South Korean film director Bong Joon-ho’s new movie “Parasite” has won the Palme d'Or at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival to become the first South Korean movie to win the top honor at one of the world’s most celebrated film festival. The honor came 19 years after a South Korean film competed in Cannes for the first time in 2000. Bong grabbed the top honor by defeating renowned directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodovar and the Dardenne brothers. Jury President Alejandro González Iñárritu said the Palme d'Or decision was unanimous, calling the film “a unique experience.”
Bong set a milestone in his film career by winning the top prize at his second shot at the Cannes competition following his 2017 movie “Okja.” Since his debut in 2000 with “Barking Dogs Never Bite,” the director has grabbed attention by eloquently blending his critical view of society, artistic value and popular appeal. Having reinterpreted diverse genres in his own unique visual language, Bong is acclaimed to have become a genre himself and is now considered one of the greatest film directors in the world.
“Parasite” is about an unexpected incident taking place as the oldest son of Ki-taek’s family, all unemployed, becomes a tutor for a student from a wealthy family. Freely transcending the barriers among different genres such as black comedy, thriller and horror, the film has been critically acclaimed by handling the universal issues of social classes and the gap between rich and poor while treating the reality of South Korea. It is a case that invokes the confidence that movies dealing with contemporary Korean issues can be internationally accepted by going over the cultural differences and national borders.
His winning the prize has set up a monument that compressively symbolizes the 100-year growth trajectory of South Korean cinema, just as Bong told a news conference that he considered the award a “great gift” to mark the 100 years of Korean movie history this year. Nevertheless, it is too early to be complacent. South Korea should remember numerous issues to deal with such as the insufficient diversity that hampers the growth of Korean film industry and screen monopoly. Winning global recognition of Korean cultural content is a short cut to enhancing the nation’s status in the world. We expect that the Korean Wave will make a leap to a new dimension through the Cannes award and boyband BTS’s stellar performances.