Parasite Director Bong Joon-Ho Credits Spike Lee Movies For Teaching Him English Swear Words

That's the power of movies.



Bong Joon Ho

On Wednesday night, Parasite director Bong Joon-Ho received the award at the African American Film Critics Association Awards for best foreign film (perhaps a prelude to an Oscar?), and then he used his acceptance speech to charm the crowd with an anecdote about how Spike Lee taught him to properly swear in English. 

That's the magic of movies for ya. 

Joon-Ho, through an interpreter, said this all began when he was participating in illegal film festivals while studying English in college an ocean away. 

“I came from a place very far away. I live in South Korea,” he said. “On campus, we held several illegal film festivals where we would have unofficial screenings at local cinematheques. We would screen a lot of American indie films and create subtitles ourselves.”

“The movies I did subtitles for was Jungle Fever and Do the Right Thing,” he added. “At the time, my English wasn’t that good, so subtitling it was quite an experience. I had no idea there was such various curse words in the English language. Thanks to Spike Lee, I learned so many things.”

After talking about how he expanded his vocabulary through cinema, Joon-Ho then pivoted to explaining that he got to meet Lee, but forgot to tell him about the whole thing. 

“I was so excited and honored I made sure to take a picture right away, but things were so hectic I didn’t get a chance to tell him I subtitled Do the Right Thing,” he revealed. “If I meet him again, I would love to tell him. If any of you are acquainted with him, please let him know.”

Just over a week ago, Parasite became the first foreign film to ever win the Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture. 

The film had originally premiered in May 2019 at the Cannes Film Festival, where it claimed the top honor at that event, the Palme d'Or. It also got a Golden Globe for best foreign-language film earlier in January.

All that would seem to qualify as momentum going into the Oscars, which airs just 13 days from now. At that ceremony,Parasite will be up for six awards, including Best Picture, Best International Feature Film, and Best Director. 

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