As Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) might put it, “This is so metaphorical.”
In a surprise victory, Bong Joon Ho won the Oscar for Best Director at Sunday’s 92nd Academy Awards for his work on Parasite, the South Korean sensation that’s swept the globe. Earlier in the evening, Parasite became the first Korean film to win an Oscar, claiming Best Original Screenplay and Best International Film, and for the second year in a row, Academy voters opted to bestow the Best Director prize on a non-English-language film. (Alfonso Cuarón won the award last year, for the Spanish-language Roma.)
“After winning Best International Film, I thought I was done for the day and was ready to relax,” Bong quipped through a translator. He continued, “When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is, ‘The most personal is the most creative.’
“That quote is from our great Martin Scorsese,” Bong added in English, bringing the audience in the Dolby Theatre to its feet. He went on to praise his other fellow nominees, Todd Phillips (Joker), Sam Mendes (1917), and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), noting of Tarantino, “When people in the U.S. were not familiar with my film, Quentin always put my films on his list. Quentin, thank you so much.
“If the Academy allows, I would like to get a Texas chainsaw, split the Oscar trophy into five and share it with all of you,” Bong said in closing.
Bong has long been an A-list director in his home country, but his films began to gain more attention stateside with the U.S. release of his first English-language film, Snowpiercer, in 2014. Parasite cemented his status as one of the most acclaimed filmmakers in the world, winning the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or (becoming the first Korean film to do so), and a slew of other awards, and breaking several box office records for a film not in English. The film tells the tale of a poor family who con their way into working for a wealthy family, delivering a blistering critique of capitalism and the 21st-century class system in Bong’s inimitable, genre-defying style.