South Korean film director Bong Joon-ho touched down to a hero’s welcome at Seoul’s Incheon Airport on Monday afternoon, after winning the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday with his black drama “Parasite’. He also received the news that the film is off to a flying start at the Korean box office.
According to ticket pre-sales data from the Kobis box office service of the Korean Film Council, “Parasite” should open as the top film next weekend. That puts it ahead of currently in theaters “Aladdin” and Wednesday release “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” KOBIS shows over 207,000 tickets sold ahead of the film’s Thursday release through CJ Entertainment.
The unanimous jury decision was the first Palme d’Or at Cannes for a Korean film and rectified a surprising omission, considering how many Korean films over the past 25 years have enjoyed global critical and commercial success. (No Korean film has ever been nominated for the foreign-language Oscar either, though last year’s “Burning” was included in the shortlist.)
At a press event in Cannes after his win, Bong said that there are many other Korean directors with the talent to win. On his arrival back home, Bong said: “The Cannes Film Festival has given a big present to the Korean film industry to celebrate its 100th anniversary.”
It is welcome news for a Korean entertainment industry that has recently been troubled by sex scandals, remains under scrutiny for the alleged anti-competitive practices of its leading studios, and before that suffered at the hands of the country’s previous governing regime.
“Parasite” which probes the curious relationship between a wealthy nuclear family and a family of poor who emerge, almost literally, from the sewers, is Bong’s first wholly-Korean film in 10 years since “Mother.” In intervening years he has made multinational fantasy “Snowpiercer” and Netflix creature feature “Okja”. The dark satire of “Parasite” is unlikely to be lost on audiences in Korea where vast gulfs between poor and the entitled elites have persisted despite the country’s economic success.
Overseas audiences will also get a taste of Bong’s unusual brand of social commentary. CJ reports having sold rights to the film to distributors covering over 190 territories. The Munich Film Festival next month will also host a Bong career retrospective.