen by the Twitter handle @wintery_sea strongly argued that this “Parasite Tourism Promotion” is actually a classic case of “poverty porn”, damaging the lives of the residents who live in the neighborhood — and the tweet got retweeted over 16K times, hinting at how many netizens looked into this matter. Note that “poverty porn”, according to Wikipedia, is “a term of criticism applied to films which objectify people in poverty for the sake of entertaining a privileged audience.”

If you have any morals, you would know better than to do this. This is basically [Seoul] selling poverty porn.

— Twitter @wintery_sea

On the other hand, a plenty of netizens clapped back, stating that “It is common for movie shoot locations to become popular tourist spots for the viewers.” According to these netizens, to call this a case of poverty porn would be highly over-reacting and the more “inappropriate”.

  • “But it’s literally being introduced as the location from a movie… No one is saying anything about poverty. And sharing movie locations has been done countless times before. What makes this any different?”
  • “People go see movie shoot locations all the time. Don’t turn this into a big deal — especially poverty porn.”
  • “We don’t know how the residents will feel about this though. What if they welcome the tourists bringing in money? Wouldn’t they be more offended by everyone calling this a case of poverty porn?”
  • “Okay, so if the Kims’ house was actually a set… Then it’s not actually in this neighborhood, right? People would be going to see the stairs, right? So what the heck is the problem?”
  • “When a movie becomes a blockbuster, it is inevitable for its shoot locations to become some sort of a tourist attraction. Parasite is one of the biggest movies Korea has produced. This cannot be stopped, it is almost natural.”

Seoul City is yet to respond to the growing concern about its “Parasite Tour” content — but a Korean press Hankyoreh published this satirical cartoon, highlighting one of the main potential risks of the city promoting the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the real-life owners of Parasite‘s supermarket and pizzeria locations shared that they have already seen a hike in the number of visitors in the area who say they are touring the area after watching Parasite.

Read more about how the residents are feeling here:

Real-Life Owners of “Parasite” Filming Locations Express Their True Feelings Regarding the Film’s Success


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