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Writing a new page in history

Feb 12,2020
Korean films have never shined as brightly as they did on Oscar night on Sunday. Director Bong Joon-ho not only rewrote history for the century-old Korean cinema, but also for film at a global scale. His groundbreaking movie “Parasite” stole the night at the 92th Academy Awards by winning four major trophies — best picture, best director, best international feature and best screenplay. It became the first non-English movie to take home the prestigious best picture trophy.

The Oscars have been unreachable until now. Korean films gained artistic recognition at Cannes, but Hollywood remained closed off to recognizing Korean productions. No Korean films were even nominated until Parasite. The tragicomedy touched on a universal conundrum — wealth inequality — with humor. The movie grabbed more than 100 trophies from over 50 international awards starting with Korea’s first-ever Palme d’Or at Cannes in May last year.

The Academy also finally broke out of its American-centered white box and engaged more openly with a broader world. The AP called Parasite’s stunning victory at the Oscars “a win for the world.”

K-pop power led by superstar BTS and “Parasite” has reached a boiling point. Fans from around the world sing along to BTS lyrics in Korean and a Korean film is the talk of Hollywood. Korea is no longer a second thought on the global entertainment stage. The West is reaching out to Korean entertainment companies and artists to borrow their creativity. Korean film has expanded staggeringly in quality and quantity over the last century.

In an interview after his Oscar win, Bong said that his film may have appealed to the global audience because it brimmed with “Korean-ness.” His name is already familiar in Hollywood through his English-language films “Snowpierce” and “Okja.” But his outstanding achievement with “Parasite” came from Korean resources — from fundraising to staffing to the movie’s theme. His feat will be a new turning point for the Korean film and entertainment industry. He made an impact with his remarks at the Golden Globe after winning the best foreign language film award. “We use only one language: the cinema,” he said.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 11, Page 30