January 31, 2020
After an indifferent sojourn in Hollywood, the film-maker went back to South Korea do his next film – and produced an undisputed masterpiece. Why is his stunning critique of the class system striking chords all over the world?
Parasite director Bong Joon-ho: Korea seems glamorous, but the young are in despair
The past year has been a whirlwind for Bong Joon-ho, and he is still in the midst of it. His movie Parasite has whisked him to places few directors – and certainly no South Korean director – have been before. It started with winning the top prize at the Cannes film festival last May, and the momentum has not let up: critical adulation, box office success, US talkshow appearances and a ridiculous 170 awards and counting.
And not just not just awards in the “foreign film” categories; Parasite is the first foreign-language film to win the Screen Actors Guild’s coveted ensemble performance award. It is also up for six Oscars, including best picture and best director. Before, it was only connoisseurs who appreciated Bong’s singular output – including Donald Glover, Edgar Wright, Guillermo del Toro and Quentin Tarantino. Now there’s a whole online “#BongHive” sharing memes, news and general love about the 50-year-old film-maker. He’s this season’s must-have selfie for Hollywood stars to brandish on Twitter. Even Bong’s ever-present translator, Sharon Choi, has become a minor celebrity.
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