Skip to main content

Korean film ‘Parasite’ wins Oscar Best Picture: Students and faculty weigh in on the importance of worldwide perspective

"Parasite" director Bong Joon-ho laughs during a press conference

Students and faculty shared they connect to the Oscar-winning film, “Parasite,” because of Director Bong Joon-ho’s universal storytelling abilities, and a Korean student said she has firsthand experience with the movie’s focus on class disparity in Korea.

Eunbi Cho, a senior from South Korea studying psychology, said the movie helped her consider how social inequality is a real issue that resonates deeply with her and her friends. “After watching the movie, I felt like there was no hope for me. The rich are going to stay at the top forever, and I am not going to get there.

“The cycle itself is not circulating. It’s stuck. You are going to be at the social status where you were born, and that’s going to be it.”

According to imdb.com, Director Joon-ho is known for making films that comment on society and its issues, gaining him mainstream recognition based on his movies like “Okja” and “The Host.”

Freshman Charlotte Kelsey, a self-claimed film fanatic from Arizona studying psychology, said she has been a fan of his work for some time. “His films are perplexing. Sometimes, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Is it dark, or is it funny? I think people miss out on masterpieces if they stick solely to movies coming from Hollywood.”

Dr. Mason Allred, assistant professor for the Faculty of Arts & Letters, studied film at the University of California, Berkeley. He said the storytelling techniques and choice of the topic allows “Parasite” to resonate with people from all over the world regardless of the language difference.

“It is nice to see other people from around the world represented, but also to see other visions from the world; how people experience the world, how people see things.”

Cho said it’s frustrating when people refuse to watch movies because they are not made in America. “People are going to open their hearts when they watch different movies. I read some reviews for [“Parasite”], and some of them didn’t even watch the movie because they didn’t want to read subtitles. Subtitles don’t ruin what you are watching.”

Director Joon-ho described subtitles as a minimal price to pay for excellent art, “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” during his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes.

Allred said, “I’m surprised that watching a movie with subtitles may still be an issue. It is an important intellectual process to look between the movie and the subtitles, or even better, learn some more languages. The more you promote movies like “Parasite,” I think the more that issue will culturally fade.”

In terms of the future of Hollywood and the Oscars, Kelsey said there is still a long way to go with representation.

“None of the actors in [“Parasite”] were nominated for their performances, and I think it could be really beneficial for young people to be represented in the film industry and seeing great actors being recognized despite not fitting into the typical Hollywood look.”

Cho said she hopes the future of telling the stories of the underrepresented only continues to grow. “We are so happy to be recognized by the film itself. A lot of movies in Korea are great, but they have never been as recognized as “Parasite” ... I want to watch something that can portray the world and have an effect on people’s minds and create richer entertainment.”