Director Bong Joon-ho may have called the Academy Awards a “very local” film festival, but on Sunday, he was part of their becoming ever so slightly more international. The Parasite director took to the stage to accept the Best Original Screenplay award with co-writer Han Jin-won, the first Oscar ever for a South Korean film.
Sharon Choi interpreted for the pair. “Thank you. Great honor, yeah,” said Bong, in English, before switching over to Korean to say that writing a screenplay was a lonely project, not one undertaken on behalf of one’s country. At the same time, he noted that his win marked “the very first Oscar [given] to South Korea,” acknowledging the momentousness of the occasion for South Korean films. He then thanked his wife and the cast of Parasite for bringing his words to life on the screen.
Han also thanked the South Korean film industry, synecdochically referred to as “Chungmuro,” the name of a neighborhood in Seoul. He said he wanted to share his honor with the storytellers and filmmakers of his native film industry. 2020 was the first year any Korean film was even nominated for an Oscar, with multiple nominations for Parasite and one for the documentary short In the Absence, which lost to Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if You’re a Girl).