Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 February 2020

Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Abu Dhabi to celebrate ‘Parasite’ gong

'It is a significant milestone in the Korean film history and means a lot to many Koreans,' said Lee Jun-ho, the director of the Korean Cultural Centre

South Korean film director Bong Joon Ho won the award for Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language during the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards. AFP
South Korean film director Bong Joon Ho won the award for Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language during the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards. AFP

In the wake of Korean film Parasite’s Best Foreign Language Film win at this year’s Golden Globes, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea will hold the regional premiere in Abu Dhabi to celebrate the acclaimed film’s success. “It is the first time ever for a Korean film to win an award at the Golden Globes, so of course it is a significant milestone in the Korean film history and means a lot to many Koreans,” says Lee Jun-ho, cultural attache, Embassy of the Republic of Korea, and director of the Korean Cultural Centre.

“I look forward to another good result at the Oscars, too.”

Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-ho who previously helmed lauded films The Host, Snowpiercer and Okja, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May and won the top prize, the Palme D’Or – the first Korean film to receive that honour. The VIP screening in Abu Dhabi, to be held in partnership with Vox Cinemas and regional distributor Phars Film at The Galleria, Al Maryah Island on Thursday, will be presented by Korean ambassador to the UAE, Kwon Yongwoo, to celebrate the film’s UAE release on Thursday January 16.

While Japanese films are often well received at the UAE box office, including last year’s Dragon Ball Super: Broly and One Piece: Stampede, the nearby Korean film industry, with a rich and vibrant history of its own, has yet to find much of a foothold in the Emirates. “When Bong Joon-ho delivered his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, he said, ‘I think we use only one language: the cinema.’ Korean films may not be so popular in this region yet, however, I hope more and more people will watch and enjoy them in the coming days,” says Lee.

The Korean Embassy’s Korean Cultural Centre regularly arranges screenings of Korean films in the UAE to build a bridge between the two nations through the art of storytelling. This initiative included launching the Korean Film Festival in Abu Dhabi in July last year. “We consider films to be a great method of cultural exchange as much as performances or exhibitions. When it comes to understanding each other’s culture, history and social issues, film has a big impact. For this reason, we also encourage Korean residents here in the UAE to watch Emirati films to understand the culture of the city they are living in,” says Lee.

Parasite, a black comedy thriller that explores the divide between rich and poor, starring Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun and Cho Yeo-jeong, has made $23.9 million (Dh87.7m) in the US alone, and $129.8m worldwide, on a reported budget of about $11m.

“I was very surprised, but I thought it was inevitable. This film is about the rich and poor, and essentially about capitalism. The US is the heart of capitalism, so I thought it was natural to gain such an explosive response. While Parasite has political and social messages and themes, the reason that the story felt so familiar to the US audience is thanks to the incredible charm that these actors have,” Bong commented after his Golden Globe win.

Lee says this commitment to character and message is a hallmark of Korean film overall. “I think well-rounded characters and the way of showing their lives in Korean films are explicit and interesting. Korean films are as popular as Hollywood films in Korea. The great attention of local audiences towards our movies and strong passion of our filmmakers make it possible for the Korean industry to continuously produce high-quality films.”

If Parasite is able to achieve a nomination for Best International Feature Film (previously Best Foreign Language film) at this year’s Academy Awards, it will be the first Korean film to do so. 2018’s Burning, directed by Lee Chang-dong, was the first film in history to make the shortlist, an honour that Parasite has also received.

To date, the Republic of Korea has submitted 31 films for consideration, the first of which was submitted in 1962 for the 35th Academy Awards. Parasite marks the second film of Bong’s that Korea has submitted for consideration, following Mother in 2009, which failed to achieve a nomination.

Parasite is in cinemas across the UAE from Thursday, ­January 16

Updated: January 7, 2020 06:55 PM

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