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The halfway underground homes of 'Parasite' are real spaces of desperation and dreams

Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Shin, the poet, moved into one with her then 5-year-old daughter around 2007. It was the only unit the single mother could afford in the area after she was forced to leave her previous home.

"It's the last place you descend to when you're out of money," she said. "It felt like a grave."

The three-bedroom space got such minimal sunlight that she had to keep the lights on during the day. It felt as though she was developing a keener sense of hearing, she said -- footsteps, chatter, wind, rain. Not long after they moved in, their home was broken into, the burglar easily slipping in through the street-level window. She had prison-like bars installed.

Over the years of living there, though, she began drawing inspiration from the sense of otherworldliness the home seemed to engender. In 2017, she published a book of poetry titled "Banjiha Alice" -- based how she felt as if she'd been dropped into a strange world upon moving in, like Lewis Carroll's protagonist.

My remaining days keep dwindling

But we're all just briefly pitching a tent


I may be fretting like a dayflower trembling in the wind

But if I savor in the sadness

Maybe something amusing will happen

Maybe a white rabbit will run past


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