After flying into Cannes to open the festival in Korean on Tuesday night, “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho took a trip down memory lane.
Speaking at an on-stage interview Wednesday in front of a public audience, who accorded him a standing ovation on arrival, Bong discussed his early cinema experiences, the good and bad sides of video streaming and his obsession with mass murderers.
“I had no idea that ‘Parasite’ would be a such a global hit. Its success was far beyond my expectations. Though I made it in exactly the same way as normal,” said Bong. “And I remain unchanged by it. I mean look at me, I’m exactly the same.”
Bong said that he is currently enjoying revisiting the class war subject matter at the heart of his Oscar-winning film, albeit as part of a team working on a ‘Parasite’ series.
“The subject continues to have resonance in France and elsewhere. Many of would like to be rich, but I think in all of us there is a fear of becoming poor,” said Bong. “I’m involved in the HBO adaptation (of ‘Parasite’.) It will be a black comedy. I’m working in close cooperation with screenwriter Adam McKay. This time I’m giving my input this time as a producer.”
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He said that he has already been working for three years on his next film, an animation project. “It was inspired by a French scientific book that my wife bought and brought home. The pictures of the sea creatures were extraordinary. After that my imagination took over.”
The director, who only took up filmmaking, after university studies in sociology, however, played down suggestions that the subject had much enduring influence on his filmmaking. “Honestly, I was a very bad student. And I can barely read my notes from those days.”
“I made ‘Memories of Murder’ 17 years after the real events. And so I threw myself into the research. I interviewed everyone I could, detectives, local journalists, but one person escaped, the murder himself. I always wondered what he looked like, about his face. I became so obsessed that he started to appear in my dreams,” said Bong. It was another 16 years after the 2003 film that the man was caught. “There has been discussion about whether he has seen it. Some people say he has watched it many times. A policeman told me that (the murderer) watched and thought it was mediocre.”
Bong revealed another obsession, making at least three references in an hour to the former military regime that ruled South Korea when he was growing up, and was known for its heavy-handed and censorious rule. “Korean society is moving so fast today,” he said. “Things that happen in other countries over a period of years can happen in Korea in just a few months.”
– More to follow.
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