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Bong Joon Ho Makes Triumphant Return to Korea, Talks Oscars and ‘Parasite’ in Black and White 

Bong Joon-ho, director of Oscar-winning "Parasite,"
Ahn Young-joon/AP/Shutterstock

Bong Joon Ho and the key cast of quadruple Oscar-winning black comedy “Parasite” returned home to South Korea this week. At a press event in Seoul on Wednesday they reflected on lessons from the Academy Awards.

“Compared to Hollywood studios and Netflix, our Oscars campaign was smaller. Other nominees had enormous ads on billboard and TV ads,” said Bong at a press conference held in Seoul. “We, NEON, CJ Entertainment and Barunson, however, closed ranks and managed to cover the gap with our passion. There were times I found such expensive campaigns awkward, but I’ve come to think that is, in a sense, a process to examine and appreciate each film in so much depth.”

Song Kang Ho, the lead actor of the family tragedy, said that the campaign was “a journey to learn how to communicate with artists in the international film industry, not to achieve those trophies.” Asked about his Oscars experience, he said he tried to stay calm as much as he could. “If you look at the clips [from the Oscars] closely, you must be able to see me trying not to be overwhelmed by excitement too much. In Cannes, I was so excited that I [hugged] Bong too hard and ended up cracking his ribs,” said the 52-year old actor.

Bong has joined HBO’s adaptation of “Parasite” as executive producer along with Adam McKay.

“It will be a five to six-episode limited series; no season 2 or 3. We are developing it as a dense black comedy/crime series that thoroughly explores the rich-poor gap of our time,” said Bong. “It is not official that Tilda Swinton and Mark Ruffalo will star in the series, as some hasty stories have reported recently. The ‘Snowpiercer’ series, which is set for TV premiere in May in North America, took some five years to be aired. The HBO version of ‘Parasite’ series is in a very early phase of development and will take similarly long.”

Meanwhile, the awards-winning filmmaker is also currently working on his two new projects, one in the Korean language and the other in English, both of which he compared to the scope of “Parasite” and “Mother.”

“I have been developing those projects for a long time. They had started before ‘Parasite’ won the Oscars. I will make them the same way I’ve made my previous films,” said the filmmaker. “I was already diagnosed with burnout [syndrome] when I finished ‘Okja.’ But then I scraped up the pieces of my soul because I really wanted to make ‘Parasite.’ Now that the Oscars race is over, I thought of taking a rest but Martin Scorsese sent me a message this morning, saying that my break should be a short one because he is awaiting my new film.”

Since its premiere in Cannes last year, “Parasite” has swept 174 awards outside Korea and finished its awards run by winning four prizes at the Oscars earlier this month.

A black and white version of “Parasite,” which first screened at the Rotterdam festival last month, is set for a Feb. 26 commercial release in Korea. Bong said that the move was motivated by his admiration for classic movies.

“I believe my audiences have the same romantic ideas about black and white films as I do. In addition, every detail and nuance of our actors’ performance will stand out in black and white,” Bong said.

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