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Making it in Hollywood

Jan 07,2020
Director Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” has made history for Korean movies. It was tapped as best foreign-language film at the 77th Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday. His winning of the award is a monumental achievement for the Korean film industry. Though “Parasite” did not win awards for best director or screenplay, it proved Korean films’ remarkable potential. The prize deserves our congratulations and compliments for what the Korean movie industry has accomplished over the last century.

The award carries great significance. First of all, the film showed Korean movies’ status in Hollywood following its winning of the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The Golden Globe Award ratcheted up the integrity of our movie industry. Korean films have continued attracting attention from Europe since the 2003 film “Oldboy” by director Park Chan-wook won the grand prix from the Judging Panel at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. But our films have been underappreciated in Hollywood. The Golden Globe Award for “Parasite” changed that.

“Parasite” also pointed the way for Korean films to expand further. Thanks to Bong’s masterful depiction of ever-deepening wealth polarization — a common denominator of global concerns — not only movie critics but also audiences were excited about his excellent portrayal of the conflict between the haves and the have-nots and his very human tragicomedy for our times. The movie’s escalation of uniquely Korean situations to a universal realm is a good example of the so-called “glocalization” strategy. It is not a coincidence that his film has won over 30 awards from a number of film festivals. “If you can get over an inch-high linguistic barrier, you can meet even more movies,” Bong told the crowd at the Golden Globes.

The movie was also a commercial success. As the director expressed in his acceptance speech — “We use only one language, which is film,” Bong said — “Parasite” has made marvelous profits globally. After selling over 10 million tickets in Korea, the film raked in $23.9 million as of Sunday in North America. That’s the eighth-largest profit among all foreign-language films. The movie was screened in 40 countries, including France, Australia and Brazil, and demonstrates the growing power of Korean culture.

This honor should not be the last. We hope movies emerge as a growth engine for the Korean Wave. CNN expects Korea’s pop culture to spread further. We hope the Golden Globes are just the start, and “Parasite” hits another milestone at the Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 9.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 7, Page 30