SEOUL (Reuters) – “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho said he was surprised and overjoyed when the film won six Oscar nominations on Monday, a historic first for South Korea’s film industry and a sign that language is no longer a barrier to global success.
“Parasite,” a dark comedy about the vast gap between the rich and poor in South Korea, snagged a coveted best picture nomination, best director for Bong, and best screenplay in addition to its best international feature nomination.
“Every time they announced the new nominations, it was so thrilling, because we didn’t really anticipate any of this,” Bong told Reuters Television in an interview in California.
Bong had previously discussed the challenges of international films breaking the “language barrier” around the world, but said the nominations suggest those barriers may now be falling.
“We can say that thanks to the internet, social media and these streaming services, the entire society is experiencing less of these language barriers and perhaps ‘Parasite’ benefited from that global trend,” he said.
In a video shared online by film distributor NEON, one of the show’s stars, Song Kang-ho, manages to not spill a cup of coffee as he and others in the room excitedly celebrate.
“The sign you’re a global superstar: You don’t spill your coffee when your film is nominated for Best Picture,” the company said.
Kwak Shin-ae, the CEO of the production company, Barunson E&A, said she was delighted by the first Oscar best picture nomination for a South Korean film but disappointed Song did not get a nod for an acting category despite the crucial role he played in the film.
“Being nominated for more than just the foreign language film category is meaningful because it means the film transcended language and nationally to communicate in the universal language of cinema,” she said.
South Koreans, many of whom have watched the movie more than once, were also proud to share the honor.
“I was so happy to hear that in the morning Parasite was nominated in many categories for the Academy Awards and I hope the film will make good results,” said Bae Young-sil, 62, who was with friends to watch another movie.
A high school student, Kang Jin-gu, 18, said: “It plainly reflected the dark side of our society,” referring to the movie’s portrayal of the social disparity that has pitted the rich and the poor in Asia’s fourth largest economy.
Reporting by Sangmi Cha; additional reporting by Minwoo Park and Yeongseo Choi; Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Sandra Maler & Shri Navaratnam