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Language irrelevant to reach global audiences: Oscar winning director Bong

Bong Joon-ho holds his awards for "Parasite" at the Governors Ball after the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

LOS ANGELES (Mainichi) -- "I think we will naturally come to a day when whether it's a foreign language film, or not, it doesn't really matter," said film director Bong Joon Ho, a pioneer in the South Korean film industry, who received four Oscar awards on Feb. 9.

His film "Parasite," which portrays the class struggle between rich and poor, became the first non-English movie ever to win best picture in the 92-year history of the Academy Awards. Bong also won prizes for best director, best original screenplay and best international feature film for the movie.

In his acceptance speech, Bong mentioned the names of the four other nominees out of respect. "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," he said jokingly.

The son of a graphic designer, and grandson of a renowned novelist, Bong grew up watching movies on television with his family. He was fascinated by English filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock's productions, and started creating his own short movies while a university student. He was also greatly inspired by Japanese film directors Shohei Imamura and Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

Bong creates storyboards for everything he shoots, and shares the images with staff to keep his films precise and accurate. "Once I'm in the field, though, I try to speak less, while encouraging them (actors) to feel at ease. I think that's more important," he added.

When he was young and studying cinema, he carved American film director Martin Scorsese's quote deep into his heart, "The most personal is the most creative." The 50-year-old says Parasite, a purely Korean film, has garnered more enthusiasm from audiences all over the world compared to Hollywood movies he recently made.

"And that's making me think that, perhaps, the deeper I delve into things that are around me, the broader the story can become and the more appeal it can have to an international audience."

(Japanese original by Hojin Fukunaga, Los Angeles Bureau)

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