“Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films", said Bong Joon Ho, director of South Korean movie Parasite, which won four Academy Awards earlier this week.
Besides Bong's Best Director award, the movie also won the Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Original Screenplay awards.
It appears, however, that the barrier to enjoying foreign language films may be more than an inch tall for some.
In a widely circulated clip of an interview at the Oscars award show, Bong was asked "what made you decide to have the film in Korean, when you had other films in English?".
Here’s the whole clip. 🙄pic.twitter.com/gErFdwOJUt— ᴮᴱbora⁷ (@modooborahae) February 10, 2020
One version of the clip (uploaded by Twitter user @hoyarkive) has gone viral, with over 525,600 likes and 142,300 retweets.
‘what made you decide to have the film in korean’ she asks the korean director who lives in korea and speaks korean and hired a korean cast to play korean characters to make social criticism about class in koreapic.twitter.com/UwOWd1ej2G— princess ⁷ ☻ is dating jungkook (@hoyarkive) February 10, 2020
The question came across as unnecessary to some, with one Twitter user labelling it "ignorant" and "stupid".
Many pointed out how similar questions might come across as being ridiculous, in another context:
Given that Bong is credited as the writer of 14 films, of which only two (Snowpiercer and made-for-Netflix Okja) are in English, it seemed more natural to this commenter for the question to have been asked in reverse instead:
But none of this fazed Bong one bit.
Without skipping a beat, he responded:
"Snowpiercer is also about the rich and poor, but I wanted to see explore [a] similar theme with characters that I could see around my own daily life, set in Korea, with the Korean language".
The answer seems to echo the words of iconic director Martin Scorsese, which Bong had quoted in his Best Director acceptance speech: "The most personal is the most creative".
In spite of the negative reactions which the question drew, some netizens found the question reasonable.
The interviewer, Tamron Hall, also chimed in, pointing out that it was something which Bong had discussed in previous interviews.
And you must be aware of the last part of my question and that he has discussed it in prior interviews. Or perhaps I a more aware of the thirst to make others into something closer to what we see in the mirror. Inclusive much? https://t.co/YuOJ45YmTX— Tamron Hall (@tamronhall) February 10, 2020
Another commenter pointed out that the question could have been intended to give Bong "space to talk about why it's important for the movie to be in Korean".
You only wanted to hear what you wanted to hear.— ᴮᴱ @bts_twt ⁷ (@boyband_queen) February 10, 2020
This is a leading question. It sounds like @tamronhall wanted to give him the space to talk about why it’s important for the movie to be in Korean.
Parasite is the first non-English-language film to win the award for Best Picture.