The Man Behind The BongHive Buzz: Get To Know "Parasite" Director Bong Joon-ho!
He'll go down in history as a cinematic icon, a humble hero of the arts, and the low-key charmer who said he was ready to drink till the next morning after a legendary sweep at the 2020 Oscars
In the early nineties, there was Bong Joon-ho, a film student enrolled at the Korean Academy of Film Arts.
Inventive, imaginative, and charming in his work, the young creative looked up to cinema greats, with his highest esteem reserved for the great Martin Scorsese. He studied the American-Italian's films that he watched with reverence.
Close to 30 years after completing film school, Joon-ho would stand on the 92nd Academy Awards stage, holding his third Oscar for the evening. It was for Best Director for his landmark film, Parasite—he won over Philips, Mendes, Waititi, Tarantino, and as his fate would have it, Scorsese, too.
A standing ovation followed, with Scorsese himself getting on his feet to applaud the protégé from across the globe he likely never realized he had.
By the end of the evening, the South Korean director and his landmark film bagged the Oscars for Best International Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture—it was a massive, historic, collective feat for Asian filmmakers and actors alike, one that gave rise to an Internet hashtag that's as silly-sounding as it is accurate and well-deserved: #BongHive.
The "hive" of course refers to the booming fandom behind and outpouring of support for the director whose cult icon status is being carved out for him at lightning speed.
Now if you're just as hungry as the buzzing hive to learn more about the four-time Academy Award winner, we've got everything you need and want to know right here.
His talent was always meant to be recognized on an international scale. Beginning with his graduation films, Joon-ho's movies already gained traction overseas, most notably in the Vancouver and Hong Kong international film festival circuits. (The films were "Memory Within the Frame" and "Incoherence," in case you were wondering).
People knew to take notice of this director when he was nominated for, and subsequently won, the coveted Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. But did you know that he was nominated for the same award three years earlier with his film, "Okja?" Clearly he was a deep well of talent waiting for the right time to earn its place.
Aside from sharing the spotlight with Martin Scorsese during his time on the Oscars stage, he also took the time to give a shout-out to fellow nominee Quentin Tarantino who he described was always supportive of his work. The two directors were only years apart in terms of beginning their careers in the industry.
Several of his previous films are some of South Korea's highest grossing box office hits. If you remember "Snowpiercer," "The Host," and "Memories of Murder," those are but three of the jewels in his crown (and if you don't, now is the time to watch them!).
Most Hollywood directors are known for certain elements, themes, and treatments that always influence their work and for this Oscar heavyweight, his go-to aspects are almost black comedy, sudden shifts in mood or atmosphere, and alluding to relevant social issues.
Before entering film school, Joon-ho majored in sociology as a university student. Coupled with his upbringing in a middle class family full of creatives and academics, this influenced him as a filmmaker later on, leading him to create films that often showcase a heavy dose of social commentary.
Joon-ho is an incredibly visual storyteller, so much so that he draws his own storyboards. In "Parasite," in particular, he made sure that the Park family's mansion would play a part; its many corners and visible-invisible spaces alluded to the underlying economic and social poverty often swept under the rug in Korean society, to give the impression that all is well, and only the clean and polished are allowed to see the light of day.
He wasn't always welcomed in the international movie scene, however. Even so, he persisted, and now he's here, a force of nature in himself. Harvey Weinstein, for instance, refused to grant "Snowpiercer" a nationwide US release because he and the director were at odds about many of the film's elements. As for "Okja," the French protested its inclusion at Cannes. Obviously, this director didn't let any of it deter him.
He's a family man. Aside from nursing a lucrative career in film, this director also nurtures family life with his wife, Jung Sun-young and son, Bong Hyo-min. For added cuteness, his wife was photographed shedding (lots of) tears throughout the Oscars ceremony!
"Parasite" fans will have lots to look forward to because Joon-ho is already working on a script with HBO's Adam McKay from "Succession." The limited series will be an expansion of the film, so best keep your eyes peeled for that.
As much as he loves films in general, one genre he seems to want to stay away from is the superhero, comic-y, action-filled blockbusters.
He writes from the heart; who he is in real life, is exactly what his characters feel like. His dark sense of humor in particular is what was most apparent in "Parasite;" it was meant to be funny, he explained, but the kind of funny that makes audiences question whether they should indeed be taking pleasure at the sight of gore and pain and discomfort. He's a sanguine kind of guy too; he's able to make light of heavy situations—a trait he developed from growing up in post-war era Korea and being alive to see an entire nation rebuild and reinvent itself.
As a bonus, here are some adorable/endearing/charming clips and snaps of the director that have been making their rounds on the Internet to add to that #BongHive buzz. Enjoy!
Interviewer - What is going on in your mind to come up with a movie like that? It's original, it's interesting and also crazy as hell— Anjaan⁷ ᴴᵒᵖᵉ♡ (@JinJaan1601) February 10, 2020
Bong Joon Ho - Because I'm a fucking weirdo
LEGEND I SWEAR🤣🤣#BongJoonHo #Parasite #Oscars2020pic.twitter.com/x5nbp1h9vu
Photos from @theacademy @vanityfair @gettyentertainment @parasitemovie @variety @hollywoodreporter @entertainmentweekly @neonrated