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Park Chan-wook Praises ‘Squid Game,’ Says ‘Parasite’ Was ‘a Historical Event’

The "Decision to Leave" director credited both projects with opening doors for Korean filmmakers.

Park Chan-wook

Park Chan-wook


Park Chan-wook had a great week at Cannes, winning Best Director for his new procedural “Decision to Leave.” The “Oldboy” auteur also gave movie lovers a hint about some of his upcoming projects, which, if he gets his way, will include a western, a science fiction film, and a remake of Costa-Gavras’s “The Ax.”

The world’s most prestigious festival has always been receptive to the South Korean auteur’s work, but films from his home country have been increasingly well-represented at Cannes in recent years. Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” memorably won the Palme d’Or in 2019 before going on to a major Oscars sweep that culminated in a historic Best Picture win.

Though Park was making acclaimed films long before Bong’s “Parasite” breakthrough, the director is thrilled to see more Korean films receiving international acclaim. In an interview with Variety, he praised the impact that “Parasite” had on the film industry.

”‘Parasite’ was a decisive moment. It was a historical event,” Park said. “You could even categorize films Before ‘Parasite’ and After ‘Parasite.’ So, not only in the history of Korean cinema, but in the history of non-English films, I think that film has a very special position in history.”

While “Parasite” opened a major door for South Korean filmmakers, “Squid Game” tore it off the hinges. The blockbuster series from Hwang Dong-hyuk quickly became Netflix’s most-watched series of all time, prompting the streamer to significantly increase its investment in Korean content.

“And, of course, ‘Squid Game’ too,” he said. “Through these contents, through these films and in the TV series now, the directors with films in non-English language can get a lot closer to a wider audience all around the world.”

In addition to the specific boost that Korean filmmakers received from “Parasite” and “Squid Game,” foreign filmmakers are enjoying another opportunity to reach wider audiences: streaming. While Park has yet to make a project for a major streaming service, he praised them for the opportunities they have created.

“It’s definitely got its advantages and merits, especially for the directors who make contents in non-English language,” he said of streaming. “But that doesn’t mean that the director has to make original contents or original films for that platform. He or she can definitely bring their previous works [and] feature length films onto that streaming platform to reach out to wider audience.”

While he clearly has a soft spot for traditional theatrical releases, Park is willing to leverage any opportunity to tell his own stories. The differences between film, television, and streaming do not particularly concern him.

“Platforms don’t matter to me,” he said. “I will keep on discovering and telling the stories that are most suitable for each platform.”

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