South Koreans celebrate big wins for ‘Parasite’ at the Oscars

South Korean President Moon Jae-in started his presidential staff meeting on Monday with a round of applause for the South Korean film “Parasite,” after its historic win at the Academy Awards.

He wasn’t alone in expressing his pride in the film and it’s international appeal as South Korean movie buffs and the media celebrated its victory.

The South Korean film about a poor family of grifters who worm their way into the lives of a rich but naive household became the first non-English-language film to win best picture in the history of the Oscars. It also won for best international feature, best original screenplay and best director for Bong Joon-ho.

Film club members at the Yeonsei University in Seoul celebrate as they watch the Oscars.Ahn Young-joon / AP

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“Parasite has moved the hearts of people around the world with a most uniquely Korean story,” the president wrote in a message of congratulations that he then posted on social media.

The film’s Oscar success led most of South Korea’s media on Monday with the biggest newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, saying: “Can you believe that ‘Parasite’ won the Academy best picture?”

The U.S Ambassador Harry Harris also tweeted his congratulations for director Bong and his team as he posted photos of the embassy’s Oscar party.

“Parasite” won the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious Palme d’Or last year.

The win was a reprieve from news of the coronavirus which has preoccupied South Korea, where 27 cases have been reported, though no deaths have occurred. The virus has killed more than 900 people and sickened tens of thousands of others, mainly in China.

Moon alluded to this in his congratulations message, saying that he was grateful to the director, cast and crew for “instilling pride and courage in our people as we come together to weather difficulties.”

Sales at tour agencies, restaurants, movie theaters and department stores have sharply declined, raising worries about the impact on South Korea’s already-lagging economy. Opposition parties are accusing the government of ineffectiveness in coping with the outbreak.

Moon wasn’t the only politician to welcome the recognition for the film.

“It’s happy news, like welcome rain, to the Republic of Korea, which is depressed, stagnant and thrown into despair due to Wuhan pneumonia,” the main opposition Liberty Korea Party said in a statement. Wuhan is the Chinese city at the center of the outbreak.

Associated Press contributed.

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