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The Peninsula

Oscar-winning Parasite Overcomes Domestic Partisanship

Published February 20, 2020
Author: Korea View
Category: South Korea, Culture

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.

What Happened

  • Parasite, a South Korean movie directed by Bong Jun Ho, won the Academy Award in the best picture category.
  • Bong was denied state funding during the Park Geun-hye administration due to his political outlook.
  • Political parties are trying to capitalize on the popularity of ‘Parasite’ for the upcoming legislative election in April.

Implications: Global validation appears to be silencing criticisms that the movie Parasite and its social messages would have otherwise elicited from some political circles in South Korea. Politicians from across the ideological spectrum are praising the movie’s Oscar win ahead of April legislative elections. In particular, conservative lawmakers are eagerly embracing Bong – a seachange in attitude given the previous conservative administration’s informal ban on public funding for the director. Some proposals from conservative politicians include erecting a statue of Bong, naming a street after him, and building a film museum dedicated to Bong.

Context: South Korean movies that place a spotlight on societal issues usually face scrutiny. For instance, liberal and progressive politicians criticized “Ode to My Father,” a movie about a man who lived through post-Korean War reconstruction era, for embellishing the politically-repressive developmental period. Meanwhile, conservative politicians criticized one of Bong’s earlier movies, “The Host,” for perpetuating anti-American sentiments.

Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Gordon Henning, Soojin Hwang, Hyungim Jang, and Ingyeong Park.

Picture from user Kinocine PARKJEAHWAN4wiki on Wikimedia Commons.

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