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Do you know who is Bong Joon-ho?

By Say Peng  /  29 May 2019 (Wednesday)

(Photo credit: Mathilde Petit / FDC)

You may not have heard of the name "Bong Joon-ho", but chances are that you have seen one of his films.

In 2006, you might have recalled watching a monster film called 'The Host'? It was the highest grossing film in Korea of all time and did very well at the Singapore box office.

If not 'The Host', you might have seen the cute hippo-pig movie 'Okja' on Netflix. 

Does the name Bong Joon-ho begin to ring a little bell?

If it's still a no, then Bong's recent Palme d'Or win for his latest film 'Parasite' is bound to turn you into an ardent fan.

Since he was 12 years old, Bong wanted to be a film director. 

When he was in his early 20s, Bong enrolled in the Korean Academy of Film Arts, where he made several short films, including a trilogy of shorts called 'Incoherence'.

After graduation, he worked on the films of other directors before he debuted his first feature film, the satirical comedy 'Barking Dogs Never Bite'.

Unfortunately, 'Barking Dogs Never Bite' did not make much of a splash on the Korean box office.

It would be another 3 years before Bong left a mark on Korea cinema with 'Memories of Murder', a murder mystery that is based on the true story of the unsolved Hwaseong serial murders.

Starring then rising star Song Kang-ho, the film was a smash hit, becoming the fourth most watched film in Korea. The success of 'Memories of Murder' opened the way for Bong to take on much bigger projects.

Bong made a huge leap with his third film, the monster hit 'The Host'.

Made on a USD12 million-dollar budget, it was Bong's hitherto highest budget film and one of the biggest commercial films at that time.

After the massive critical and commercial success of 'The Host', to the surprise of some, Bong decided to make a much smaller scale film that is 'Mother'.

'Mother' is a film that Bong wrote specifically for the lead actress Kim Hye-ja. 

According to Bong, Kim is a famous TV actress, known for playing motherly roles. But Bong saw a hidden side to Kim that he was interested to explore. Bong, in essence, subverted the role of the motherly figure.

'Mother' premiered at the Un Certain Regard of the Cannes Film Festival to great critical reception.

Bong followed up 'Mother' with his first international English-language project, 'Snowpiercer' and then with the Netflix film 'Okja', which I'm sure you've seen and is probably most people's first or second introduction to Bong.

While Bong has consistently made great films that entertain, he has had far less success with film festival awards - until now, with the Palme d'Or for his latest film 'Parasite'.

'Parasite' will show in cinemas in Singapore from 27 June.

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