South Korea’s ‘Parasite’ wins international feature Oscar

Bong Joon Ho

Bong Joon Ho accepts the award for best international feature film for “Parasite,” from South Korea, at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Parasite,“ director Bong Joon Ho’s dark comedy about wealth inequality, won the Oscar for best international feature at Sunday’s Academy Awards, becoming the first South Korean film to capture an Oscar.

It was the second win of the night for Bong, who earlier shared the best original screenplay award with his “Parasite” co-writer Han Jin Won. Later in the evening he won the best director Oscar and “Parasite” was honored for best film.

A jubilant Bong accepted the international feature award to a standing ovation, noting he had won in a category that until this year had been named best foreign film.

“I am so happy to be its first recipient under the new name,” he said in Korean, adding, “I applaud and support the new direction that this change symbolizes.”

He then joked in English, “Thank you. I’m ready to drink tonight until next morning.”

“Parasite,” a critical and commercial success, features a cast largely unknown in the West. It tells the story of how an unemployed family of four living in a slum basement apartment comically con their way into the lives of one of Seoul’s wealthiest families before things begin to unravel darkly.

A favorite with critics, “Parasite” won the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious Palme d’Or last year.

Later in the evening it won Oscars for best film and best director for Bong, a history-making sweep.

Other nominated films in the international feature category included Northern Macedonia’s “Honeyland,” which also made Academy Awards history as the first film to be nominated in both documentary and international feature categories.

It tells the poignant story of Hatidze Muratova, who supports herself by harvesting honey with ancient, sustainable methods while caring for her bedridden mother in a modest home without electricity.

Other nominees were “Les Miserables,” a modern-day French remake of the venerable 19th century Victor Hugo novel, and Poland’s “Corpus Christi.”

Bong said he came up with the premise for “Parasite” seven years ago, originally envisioning it as a play with the stage divided between the homes of the wealthy and the impoverished families.

He also drew on his time as college-student tutor in creating the film’s young protagonist who, after landing a similar job, tricks his student’s family into providing jobs for his mother, father and sister, something Bong never did.

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