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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Feb. 11)

Movies 06:54 February 11, 2020

Historic day
'Parasite' overcame language, cultural barriers

South Korean movie "Parasite" directed by Bong Joon-ho became the first non-English language film to win the Best Picture Award in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards, Sunday (local time). Bong himself also won the Best Director Award and the Best Original Screenplay Award as a co-writer along with Han Jin-won. "Parasite" also won the Best International Feature Film Award.

Congratulations to Director Bong, all actors and actresses who starred in the film as well as all people who contributed to making it. This was a historic day for Korean movie fans as well.

What makes Koreans more proud is that "Parasite" was the first to win the Best Picture Award in Oscar history with an entirely Korean cast, which was brilliant, but wasn't recognized specifically in this year's ceremony. The Korean cast, including Song Kang-ho and Lee Sun-kyun, was awarded the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Performance by an Ensemble Cast in a motion picture.

In a commentary, the New York Times wrote the Korean film's historic victories were possible because voters "managed to embrace the future," citing "Hollywood's overreliance on white stories told by white filmmakers." Bong may have had this in mind when he said in a speech after winning the Best International Film Award, "I applaud and support the new direction that this change symbolizes." He also said, "We never write to represent our country, but this is very personal to South Korea."

But we believe there are more reasons "Parasite" has become a monument in film history. The film represents a winning mixture of director, cast and storytelling as well as increasing global recognition of Korean pop culture. There is already huge overseas demand for Korean commercial music and dramas.

"Parasite" is about a lower-income family who infiltrates a wealthy household. The class struggle is a universal subject that has been covered by numerous artists in numerous places, but it was illustrated humorously and satirically in the black comedy as the way director Bong sees this in Korean society. Bong said after winning the Golden Globes for best foreign-language film last month, "Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films."

The Korean movie industry has a strong infrastructure. Multiplex theaters are everywhere and there are skilled directors, actors, actresses and translators, who are crucial for global distribution. Korea also fortunately has many talented directors like Bong who have a very good sense for what works in international markets. The success of Bong's film shows that Korean movies have huge potential as long as they are strongly connected with foreign audiences despite the language and cultural barriers.
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