Back to IndieWire

‘Parasite’ Makes Academy Award History as First South Korean Film to Compete for Oscars

"Parasite" began its awards run by making history at Cannes, and now it will finish it by making history at the Academy Awards.




Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” is officially a history-making Academy Award nominee. The critical and commercial favorite earned six Oscar nominations this morning and has written itself into the Academy Awards history books as the first South Korean nominee for Best International Feature Film (formerly Best Foreign Language Movie). South Korea had failed to receive an Oscar nomination for 91 years, but that has all changed with “Parasite.” Additionally, the film is the first South Korean movie nominated for Best Picture and Bong Joon Ho is the first South Korean filmmaker nominated for Best Director. Additional Oscar nominations for “Parasite” include Best Director, Best Editing, Best Production Design, and Best Original Screenplay.

“Parasite” started its awards run as a history maker at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded the Palme d’Or. The prize made Bong Joon Ho the first South Korean filmmaker to win the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize. Bong reacted to the win by hoping awards success for “Parasite” would increase an interest in South Korean cinema around the world.

“In 2006 I went to see a retrospective on Kim Ki-young,” Bong told the press, citing a director whose films heavily influenced “Parasite.” “I went to the French cinema library to see that and was surprised to see French spectators really liked his films and that made a big impression on me. I got the Palme today in Cannes but I’m not the only Korean director who could receive that award. There’s a lot of Korean talent that could win the Palme. I would like to do more retrospectives around the world featuring great Korean directors. Maybe today this will help me move forward in this direction. It’s an opportunity for people to learn more about Korean cinema around the world.”

Neon released “Parasite” in the U.S. in the fall and it has gone on to gross over $23 million, making it one of the biggest foreign releases ever at the domestic box office. “Parasite” is Bong’s first $100 million grosser worldwide. The film’s current global tally stands at $130 million and counting. Expect U.S. grosses to continue to soar now that “Parasite” is a multiple Oscar nominee.

While it’s hard to believe, 2020 will be the first time South Korea competes for the Best International Film/Foreign Language Film Oscar in the Academy Awards’ 92-year history. Many Oscar pundits expected South Korea to land a nomination in 2019 with Lee Chang-dong’s “Burning,” the foreign film committee snubbed the beloved thriller. “Burning” and “Parasite” are the only two South Korean films to even make the Oscars shortlist. Bong was last submitted in 2009 for “Mother.” Recent submissions include Jang Hoon’s “A Taxi Driver” (2017), Kim Jee-woon’s “The Age of Shadows” (2016), and Lee Joon-ik’s “The Throne” (2015).

Also of note, the South Korean short documentary “In the Absence” landed a nomination, making it the first time the country will compete in that Oscars category as well.

The 92nd Academy Awards will take place Sunday, February 9.



Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Awards and tagged , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox