South Korea, a nation of movie-goers has its film industry ranked fifth biggest in the world, in terms of box office sales. Director Bong Joon-ho’s talent was also well acknowledged. Memories of Murder, The Host, the Science Fiction thriller Snowpiercer and Okja – about a genetically modified giant pig – all won him critical acclaim.
“Bong Joon Ho’s storytelling is wildly innovative, unpredictable and extremely entertaining,” explains Prof Bechervaise, who studied Bong’s work for 15 years.
“He can take his audience in directions a few other filmmakers are not able to do in a movie, let alone a single scene, from moments of humor to horror in an instant without jarring it.”
But it is Parasite which gave Bong his big global breakthrough – and for so many reasons.
The film is about class warfare. It is about rich and poor – a universal theme that has made it possible for this South Korean story to resonate with audiences around the world.
This vision is brought to life by experienced South Korean cast who take us through plot twists which keep us guessing right until the very end.
“They orchestrated a very clever and effective release strategy, releasing it on a small number of screens in October before expanding it as strong word-of-mouth pulled more people in.
“As it added to its accolades, its box office success grew even further.”
There is another Korean figure behind Parasite’s success – co-producer Miky Lee who got the last word at the Oscars (after audience protested when lights went down).
She is said to be a true film fanatic and has backed several of Bong’s films. Her influence will have been considerable. It seems ironic that this social satire about class warfare, came about with the help of one of South Korea’s richest companies, but all of these factors combined appear to have created a surprise hit.
The audience has forgotten any fear they may have had of the “one-inch barrier of subtitles” (as Bong himself put it at the Golden Globes).
But can others emulate his success?
“Parasite has moved the hearts of people around the world with a unique Korean story,” he said. “It reminds us of how touching and powerful a movie can be.”
But building on this success won’t be easy, says film critic Ha Sung-tea.
“To create the next Bong Joon-ho, will be a long term project for the Korean film industry. Director Bong Joon-ho is unique. During his acceptance speech for Best Screenplay, Bong told the audience, “We never write to represent our countries”.
However, in the next breath, he said, “But this is a very first Oscar to South Korea.”
This feels personal for this country. The Oscars is an affirmation that South Korea is a cultural powerhouse – and it now has a place in the history books.
If audiences didn’t know the considerable cultural talent within this country before, they do now.
Parasite a 2019 November release from South Korea, brings the story of the Kim family. As the movie opens, we get to know the family, they live in a semi-basement apartment, and mom and dad are out of work, while their teenage son and daughter aren’t in much better shape. Then one day, the son’s friend Min, informs him, that he is leaving the country and that it would be great if the son took over for him as the private English tutor of a High School sophomore girl, whose family is well-off, if not rich. The son agrees, and before we know it, he is now the English tutor… At this point, we are 10 minutes into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you’ll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.