Newly minted four-time Oscar winner Bong Joon Ho is being hailed in his native South Korea and elsewhere today for Parasite’s history-making achievement in becoming the first foreign-language film to win the Best Picture Academy Award. From social media salutes to an official message from President Moon Jae-in, the Bonghive is abuzz.
Moon congratulated Parasite and Bong for “instilling pride and courage in our people as we come together to weather difficulties.” He was likely referring to the coronavirus epidemic that has engulfed Asia and will see the Korean government airlift about 150 nationals and their family members from Wuhan, China, tomorrow.
Added Moon, “An amusing yet sad movie, Parasite also conveys social messages in a novel, outstanding and successful way. It reminds us of how touching and powerful a movie can be. The government will stand with those in the film industry so that they can stretch their imagination to the fullest and make movies free from worries.” (See below for the full message.)
Moon also congratulated Bong after his historic Palme d’Or win in Cannes last May. Bong and Parasite star Song Kang Ho received a heroes’ welcome at Seoul’s Incheon Airport that month and Moon called the movie “a meaningful gift.”
Meanwhile, the box office gifts keep on coming with a new record bow for a foreign-language release in the UK this weekend and a running cume through Sunday of $175.3M globally, per comScore. Neon is handling the U.S. where the total is now $35.5M. In Korea, Parasite has made over $72M.
Parasite on Sunday night also won Oscars for Best Director, Best International Feature and Best Original Screenplay. The quartet of statues made it the winningest picture of the evening and zoomed South Korea from zero Oscars ever to an armful in the space of a few hours.
The win should hopefully help shine a further spotlight on the richness of Korean and world cinema. Bong has certainly done his part, stumping for breaking down barriers created by subtitles while on the campaign trail for what is his first fully Korean project since 2009’s Mother.
Korea as a whole is the world’s fourth biggest box office market outside North America with over $1.68B in receipts for 2019, up 9.8% in local currency over 2018. Two local titles, Extreme Job and Parasite, bookended a Top 5 for 2019 that had three Disney movies in the middle. The local industry, which celebrated its first century last year, is one of the most robust in the world and has very sophisticated audiences — something Parasite exec producer and CJ Vice-Chairwoman Miky Lee called out during the Best Picture acceptances on Sunday night.
The Oscars aired in Korea on Monday morning local time and by the end of the day CJ Entertainment shares were up 2.35% on the KOSDAQ. Shares in Parasite production company Barunson Entertainment soared on Monday, closing up 19.25% on the Korea Exchange.
Meanwhile, praise also rolled in from Bong’s compatriots. The Yonhap News Agency quoted Old Boy’s Park Chan-wook as saying, ”I am lucky to be able to work alongside such gifted people related with the film Parasite in the same time frame and in the same industry.”
South Korean Culture Minister Park Yang-woo is also quoted by Yonhap: “”I am sure the wins will widely open up a new 100-year period for our cinematic history as well as the globalization of hallyu.” The latter is the phenomenon of Korean cultural content increasing in popularity outside of the country.
Korean American actor/producer Daniel Dae Kim tweeted, “Guess the Oscars aren’t so ‘local’ anymore. Warmest, deepest congratulations to Parasite, the first film not in the English language to ever win Best Picture. Truly historic.”
And actor Seo-joon Park, who has a small role in Parasite, quickly racked up almost 2.5M likes on his Instagram posts after the win.
Here are some reactions: