Parasite Paves the Way for Minari’s Success

Rebecca Heimbrock, Staff Writer

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In 2019 the world was swept by a groundbreaking new film from director Bong Joon-Ho. Parasite, a two-hour movie performed entirely in Korean, confronted wealth disparities and what it takes to be a family. Even though Parasite was in a different language, it was a hit in America, winning two Academy Awards and a Golden Globe – though these are a mere snippet of the long and impressive list of accolades this movie has received. 

So how did Parasite, a film that received a rare 98 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, end up becoming one of the most talked-about films of the 2019 movie cycle? What made this movie so successful was the intensely purposeful class commentary, coupled with brilliant directing and a classic slow-burn plot structure. Parasite is the first South Korean film to receive an Academy Award, and after watching the film, it’s easy to see why this movie was the one to break through the Academy’s heavily-criticized barriers which exclude foreign films from American award shows. 

South Korean media is seeing a surge in popularity in the United States. In an informal poll, 33 percent of responding Woodson students said they had consumed South Korean movies and TV this school year. While 33 percent may be a seemingly innocuous number, the US as a whole accounts for 5 to 6 percent (KOCCA, 2019) of Korean TV viewership — such a small percent represents a shocking 18 million viewers. From K-Dramas (think soap operas but more dramatic, and with better writing) to feature-length films, many Americans are delving into the world of South Korean cinema. 

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This rise in popularity has led to another foreign-language film making a debut in America. Minari, an A-24 production, chronicles the journey of a Korean American family trying to survive on a farm in Arkansas. In many ways, this movie mirrors others produced in the US about rural families attempting to survive in a homestead. However, by pursuing this theme through a new lens, director Lee Isaac Chung reinvents an otherwise stale trope.

 While Minari is still relegated to theaters, with a digital release date of February 26, the trailer tantalizes its audience with promising cinematic shots and scenes that cleanly fit A24’s carefully crafted indie aesthetic. Telling a tale of what it takes to be a family and build a home, Minari will resonate deeply with American families while the country weathers an increasingly hard year.