Parasite: A New Beginning for Foreign Films

“A sign that language is no longer a stumbling block for global success”


Mariana Razo, Staff Writer

This past month, one film has taken the entertainment industry by storm. Parasite made history on January 5th at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards by becoming the first Korean film winner for winning Best Foreign Language film. It also became the first non-English-language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars, along with 4 other Oscars.

According to the New York Times, Parasite “raked in more than $35 million on its way to winning four Academy Awards.”


Photo: Oscars

This film, according to Los Angeles Times, is “Directed by Bong Joon Ho and co-written with Han Jin Won, the genre-blending story of a poor South Korean clan that manipulates their way into the employ of a rich family…” Parasite is mostly described as pointing out the classism in South Korean society. By showing the gap between the rich and poor, this allowed many to create a connection to the story, which captivated the audience.

When accepting his award at the Golden Globes, director Bong Joon Ho, stated, “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” This refers to how Bong hopes that this could break the subtitle barrier and that subtitles could be normalized since there are many amazing films that are not in English. Not only can this expose more films, but these awards also boosted Asian representation in the industry.

 Tim Smith, an Associate Professor of Cognitive Psychology, stated that “When you’re watching a subtitled movie, you have to be engaged with the screen and be more attached, but once you engage with that, you can have as rich an experience as if it were your language.”


Picture: CJ E&M


Another foreign language that is commonly known in the general public is Train to Busan, which is on Netflix and was popular during its release. When thinking of a foreign film, most think about this zombie movie; however, there are more to foreign films than Train to Busan and Parasite. With the breakthrough of these films, hope for other movies to achieve the same has risen.

“People were already overcoming these barriers through streaming services, YouTube, social media,” said Bong, “In the environment that we currently live in, I think we’re all connected. Naturally we will come to a day when a foreign language film or not, it doesn’t really matter.”

Parasite is currently in theaters, and has English subtitles. Reflecting the works of Bong, this is a great start to Bong’s hopes of normalizing subtitles. This night at the Oscars set a path of accepting not only foreign films, but other languages as well. It is important to recognize that the entertainment world has more to it than the English language. Overall, this movie is setting the path for other foreign films to come into the light.


Photo: Academy Awards