Asian American members of the 'Bong-hive' share significance of 'Parasite' win

Asian Americans took to social media to explain why the wins mean so much more than just Oscars glory.
Image: 92nd Academy Awards - Oscars Show - Hollywood
Kwak Sin Ae and Bong Joon Ho win the Oscar for Best Picture for "Parasite" at the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9, 2020.Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

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By Kimmy Yam

It was a historic night for South Korean film “Parasite” at Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony, prompting the Korean diaspora to react with pride.

The movie, helmed by acclaimed director Bong Joon Ho, took home several awards -- including best picture, making it the first non-English-language film to do so in the ceremony’s history. Asian Americans took to social media to explain why the wins mean so much more than just Oscars glory.

“Growing up, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine seeing an #Oscars Best Picture winner stage looking like THIS!” journalist Rachel Chang wrote on Twitter. “That never should have been the case, but I’m relieved the day has come where @TheAcademy & mainstream public can honor an Asian film. Congrats.”

Some shared personal stories, while others expressed their Korean pride.

A few people on social media also pointed out that Bong has been heralded as an accomplished director in Korea for some time. The wins at the Academy Awards marked the first time the director’s skill was properly acknowledged in the U.S.

Before “Parasite” even swept at the Oscars, many Korean Americans shared with NBC News that the film allowed them to bond with their immigrant parents. William Kye, who’s based in New York City and whose family is based in Pennsylvania, explained that while he’s accustomed to explaining different Western cultural references to his parents, the film reversed the roles.

“When we’re talking about an English film, me and my sister explain the cultural things to my parents. But this film takes place in Korea and me and my sister have never lived in Korea. They had to explain the culturally significant facts to us,” he said. “[My dad] kept pointing out how the film did such a good job, drawing the distinction between the rich and poor in Korea.”

While “Parasite’s” win is culturally significant, many argued that the Academy has a long way to go before people of color achieve parity, criticizing it for failing to give the film any acting nominations. Only 11 best picture winners in the awards ceremony’s 91-year history did not receive a single acting nomination.