Bong Joon-ho has spoken out against anti-Asian violence, and what creators in the film industry can do to confront social issues. Addressing recent attacks in the US — including the March 16 mass shooting in Atlanta that left eight people dead — the Parasite director admits that he has an outsider perspective, speaking from his home in Korea, but says: “as someone who is a part of mankind, as a person, it’s quite fearful to watch the hate crimes against Asian-Americans and the BLM movement.”
“I do think about what the film industry can do at this time,” he adds, in the interview broadcast at California’s Chapman University (via Deadline). “With films, creating a film takes a lot of time and a lot of money; it’s a big unit that can’t really respond quickly to issues that are currently happening in society.”
However, he says that he does think creators “can be bolder” when it comes to dealing with contemporary social issues: “They shouldn’t be afraid to confront them.”
As a good example of filmmaking that stands up against social injustice, Bong singles out Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do The Right Thing (which, as Lee suggests in his short film 3 Brothers, includes disturbing parallels with the murders of George Floyd and Eric Garner). Do The Right Thing is an example of the role a creator can play, Bong says, “not necessarily to predict what will happen in society, but to use your insight to portray the issues that are currently boiling underneath the surface of society that can explode later on”.
“For me, Parasite was a film where I tried to take that approach,” he adds. “It began with a question of ‘what does it mean to be poor or rich in our current times?’ As creators and artists, you sort of have to see through the essence and the central questions in our society through the days that you live through and send a reply to those questions through your work.”
Earlier this year, Bong Joon-ho revealed that he’s finished the script for one of two follow-up films to Parasite. One, written in Korean, is set in Seoul and “has unique elements of horror and action”, while the other is an English project revolving around a true event that happened in 2016.
A TV series adaptation of Parasite is also in the works at HBO. Seeing the director team up with Succession creator Adam McKay, the series is set to star Tilda Swinton in the lead role.
Read Dazed’s interview with Bong Joon-ho for more on the making and meaning of Parasite, and find a list of anti-Asian hate resources and organisations to support here.