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South Koreans Celebrate Parasite's Historical 'Best Picture' Win

Kwak Sin Ae and Bong Joon-ho win the Oscar for Best Picture for "Parasite" at the 92nd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 9, 2020.
Kwak Sin Ae and Bong Joon-ho win the Oscar for Best Picture for "Parasite" at the 92nd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 9, 2020.

South Koreans are celebrating "Parasite’s" big victory at the 92nd Academy Awards after director Bong Joon-ho took home one of the ceremony’s most prestigious accolades — the Oscar for Best Picture.

After winning three other Academy Awards - Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay - Bong took the stage in Hollywood to accept his fourth and final award - Best Picture on Feb. 9.

His acceptance speech, although short, included at least one good quip: “I thought I was done for the day and was ready to relax,” Bong said. “I will drink until the next morning.”

In Seoul, South Koreans took to Twitter and other social media to rave about the film’s historic wins. Parasite is the first-ever foreign language film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, and the first South Korean film to win anything at the Oscars at all. Bong’s name quickly started trending on Korean Twitter while theaters around Seoul hastily announced that they will begin screening "Parasite" once again, nearly nine months after it first premiered.

“Personally, as a Korean, I’m very proud that 'Parasite' won this award,” Woo Ye-jin, a 25-year-old university student working in a cafe, told VOA News. “The movie seems to have really caught the hearts of Koreans and foreigners abroad.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in tweeted his congratulations shortly after Bong’s speech, stating, “I am proud of director Bong Joon-ho, the actors and crew. I am especially grateful to them for instilling pride and courage in our people as we come together to weather difficulties.”

'Parasite's success

"Parasite" is a dark comedy about a poor South Korean family that forges qualifications to work for a much wealthier family, which hires them as tutors, housekeepers and personal drivers. At first glance, it seems like a typical film of the haves and have nots — but its award-winning cast and breathtaking cinematography ultimately combine to make a film with a powerful social message.

“'Parasite' tells a universal story in a way that has made it obviously very successful worldwide,” said Kim Hyung-hyun, a professor of visual studies at the University of California, Irvine. “The film touches on South Korea’s over-education syndrome, but also deals with things like climate change and economic inequality.”“

Yes, 'Parasite' is funny and the base of a lot of its social satire is comedy, but it’s also very biting. It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when you see the movie,” Kim added. “It makes us draw on our empathy and wonder, ‘how are we so complicit?’”

Even South Korean President Moon Jae-in recognized the film’s universal message, tweeting, “'Parasite' has moved the hearts of people around the world with a most uniquely Korean story … An amusing yet sad movie, Parasite also conveys social messages in a novel, outstanding and successful way. It reminds us of how touching and powerful a movie can be.”

For everyday citizens living in South Korea, "Parasite" deserved just as much praise.]

WATCH: Parasite wins big at the Oscars


“I was so impressed by Bong Joon-ho’s directing. Every single scene in the film was quite exciting, and audiences were forced to think deeply about the movie,” Lee Ji-hye, a 28-year-old job seeker, told VOA News. “I was just a casual movie-watcher, but now I feel like I became a film critic and analyst after watching this film.”

It’s unclear what’s next for Bong or the rest of the film’s cast, but "Parasite’s" success at the Oscars may usher in a new era of fame for South Korean cinema. In addition to winning four Academy Awards, "Parasite" has taken home roughly 180 awards so far, including the highest honor at the Cannes Film Festival — the Palme d’Or — and Best Original Screenplay at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

"I think people around the world will evaluate and treat Korean movies with more respect after seeing what a great reputation "Parasite" has,” said Kim Kyung-min, a 33-year-old office worker in Seoul. “I am proud of what [the director and cast] did, and I am looking forward to seeing more Korean directors succeed.”