A Korean twist
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A Korean twist

Parasyte: The Grey on Netflix presents Hitoshi Iwaaki's manga through a fresh lens

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
A Korean twist
Jeon So-nee as Jeong Su-in in Parasyte: The Grey. Netflix Thailand

For over three decades, Hitoshi Iwaaki's Japanese manga Parasyte has captivated audiences with its blend of science fiction, horror and societal commentary. Now, a new chapter unfolds as South Korea brings this iconic tale to life in Parasyte: The Grey. Streaming on Netflix, this six-episode miniseries, directed by Yeon Sang-ho of Hellbound and Train To Busan, offers a fresh perspective on the story and explores themes of survival, identity and humanity.

Parasyte: The Grey imagines a world where parasite-type beings fall from the sky and infect humans to feed on their brains and take over the body. The story follows a young woman who forms a symbiotic relationship with an alien parasite, leading to a morally complex journey as they confront other parasites threatening humanity. This adaptation adds a unique twist, focusing on the grey areas of survival, identity and the essence of being human.

Yeon Sang-ho describes Parasyte: The Grey as an expanded story set in Korea that explores the consequences of alien parasites descending upon humanity. "The series is an expanded story of what would happen if parasites appeared in Korea," he said.

Despite the shift in setting, Parasyte: The Grey retains the depth of the original. "The manga is intriguing, intense and has a unique universe," Yeon said. However, he added it was also an honour to expand this universe.

In crafting the series, Yeon aimed to preserve the core message. "As I was creating Parasyte: The Grey, I contemplated how to include the original message. To me, Parasyte is about coexistence, so I wanted Parasyte: The Grey to be about coexistence as well."

Director Yeon Sang-ho. Netflix Thailand

In Parasyte: The Grey, the main protagonist Shinichi and his alien buddy Migi do not feature and have been replaced by Jeon So-nee, playing the lead character Jeong Su-in who becomes host to the alien parasite Heidi. Jeong coexists with Heidi following a failed attempt to take over her brain and body, just like the manga, which allows her to have a separate personality and intellect.

"There's no special meaning behind the main character being female," Yeon said. Jeong's symbiotic relationship with parasite Heidi sees her navigate the complexities of acceptance, understanding, and personal growth.

Family dynamics play a significant role in shaping each character's identity as Yeon explains: "Jeong's dysfunctional relationship with her family causes her to keep to herself." This trauma and resilience drives the character's motivations and interactions and is what makes the series so relatable.

The title Parasyte: The Grey has multiple meanings and reflects an exploration of moral ambiguity and societal complexity. "The title means both the anti-parasite taskforce 'The Grey' and 'grey' as in what is in between," Yeon added. This dual interpretation captures the theme of navigating murky waters, between right and wrong, human and parasite, and individual and community.

The visual effects in Parasyte: The Grey are a testament to modern filmmaking. Yeon acknowledges the challenges of bringing parasites to life. "The VFX work was quite a lot." However, thanks to the collaborative efforts and hard work of everyone, the show is able to present intricate creature designs and the CGI elevates the viewing experience.

Jeon So-nee as Jeong Su-in in Parasyte: The Grey. Netflix Thailand

Creating a seamless experience requires collaboration across multiple departments, from cinematography to visual effects. "Many teams prepared test shoots in advance, which allowed us to anticipate the result of post-production," Yeon said. This meticulous planning and coordination ensured that every aspect of the series, from action choreography to CGI integration, aligned to deliver a cohesive narrative experience.

Despite the challenges of production, Yeon fondly recalls: "All actors were delightful and know each other well, so it felt like a family gathering for a holiday." This camaraderie and shared purpose permeated every aspect of the production. "I talked about old movies with Kwon Hae-hyo, Lee Jung-hyun and Kim In-kwon, who have been in the industry for a while, and Koo Kyo-hwan also knows a lot about old movies. We had a great time taking trips down memory lane. Jeon So-nee is a great listener, so there was always laughter on set," he said.

As audiences embark on the journey of Parasyte: The Grey, Yeon encourages them to expect suspense, unexpected twists and thought-provoking themes. Parasyte: The Grey promises to captivate viewers with its narrative, visuals and exploration of what it means to coexist in a world filled with uncertainty and complexity.

"The Grey is an interesting series with continuous twists in the story. Even people who don't typically watch the horror thriller genre can enjoy it. I hope you enjoy it from the start," the director concluded.

Lee Jung-hyun as Choi Jun-kyung in Parasyte: The Grey. Netflix Thailand

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