South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s history-making haul of four Oscars, including for Best Picture, was the highlight of the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday. The Korean-language Parasite won Best Picture (the first non-English production to do so), as well as Oscars for Directing, Original Screenplay and International Feature.
Parasite crushed the hopes of Sam Mendes’s 1917 and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman went home empty-handed, but Bong made sure to acknowledge Scorsese’s enduring influence on filmmakers around the world.
In his acceptance speech after winning the Oscar for Directing, Bong, speaking through a translator, quoted an observation by Scorsese: “When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart, which is, the most personal is the most creative.”
Bong also acknowledged Tarantino for publicising his previous films (Tarantino had called Bong’s 2006 creature feature The Host one of the best films he had watched in his career) and also praised the other nominees, which included Todd Phillips for Joker: “If the Academy allows, I would like to get a Texas chainsaw, split the Oscar trophy into five and share it with all of you.”
Bong’s warmth drew praise on Twitter, where the hashtag #BongHive kept track of the director’s achievements.
Steven Yuen, the South Korean star of such films as the Oscar-nominated Burning (2018) and Bong’s Okja (2015), was among the Asian and Asian-origin talent that saluted Bong’s staggering achievement.
Bong’s Asian heritage, which led to racist comments on Twitter, was countered by observers of the global spread of South Korean culture and supporters of the idea of diversity at the Academy Awards.