Home Celebrities 31 Facts About Bong Joon-ho You Probably Didn’t Know Before

31 Facts About Bong Joon-ho You Probably Didn’t Know Before


Bong Joon-ho took film industry, if not the entire world, by storm in the year 2019 with his movie “Parasite,” which became the first South Korean film to compete for Academy Awards in the Oscars’ 92-year history. Although he had been one of South Korea’s best filmmakers for years, “Parasite” gave him his hard-earned leap into the Hollywood, getting him into the world’s best directors list. Now that, Bong has captured the hearts of people across the globe, it’s time to get to know him more. Here are some really fascinating things about the director that will blow your mind.

  1. According to the ‘Metacritic review in 2017, Bong is ranked 13th among 25 best film directors of the 21st century. He was greatly influenced by Martin Scorsese films.
  2. Nicknamed Bong Tae-il, in South Korean film fraternity, Bong is a filmmaker excelling in crime drama and science fiction films with over 15 films to his credit as a writer and director in his 17-year career. He has also appeared as an actor in four films.
  3. In 1994, he made his entry as an independent filmmaker with three short films, ‘White Man,’ Memories in My Frame,’ and ‘Incoherence.’ He wrote and directed all the three and also made a cameo in Incoherence, which received the strongest reception among short films released at that time.
  4. The short film ‘Incoherence,’ was also his graduation project at the ‘Korean Academy of Film Arts.’ The film was invited to screen at the ‘Hong Kong International Film Festival,’ and ‘Vancouver International Film Festival.’
  5. With his feature film directorial debut ‘Barking Dogs Never Bite,’ in 2000, Bong marked himself as a talented newcomer, for which he also co-wrote the script. The story is revolved around a large apartments complex, is the same apartment where Bong lives.
  6. Bong is the youngest of four children to Bong Sang-gyun and Park So-young. His father a graphic designer by profession was a professor of art at Yeungnam University and headed the art department at National Film Institute while his mother who had been an elementary school teacher, retired to become whole time housewife.
  7. His maternal grandfather Park Taewon, an esteemed author defected to North Korea, during the Korean War in 1950. His name became a taboo in South Korea and his direct descendants experienced many difficulties.
  8. His childhood is of quiet and isolated life with rest of his family members were all solitary individuals. His father was a reticent sort who rarely conversed and his siblings would awkwardly ignore each other outside the house.
  9. Bong was greatly influenced by his father’s drawing and imitated him in laying out animation illustration with 2D and 3D drawings, during his middle school days. This hobby continued even in high school where he had his work printed out at his Catholic Church youth group bulletin.
  10. After completing his schooling at Jamsil High School, Songpa-gu, Seoul, he joined ‘Yonsei University in 1988, with sociology as his major. During this period, he was forced to undergo two years of compulsory military service, before returning to complete his graduation in 1995.
  11. As a student of Yonsei University, he was active participant in the South Korean democracy movement. He indulged in student demonstrations and was subjected to teargas on these occasions.
  12. As an activist, Bong along with other protesters, used to throw among other things, Molotov cocktails from mixture of paint thinner and water, which were visibly explosive but less dangerous than that of gasoline. He was even arrested for hurling the explosives.
  13. He was once a member of now dysfunctional New Progressive Party, supporting the Democratic Labor Party. He also used to teach children of wealthy persons in his locality.
  14. During his college days, he formed a film club called ‘Yellow Door,’ with the students of neighboring Universities. He made short films including ‘Paradise,’ and ‘Baeksaekin,’ in 1994, which were screened at the Vancouver and Hong Kong International Film Festival.
  15. After graduation he worked with other directors in various filmmaking capacities in late 1990s. During these times he was part of production in making of ‘Seven Reasons Why Beer is Better Than a Lover,’ Motel Cactus,’ and ‘Phantom: The Submarine.’
  16. His early days in film production was one full of hardship and was barely able to make his living with US$3800 per year. During this period, he even worked as cinematographer and also as lighting technician for other productions.
  17. His Barking Dogs Never Bite, though it received generally favorable reviews with dreamlike fantasy and offbeat humor, it took two years to achieve break-even point. The film won awards at the ‘Slamdance Film Festival,’ the annual emerging artist platform and ‘Hong Kong International Film Festival.’
  18. Bong earned critical praise for his second film ‘Memories of Murder,’ based on true story of Korea’s first serial murder in history. The film is considered as one of the best South Korean films of all time and went on to win the South Korean film industry’s 2003 ‘Grand Bell Awards,’ for Best Film.
  19. At the time of film release, the real killer was at loose and Bong was confident that the killer would watch the film. Hence in the final scene he had the detective Park Doo-man, to look directly into the camera, hoping to face the killer in the audience. The real murderer was identified in September 2019, in a prison.
  20. The film Memories of Murder, was premiered at Spain’s San Sebastian International Film Festival and won three awards including Best Director Award for Bong. It was the fourth most viewed film of all time in South Korea and its success also saved the production company, Sidus Pictures, from bankruptcy.
  21. In 2004, Bong directed thirty minutes’ short film ‘Influenza,’ for Jeonju International Film Festival’s annual digital project. The film dealing with disturbingly humorous 31-year-old unemployed man’s turn to violent crime was captured on Seoul’s omnipresent CCTVs and observation cameras.
  22. His 2006 monster film, ‘The Host,’ released on over 1,800 screens set a new box-office record of highest grossing South Korean film of all time with 13 million ticket sale. It received many awards including Best Film at the ‘Asian Film Awards,’ and at the ‘Blue Dragon Film Awards.’
  23. In 2008 Bong joined hands with Michael Gondry, and Leos Carax, in directing ‘Tokyo,’ an anthology film about a city of transitions. He directed ‘Shaking Tokyo,’ segment, about a man who lived a decade as a Hikikomori, but falls in love with a pizza delivery girl.
  24. The ‘Mother,’ a family drama thriller, about a mother defending her intellectually disabled son from murder accusation, earned Bong an international recognition, when it was selected as South Korean’s official entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010. As an irony the title ‘Mother,’ is spelled the same as murder, when translated to Korean characters.
  25. The film ran into controversy in 2019, when it was alleged that Bong asked the actor, Won Bin, to touch actress Kim Hye-ja’s breast when the scene was not in the script. The media termed it as actress Hye-ja ‘Me Too Story,’ but she clarified that it was discussed in advanced.
  26. Bong made his English language directional debut with 2013 science fiction film ‘Snowpiercer,’ with a budget of $40 million, to become the most expensive Korean film till date.
  27. The film Snowpiercer, was filmed in seventy-two days despite difference of opinion between director Bong and producer Harvey Weinstein, over their version of film. Weinstein insisted on having the fish scene removed in favor more action, Bong refused stating it was a tribute to his late father, a fisherman, when it was a blatant lie.
  28. The action-adventure film of 2017, ‘Okja,’ ran into controversy at the Canes Film Festival, due to the streaming service, Netflix’s distribution rights, as that would prevent a theatrical release in France after the festival. Subsequently it was made mandatory to get France theatrical rights before consideration for competition.
  29. The black comedy thriller film ‘Parasite,’ in 2019, has many first to its name. It is the first non-English film to win the Academy Awards for Best Picture and first South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or, at the Cannes Film Festival.
  30. The film won four Oscars, for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best International Feature, out of six nominations. It was a big commercial success with net profit of $46.2 million.
  31. Bong Joon-ho Net Worth: $30 Million
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