South Korean Cinephilia and the Oscars

Delayed Recognition

Parasite’s sweep at the 92nd Academy Awards is a long-overdue recognition of a film industry that has consistently been provocative and edgy, encouraging prodigious talent like the auteur Bong Joon-ho. 

Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite/Gisaengchung (2019) won four Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best International Feature Film, and Best Original Screenplay on the historic night of 9 February 2020. Its unexpected sweep at the 92nd Academy Awards was significant for not just being the first non-English language film to win the coveted Best Picture award, but, quite surprisingly, also the first South Korean film ever to have been nominated in any category in its century-old cinematic history.

As a teacher of contemporary Korean cinema at film departments in the United States (US) and India, I can attest to the fact that this recognition was long-overdue. An underrated, overlooked film industry had finally stepped out of the shadows of the more established and internationally celebrated cinemas of Japan, Mainland China, and Hong Kong. This perplexingly delayed recognition of a consistently dynamic industry could be traced to the post-1990s New Wave that encouraged the emergence of “commercial auteurism” of prodigiously talented film-makers such as Bong Joon-ho on to the international scene as it transformed an insular national film industry into a global cinematic powerhouse. 

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Updated On : 5th Apr, 2020


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