Bong Joon-ho makes history with Parasite (again) at the Oscars
Bong Joon-ho has been making history since the international premiere of Parasite at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. In a first-ever for a South Korean film, the festival awarded its highest prize, Palme d’Or, to Parasite. Shortly afterwards, the film opened in Korea to strong reviews and a very successful box office run.
Nimble writing and strong performances from the cast brought to life a world that was full of symbolism and hidden messages. Song Kang-ho lives with his family, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woo-shik, and Park So-dam in a rundown semi-basement apartment, struggling to survive. When Choi Woo-shik lands a cushy job tutoring the daughter of a wealthy power couple, Lee Seon-kyun and Jo Yeo-jung, everyone’s lives begin to entwine in surprising ways.
Choi Woo-shik, Lee Seon-kyun, Park Myung-hoon, Lee Jung-eun, Jo Yeo-jung, Park So-dam, Jang Hye-jin, Song Kang-ho
The film’s darkly comedic takes on social class, poverty, and power has resonated with audiences both within and outside of Korea; picking up awards left and right. Last night Bong Joon-ho made history once more at the 92nd Academy Awards. The film picked up four awards, including the much-coveted Best Picture nod. The only disappointment for me has been the lack of nominations and recognition for the cast. (I’m a fan of Lee Jung-eun’s performance in particular.)
It was a night of firsts: Parasite was the first Korean movie to be nominated for any Oscars, Bong Joon-ho was the first South Korean to win Best Director, and it was the first time in Academy history that a non-English film won Best Film.
This won’t be the last we hear of Parasite; Bong has inked a deal with the American TV channel HBO to develop a Parasite television series. I normally view American adaptations of Korean works with a skeptical eye, but Bong Joon-ho has said that his intent is to expand on the world within Parasite, rather than remake the film into a series for American audiences.
Song Kang-ho, Bong Joon-ho
At a post-Oscar press conference, Bong remarked, “The one inch barrier of subtitles is breaking down.” When asked by reporters what he would tell his 13 year-old self, he joked that he’d tell teen Joon-ho to go to bed early because watching too many movies is bad for your health. He also touched on his next project, a horror film set in the heart of Seoul that’s based on a real-life event that took place in London in 2016.
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