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30 Brilliant Facts About Most Popular South Korean Director – Bong Joon-ho

Bong Joon-ho
(Photo : Dick Thomas Johnson from Tokyo, Japan )

Bong Joon-ho, the world renowned South Korean director, who broke the ground with his Academy Award winning movie “Parasite,” in the year 2019. To say, he was the star of the year 2019, would be an understatement, as the brilliant director made several records. And to say, it only took him 4 months to complete the entire script of the movie. His entire career as a director, is full of triumphant movies, like the “Memories of Murder,” “The Host,” “Snowpiercer,” and “Okja.” While his first movie “Barking Dogs Never Bite,” was not a commercial success like the rest, it was praised by critics. Here are some really fascinating facts about Bong Joon-ho that will make you love him more:

    File:Bong Joon-ho at Berlin Film Festival 2015.jpg"File:Bong Joon-ho at Berlin Film Festival 2015.jpg" by Siebbi is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

  1.  He is the first Korean director, and the second Asian director to have won an Academy Award for Best Director, for his movie “Parasite.”
  2.  Bong was named No. 1 Favorite Film Director among the most respected figures of college students nationwide from 2009 to 2019 in Korea.
  3.  During the filming of the 2017 movie “Okja” he and producer Dooho Choi visited a real slaughterhouse in Colorado in order to prepare for the scene in the movie, which resulted in the duo converting to vegans temporarily.
  4.  Recalling the experience of filming the 2019 movie “Parasite” in a hyper-rich Korean home, he said his hands literally shook when he was returning a trash can that was used as a prop.
  5.  He claimed that it was due to anxiety, as the trash can was of high-tech variety that stayed silent even when the lid was being closed, costing as much as US $2,500.
  6.  Bong Joon-ho was born on September 14, 1969 to Bong Sang-gyun and Park So-young in Daegu, South Korea. She is the youngest of four children.
  7.  His father was a South Korea’s first-generation graphic designer, industrial designer. He was a professor of art at Yeungnam University and the head of the art department at the National Film Institute.
  8.  His mother was a full-time housewife, while his maternal grandfather – Park Taewon was an esteemed author during the Japanese colonial period, famous for his work “A Day in the Life of Kubo the Novelist” and his defection to North Korea in 1950.
  9.  His father retired from the Seoul Institute of Technology as a professor of design in the year 2007. He passed away ten years later in 2017.
  10.  Bong Joon-ho’s elder brother – Bong Joon-soo is an English professor at the Seoul National University, while his elder sister Bong Ji-hee is a fashion design professor at Anyang University.
  11. Bong Joon Ho Mother Close Up"Bong Joon Ho Mother Close Up" by rasdourian is licensed under CC BY 2.0

  12.  His family relocated to Seoul, when he was in elementary school, residing in Jamsil-dong by the Han River. He enrolled in Yonsei University, choosing sociology as major, in 1988.
  13.  In his college years, he was an active participant of student demonstrations of the South Korean democracy movement, and was often subjected to tear gas.
  14.  He served a two-year term in the military in accordance with the compulsory military service of South Korea, before returning to college in 1992.
  15.  He co-founded a film club – “Yellow Door,” along with other students, and made his first films - a stop motion short titled “Looking for Paradise” and 16 mm film short titled “Baeksaekin” (White Man) as a member of the club.
  16.  He completed a two-year program at the Korean Academy of Film Arts in the early 1990s, where he made many 16mm short films, including the “Incoherence” and “Memories in My Frame,” which were invited to screen at the Hong Kong International Film Festival.
  17.  Apart from these, he also collaborated with his classmates on many other projects including his work as a cinematographer on the 1994 highly acclaimed short “2001 Imagine.”
  18.  In the initial days of his career, he had a very meager salary of US$1,900 per year, making it very hard to even buy rice. He had to borrow rice from his university’s alumni, and this kind of hardships lasted for more than ten years.
  19.  He received partial screenplay credit on the anthology film “Seven Reasons Why Beer is Better Than a Lover” in the year 1996.
  20.  Bong Joon-ho was credited with screenplay, as well as the assistant director on the Park Ki-young’s debut movie “Motel Cactus” in the year 1997.
  21.  Two years later, in 1999, he was credited as one of the four writers of the famous screenplay of “Phantom: The Submarine.”
  22. Okja Japan Premiere: Bong Joon-ho"Okja Japan Premiere: Bong Joon-ho" by Dick Thomas Johnson is licensed under CC BY 2.0

  23.  Having worked with producer Cha Seung-jae, in “Motel Cactus” and “Phantom: The Submarine,” he began shooting his first feature film “Barking Dogs Never Bite.”
  24.  The entire movie was shot in the same apartment complex where Bong lived after his marriage. The movie received little commercial success but positive critical reviews.
  25.  The movie was invited to the competition section of Spain's San Sebastián International Film Festival, and won awards at the Slamdance Film Festival and Hong Kong International Film Festival.
  26.  He met his wife Jung Sun-young at a cinema club and fell in love with her. The couple got married in the year 1995. He claims her to be an inspiration to him, and that she is “always the first reader of his new script.”
  27.  His son Bong Hyo-Min is also an up-and-coming film maker, who directed the web movie “Wedding Ceremony” in the year 2017.
  28.  His second movie “Memories of Murder” proved a critical success, selling over five million tickets, and a lot of local honors at the Grand Bell Awards in 2003, while rescuing Cha Seung-jae’s production company Sidus from near-bankruptcy.
  29.  His third movie – “The Host,” received a rapturous premiere in the Directors' Fortnight section of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. The movie enjoyed South Korea’s widest release ever, setting a new box office record of 13 million tickets at that time.
  30.  During the filming of 2013 movie “Snowpierce” he often clashed with producer Harvey Weinstein, upon whose version of the movie was the final cut. In particular, the fish scene, which was Bong’s favorite, was asked to be removed by Harvey, in favor of more action.
  31.  But he wanted to keep the shot for a personal reason, as a tribute to his late father. Weinstein allowed Bong to keep the shot, as he too always feels family is very important.
  32.  His movie “Parasite” was the first film not in English to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Bong was included on Metacritics’s list of the 25 best film directors of the 21st century in 2017.
  33.  Bong Joon-ho Net worth: $30 Million

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