During Da-song's birthday party, after a brief conversation1 with Da-hye, Ki-woo takes the scholar's rock with him and goes down to the basement. What was his motive?

It wasn't entirely clear from the movie.

From what I searched on the Internet, the most popular take on the motive seems to be "To kill Guen-sae and Moon-gwang." However, I'm unable to accept this because:

  1. He doesn't necessarily require the rock to do the job. After all, a big rock is not a good option when you're not strong enough to effectively wield it and your plan is to kill two strong adults. Couldn't he have used one of the knives in the kitchen instead?
    Also, if his primary motive was really to kill the couple without getting himself killed, he would have instead ran back when he dropped the rock while climbing down the stairs and come back better prepared with a knife from the kitchen. But, he decided to go on, regardless.
  2. Both, his demeanor when he noticed Moon-gwang's body on the floor and the tone of his voice when he says "Hey, are you okay?" twice, suggest that he was genuinely worried about the possibility that she was dead.

The alternative take is "He wanted to pass on the scholar's rock to the couple as a lucky charm." I'm unable to accept this as well because of one reason:

  1. Why was he sneaky?
    At the very least, when he dropped the rock, couldn't he have announced (with appropriate level of loudness) "Hey, I come in peace. I'm not here to kill you. I just wish to help you."?

I understand that certain things in the movie can be left for subjective interpretation (such as what the scholar's rock represents). However, I don't believe "The motive behind why Ki-woo went down to the basement with the scholar's rock" is one of those things.

Related questions on SE:

  1. What is the significant of the rock?: Both the asker and the answerer of this question believe that Ki-woo's motive was to kill the couple.

1 The following is the conversation they had before his departure. This describes the thought-process that was running on his mind before he went down to the basement.

Da-hye: You were thinking of something else.
Ki-woo: What?
Da-hye: While kissing me, you were thinking of something else.
Ki-woo: No.
Da-hye: What do you mean, no? You are doing it now.
Ki-woo: Wow... Everyone looks gorgeous, right? Even for a sudden gathering, they're so cool. And look so natural... Da-hye, do I fit in here?
Da-hye: What?
Ki-woo: In this setting, do I fit in?
Da-hye nods (weirdly)
Da-hye: Hey, where are you going?
Ki-woo: I'm going down.
Da-hye: Just stay with me.
Ki-woo: I need to go down there.
Da-hye: Why go to those boring people? Can't you stay here?
Ki-woo: Not to those people. Down lower.

  • 1
    I also have the same question, it doesn't look like he's going there to kill the man but perhaps talk / get into some sort of agreement?
    – Luciano
    Feb 12 '20 at 11:27

Here's my take on it.

Consider the chronology of the conversations/events about the stone in the end.

Before the conversation with Da-hye, Ki-Woo is having conversation with his father on the gym floor (where the flood-affected people were sleeping):

Ki-woo: I'm sorry.

Ki-taek: For what?

Ki-woo: Everything. All of it. I'll take care of everything.

Ki-taek: What are you talking about? Why are you hugging that stone?

Ki-woo: This? It keeps clinging to me.

Ki-taek: I think you need some sleep.

Ki-woo: I'm serious. It keeps following me.

Then the conversation with Da-hye follows where his face is clearly sad and confused when he asks her whether he fits in such rich environment. That's when he decides to go downstairs and take care of everything as told to father.

At this point there are 3 possibilities of why he went to basement:

  1. Kill the basement folks OR

  2. Pass on the stone to them OR

  3. Perhaps just go there and reach a truce but also carry the stone for safety (as it keeps clinging to him) in case things go wrong.

Given his body language and calm composure the killing option seemed unlikely. My best guess is option 3.

  • I also thought perhaps 2 or 3, but I can't find anything to confirm either.
    – Luciano
    Feb 13 '20 at 10:55
  • Well then. I guess it is left for subjective interpretation. Thank you for the answer.
    – Ajay Mohan
    Feb 13 '20 at 13:28
  • 1
    @Pale Blue Dot What's the use of passing the stone to them? Why would he do that? Did I miss something here ?
    – Spectra
    Mar 9 '20 at 19:00
  • I know links are frowned upon but I don't know if there's a better way to direct people to an English translation of a screenplay. deadline.com/2020/01/… In the screenplay, they explicitly say Ki-Woo wanted to use the rock to finish her off. It's more vague in the movie, and there are other places where this screenplay and movie diverge, but I think it's safe to say this was his intent. It doesn't make much sense, but he wasn't thinking straight. When I watched, I also thought he wanted to make peace in some metaphorical way.
    – BatWannaBe
    Mar 24 '20 at 0:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .