A victory for Korean cinema“Parasite,” directed by Bong Joon-ho, became the first Korean film to win the Palme d’Or at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival. Korean cinema gained recognition at Cannes after Im Kwon-taek became the first Korean invited to compete in the main Official Selection with his film “Chunhyang” in 2000.
Cannes’ Palme d’Or is a special present to Korean cinema, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Bong also thanked the jury for giving Korean cinema a “great gift” and wished that the win will turn international attention to Korean filmmakers.
Bong helped to bring about a renaissance of Korean cinema in the 2000s. His streak of successful films — from 2003’s “Memories of Murder” to 2006’s blockbuster hit “The Host” — have satirical, yet playful insights that earned appreciation from critics and audiences.
His black humor also had international appeal. He debuted in Hollywood with “Snowpiercer” in 2013 and teamed up with Netflix instead of a traditional film house for “Okja’ in 2016. He satirizes society with his themes but has also been quick to adjust to new technologies. Bong’s latest film revolves around a poor family and a wealthy one, a polarization that poses a problem for all societies. The Cannes jury said the decision for the Palme d’Or was “unanimous.”
Bong’s feat comes as BTS is being touted as the Korean Beatles, as the boy band has topped the music charts around the world with its record-breaking streak.
The band’s U.S. concert tour drew around 320,000 fans, and the tickets to its London concert next month at the 90,000-seat Wimbledon Stadium sold out in 90 minutes. More foreigners are also learning Korean because of K-pop.
Son Heung-min rose to a key player at Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and Ryu Hyun-jin has become Dodger’s most valuable pitcher. Their fearlessness against the traditional Western bias against Asians has won the hearts of fans around the globe.
Korea’s soft power has never been so strong. We cheer and thank the brave young Koreans who have made their countrymen proud with their efforts and talents.