The crews of Parasite, a dark comedy that swept various movie awards around the world (from the Cannes Film Festival to the Academy Awards), had a press conference to wrap up their long journey.
Director Bong Joon Ho, writer Han Jin Won and the cast members Song Kang Ho, Lee Sun Kyun, Jo Yeo Jeong, Park So Dam, Lee Jung Eun, Jang Hye Jin and Park Myung Hoon attended the press conference held on Wednesday (Feb. 19, KST) at the Westin Chosun Hotel, Seoul. CEO of Barunson E&A (production company of Parasite) Kwak Shin Ae, production designer Lee Ha Jun and editor Yang Jin Mo joined Bong and others at the media event, but actor Choi Woo Shik was absent due to his schedule of shooting another film. The press conference was hosted by the famous MC and comedian Park Kyung Lim.
Parasite was the first Korean film to win the Palme d’Or at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival and hit the 10 million mark of viewers in 53 days after its release in Korea. It didn’t end its glorious journey, consecutively winning the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 77th Golden Globe Awards, the Best Original Screenplay and the Best Foreign Language Film ones at the 73rd BAFTA Awards, and the four awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best International Feature Film) at the 92nd Academy Awards. In short, Parasite broke a brand-new record in Korean and global film history.
Bong Joon Ho carried out a super tight schedule called as the Oscar campaign in North America last year. He had more than 600 interviews and over 100 times of conversations with audiences. Bong described these processes as a “guerrilla war”. “The budget set for Parasite was far lower than those of the major studios and Netflix. Instead, I worked with passion,” he said.
Song Kang Ho, who had the most schedules on the local ground, recalled those days. “I knew how great they [the people he met there] and others were, not me. My ego became smaller when it had been six months [since the start of the Oscar campaign]. I realized many things through great artists,” he said.
Bong’s interviews and acceptance speeches always made headlines on the local sites. His “local” remarks targeting the Oscars, which was mentioned in the interview with the U.S. news website Vulture last October, are especially well-known. “How could I provoke the people while I was campaigning [for the Oscars] for the first time?” Bong said when asked if it was a planned statement. “There was a talk about the nature of the film festivals. Others such as the Cannes Film Festival are the international film festivals, but the Oscars is more focused on the U.S. The conversation came out while comparing those festivals like that, and I guess young Americans posted it a lot on Twitter. I didn’t say that word with any strategy. It naturally came out during the conversation,” he explained.
Bong also accounted for the secret of the parasite‘s rise to the worldwide attention beyond Korea, even though the movie deals with a gap between the rich and the poor. “Parasite is a realistic story while The Host and Snowpiercer have a number of sci-fi elements. The artists fairly brought such subtle details to life, and I think that’s what the global audience has understood very well,” he attributed the success to the cast.
Han Jin Won, co-writer of Parasite, gave his opinion on the film. “There is no cruel villain or conflict between the good and the evil in our movie. Each of the 10 characters has a drama and each has its own reasons, too. The fact that we can have compassion on everyone can turn into a unique pleasure to feel when we follow the story,” he said.
Parasite will be adapted for a HBO series. “Adam McKay, director of The Big Short and Vice, will participate in the drama as a scriptwriter. I think he’ll dig out the story far deeper. He calls it as the limited series, preparing a dense piece like HBO’s Chernobyl,” Bong explained. “I and Adam McKay are at the beginning of the discussion on its construction. There was an article reporting that Mark Ruffalo and Tilda Swinton joined the cast of the drama, but the issue hasn’t been officially confirmed,” he added.
Meanwhile, Parasite: Black & White Version is released on Feb. 26 in Korea. On his second re-release of black-and-white version after Mother, Bong revealed an episode that happened to him at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR). “It’s because of the memories and curiosities on the classics,” he said. “It’s the same movie, but it has a subtle and different nuance. It’s hard to say in detail because you may have a preconceived idea [before watching the black-and-white version]. One viewer said it smelled more when he [she] watched it in black and white,” he added.
On the morning of the press conference, Bong received a letter written by the director Martin Scorsese. Scorsese left a loving message in the last sentence of the letter, saying ‘You did a great job and now I hope you rest for a while. But please take a short break and get ready for your next work.” Thanks to this honorable and joyful message, Bong promised to continue his own filmmaking as silently as usual.