The Oscar-award winning director of ‘Parasite’ was once blacklisted in his own country for being too liberal

South Korean director Bong Joon Ho took home three Oscars on Sunday — including Best Picture — for his dark class warfare comedy “Parasite.”Just four years ago, Bong was among thousands of Korean artists put on a secret government blacklist for their liberal politics. The blacklist sought to keep these left-leaning artists from receiving government funding.…

The Oscar-award winning director of ‘Parasite’ was once blacklisted in his own country for being too liberal
  • South Korean director Bong Joon Ho took home three Oscars on Sunday — including Best Picture — for his dark class warfare comedy “Parasite.”
  • Just four years ago, Bong was among thousands of Korean artists put on a secret government blacklist for their liberal politics. 
  • The blacklist sought to keep these left-leaning artists from receiving government funding. It was among the reasons then-South Korean President Park Geun-hye was impeached and removed from office. 
  • Korean expert S. Nathan Park wrote in the Washington Post on Monday that ‘Parasite’ may never have been produced if Bong and his “Parasite” co-creators remained on the blacklist. 
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

South Korean director Bong Joon Ho was the surprise winner of Sunday night’s Oscars, taking home the awards for best picture, director, and international film for his movie “Parasite.”

It was a major victory for a director who, just four years earlier, was on a blacklist in his home country for being too liberal. 

In 2016, it was revealed that Bong and two of his “Parasite” collaborators, actor Song Kang-ho and producer Miky Lee, were on a South Korean government blacklist of more than 9,000 artists, Korea expert S. Nathan Park wrote in a Monday op-ed for the Washington Post. Bong’s works have focused on such topics as inequality, the military-industrial complex, and the failure to address global warming.

The Kim Family (Woo sik Choi, Kang ho Song, Hye jin Jang, So dam Park) in Parasite. Courtesy of NEON   CJ Entertainment

“Parasite” is a dark comedy about one poor South Korean family’s efforts to win long-term employment with a wealthy family.

Neon/CJ Entertainment


The blacklist was created under conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. It was greatly expanded under his successor, Park Geun-hye, to starve left-leaning artists of government funding for their projects, and at that point included Bong.

Bong was nevertheless able to continue working during this time, telling AFP in 2017 that he was able to use his prominence to get private funding for his films, including “Snowpiercer” and “Okja.”

But Song and Lee had a harder time. Song, who plays the patriarch of the poor family at the center of “Parasite,” was unable to find work after starring in “The Attorney,” a biopic on former liberal South Korean president Roh Moo-yun. Lee produced that film and was subsequently forced to resign from his production company over it and other movies that the government deemed too liberal. 

“If the blacklist continued, there was a good chance that ‘Parasite’ would never have been made,” Park wrote. 

After the blacklist was revealed in 2016, it was one of the factors that led to President Park’s impeachment and subsequent removal from office later that year.

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