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Parasite director: Who is Bong Joon-ho? Inside the career of Oscar winning director

Bong Joon-ho won Pest Picture for his film Parasite at the Oscars on Sunday. The director is no newcomer to the film industry, as his previous movies show. Joon-ho has been working hard for many years, with his first directed feature coming out in 2000. After 20 years of hard work, one of his first movies as a director, writer and producer has seen him win one of the biggest awards in the film industry.

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Who is Bong Joon-ho?

Bong Joon-ho is a South Korean film director, who was born in Daegu in 1969, as the youngest of four children.

His father was a graphic designer and professor while his mother was a full-time housewife and mother.

Academia was of real importance in his family, given his grandfather and two of his siblings are historical authors and professors.

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Parasite director: Who is Bong Joon-ho? Inside the career of Oscar winning director (Image: Neon/Getty)

However, Bong-ho studied sociology at the Yonsei University and was active in student demonstrations which took place during his time there.

His love of film was first made clear when he started a film club which joined up other universities, and he made his first movies while with the Yellow Door club.

His first movie was a stop-motion short called Looking for Paradise, following by a 16mm short called White Man.

After graduating, he did a two-year programme at the Korean Academy of Film Arts, and made a huge number of 16mm short films, including Memory Within the Frame and Incoherence, both of which were invited to screen at the Vancouver and Hong Kong International Film Festivals.

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Bong-ho spent years contributing to other works, being credited for screenplay work on Seven Reasons Why Beer is Better Than a Lover and Phantom the Submarine, and he worked as an assistant director on 1997 movie Motel Cactus.

His first feature, Barking Dogs Never Bite, broke even after two years of its release, as word of mouth was building internationally to his work.

His second movie was a much larger film, Memories of Murder, but sadly it was passed over by the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals.

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The film did, however, receive a strong critical reception in France and the USA, which allowed Bong to take some time to work on some anthology movies before his third movie.

Chris Evans in Snowpiercer (Image: GEM Entertainment)

The Host, Bong-ho’s 2006 movie, was the first which really got a lot of critical acclaim, and it played at the Cannes Film Festival and was even bought for an English-language remake.

His next movie, Mother, played at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009 to yet more acclaim, getting Bong-ho the attention he deserved.

The next big project for Bong-ho was his first English-language movie, Snowpiercer, which is based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige.

This movie starred Chris Evans, of Captain America fame, as well as Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer and John Hurt in one of his later roles.

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Tilda Swinton in Okja (Image: Netflix)

Snowpiercer is currently being developed for a TV series, which will likely be released in 2020.

Bong-ho’s most controversial film was yet to come – as Okja gained quite a mixed review when it premiered at Cannes.

One of the reasons for this is because the movie was produced by Netflix, and one of the studio’s first feature films.

Needless to say, the old guard of the film industry were not impressed by the young guns, Netflix, submitting movies, but despite their reaction critics were hugely fond of Okja, which starred Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal in a movie co-written by Jon Ronson.

Bong Joon-ho’s movie Parasite (Image: Neon)

His most recent film, Parasite, has been greeted with worldwide acclaim, winning him the Palme D’Or at Cannes with a unanimous vote for the first time since 2013’s Blue is the Warmest Colour.

It has also won the Best International Film and Best Picture awards at the Oscars, while Bong-ho became the second Asian person to win the Best Director gong after Ang Lee bagged it twice.

Needless to say, despite Bong-ho only being known on the international stage for a decade or so, he will definitely be one to watch for future productions.

Parasite is in cinemas now

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