South Korean director Bong Joon-ho made history when he took home the Oscars for both Best Director and Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday (yesterday, Singapore time).
Parasite (2019), his satirical take on the class divide, is the first Asian film to win the Best Picture award. It follows an impoverished family as they cunningly infiltrate a wealthy household, as their tutor, art therapist, housekeeper and driver.
The darkly comedic thriller, which also won the Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, is set in South Korea but offers an incisive look at inequality all over the world today.
Bong and his co-writer Han Jin-won beat out a highly competitive field including Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In… Hollywood and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story.
The last time an Asian director won big at the Oscars was in 2013, when Taiwanese director Lee Ang won the Best Director award for his drama Life Of Pi (2012). But the movie lost out to Ben Affleck’s Argo for Best Picture.
Here are six other films by Bong to check out.
1. Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000)
In Bong’s debut movie, an unemployed college professor is unable to stand the incessant barking of dogs in his apartment building and is driven to become a canine killer.
A rather underrated film, Bong himself once shrugged it off as “a very stupid movie”.
For South Korean actress Bae Doona, however, her role as the maintenance worker investigating the matter was a pivotal one. She went on to work with Bong again in The Host (2006).
2. Memories Of Murder (2003)
Often held in the same regard as David Fincher’s Zodiac (2007), Memories Of Murder is a highly charged crime drama based on the true story of one of South Korea’s most notorious serial killers.
Lee Choon-jae, who was identified only last year, reportedly strangled 10 women to death with their own clothes in the city of Hwaseong, South Korea, between 1986 and 1991.
3. The Host (2006)
In this monster thriller, the toxic waste dumped into a river by military personnel unleashes an amphibious mutant with oversized jaws upon the people of South Korea.
Following the success of Memories Of Murder, the film was much anticipated, becoming one of the highest grossing South Korean films of all time.
4. Mother (2009)
A widow in a small South Korean town is plunged into fanatical pursuit of the proof to show that her mentally disabled son, who has been accused of murder, is innocent.
The gripping film has received international acclaim, especially for the haunting performance by South Korean actress Kim Hye-ja, who plays the titular character.
5. Snowpiercer (2013)
When a climate engineering experiment to halt global warming goes horribly wrong, the remaining survivors board the Snowpiercer, a train which chugs through a desolate earth on a perpetual-motion engine.
In Bong’s first English-language film, the tension between the indulgent rich at the front of the train and those who live mired in poverty at the back builds slowly but surely.
6. Okja (2017)
Bong’s adventure film is a charming but eccentric story about a girl who grows up doting on her beloved pet super-pig, only to realise that the pig has been genetically modified to be bred as a source of meat.
It was released on Netflix in 2017 to rave reviews, with The New York Times naming it one of the 10 most influential films of the decade.