After establishing its popularity across the globe with K-pop and K-drama, the Korean wave has now added another feather to its cap – K-film. Bong Joon Ho’s film ‘Parasite,’ a genre-warping mix of drama, horror and dark comedy, became the first film in a foreign language to win the prestigious Best Picture award at the Oscars and made the world take notice of Korean films.
The movie also got the Oscar for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best International Feature.
The Oscar win is an affirmation that South Korea is a cultural powerhouse, and the world now knows the considerable cultural talent within this country.
Right after the win, ‘Director Bong Joon Ho’ topped the list of trending searches on popular search engines Daum and Naver. South Koreans globally have celebrated the victory that ushers the high-quality film experience for fans. ‘Parasite’ is also being heralded as changing the landscape for international cinema and opening up space for creative works from other countries. For South Korea, a nation of movie-goers with the fifth biggest film industry in the world, this opens doors to budding directors, actors, writers to showcase their talent.
South Korea’s growing soft power in the West
‘Parasite’ might be the latest South Korean film to achieve a historic win, but Korean films have been winning accolades earlier too. The zombie apocalypse film ‘Train to Busan’ debuted at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 2016 while The Handmaiden won a BAFTA in 2018.
Like Parasite, these films also broke into international markets and gained praise for their content. These films represent the accumulated efforts of the Korean filmmakers who are raising the bar higher and higher. Recognizing the growing demand and popularity, the Korean Film Council has allocated $85 million for film development, a 32% increase from last year.
Bong Joon-ho’s creative mastery
Director Bong Joon-ho’s talent has been well acknowledged earlier. Memories of Murder, The Host, Snowpiercer and Okja – all movies won him critical acclaim. He is known for his wildly innovative, unpredictable and entertaining storytelling. Parasite has finally given Bong his much-deserved big global breakthrough. The film’s distributor, Neon, also used a very clever and effective release strategy, thus helping in the film’s success.
— Parasite (@ParasiteMovie) February 12, 2020
Making waves in multiple ways
The growing influence of South Korea goes beyond just movies. South Korean music, makeup, and fashion have made their presence felt abroad in the past decade.
Korean pop, or K-pop, has swept the American music scene with groups such as BTS breaking YouTube records and performing on mainstream platforms. BTS, considered the biggest boy band in the world currently, won a Billboard Music Award in 2017, beating American favorites such as Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, and Shawn Mendes. South Korea’s beauty and makeup industry have won consumers across the West, and South Korean beauty products are regularly featured in top English fashion magazines like Vogue and Elle.