oscars 2020

'Parasite' Won Big at the Oscars. Here's How South Korea's Film Industry is Celebrating

We spoke with directors, actors, and critics about what they think of the historic win.
Junhyup Kwon
Seoul, KR
February 11, 2020, 7:00am
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Bong Joon-ho, winner of the Original Screenplay, International Feature Film, Directing, and Best Picture award for Parasite, poses in the press room during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. Photo by Rachel Luna / Getty Images / AFP

There once was a young South Korean film student who dreamt of becoming a director one day. He carved a quote by Hollywood filmmaker Martin Scorsese deep into his heart: "the most personal is the most creative." About 30 years and seven full-lengths films later, the student recalled this line in Hollywood while accepting an Oscar for Best Director, one of the four awards he received that night at the 92nd Academy Awards.

Of course, anyone who's been following Twitter knows that this is Director Bong Joon-ho, whose social commentary-thriller Parasite became the first foreign language film to win Best Picture during yesterday's Oscars ceremony. It was also celebrated as the Best International Feature Film and for having the Best Original Screenplay. Parasite made history for South Korea, becoming the first film from the country to win an Oscar.

Film enthusiasts from around the world are celebrating the win, but how do Koreans feel about it? VICE spoke with directors, actors, and film critics about their excitement.

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A man walks past a screen showing a poster of Bong Joon-ho's film 'Parasite' at a cinema in Seoul on February 10, 2020. Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP

Jeong Ga-young

Director, Bitch On the Beach

I heard that Bong is the first director to win Best Picture and Best International Feature Film at the Oscars at the same time. I hope that one day, I will make a bigger impression by winning Best Director, Best Actress in a Leading Role, and Best Picture all together.

Baek Jae-ho

Director, Citizen Roh

Two things came into my mind: Korean films can win Oscars and will be able to win an Oscar in the future. I found it amazing that a Korean film director won the awards because it is what world-class film directors aim and devote their life to. I thought that Parasite's win at Cannes in May last year and other numerous international awards were already great achievements, but it has achieved more than that.

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I look ahead to Korean films' bright future. If it has never happened, people are not likely to have hope that they can do it but now, they have hope since we have a precedent. I also believe that there are other Asian directors and female directors who deserve to win the awards. The world changed. The Oscars are known to be white and English language-centric awards, but while the U.S. government has been dominated by conservative people, I think that changes start from culture. It was such a symbolic event.

Cho Eun-sung

Director, I Am a Cat

As someone in the film industry, I would like to sincerely congratulate Bong's win at the awards. I hope that we go beyond the celebration and take the people's attention and interest to the industry to continue to discuss the polarisation (between low budget and and big budget films funded by large companies) of the unfair South Korean film industry.

Kim San-ho

Actor, My Secret Partner

I believe that the amazing director and actors of Parasite have shown the world the potential of Korean cinema. They have created a stepping stone for people in the industry to go out into the world stage. I appreciate and respect those who participated in it.

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Best Picture Award winners for "Parasite" pose onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre on February 09, 2020 in Hollywood, California. Photo by Matt Petit / AMPAS / AFP

Kwon Ki-ha

Actor, Cancelled Faces

I think that Parasite's win is a great opportunity for other movies. Through this opportunity, I hope that more diverse themes, genres, and formats of movies can be made in the future.

Jeong Ji-ouk

Film Critic

Parasite's win at the Cannes Film Festival last year proved that the film is the best in terms of cinematic quality, and the new win at the Academy Awards proved that the film is the best in terms of commerciality and popularity as well. The Academy Awards reflected that they embrace international films and are not exclusive.

Content from Asia has been popular in the U.S. and Europe recently. Parasite showed the excellence of Asian culture. I look forward to the world turning its attention to Asian culture. For Asian creators, Parasite has established a bridgehead to the world.

Ha Jae-keun

Culture Critic

Korean films have been recognised in Europe, but not in the U.S. Now, with Parasite's win, Korean films have been changed. The Academy Awards, on the other hand, has become a real world-class film festival that accepts diversity. Since the U.S. is regarded as the headquarters of the world's pop culture and film industry, I believe the win will allow other Korean films to be more recognised.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.