The success at the Academy Awards of Korean black comedy Parasite heralds a potential new element of the so-called K-wave, which has to date seen consumers in Asia and large parts of the rest of the world embrace Korean pop, soap operas and beauty products.
Alongside the best picture Oscar – the first foreign-language film ever to win – Parasite also won best director, best original screenplay and best international feature film to add to its Palme d’Or from last year’s Cannes Film Festival.
“This is a huge breaking of a psychological barrier,” Hollywood producer Janet Yang told TIME.
“This wall we’ve built, in which non-English language movies were limited not just in release or box office but in people’s minds, is being cracked.”
In many respects a Korean movie is perfect to start that process, since Korean culture has already made a significant impact on US culture in the shape of boy band BTS, which had three No. 1 albums in the Billboard 200 chart last year.
It was the first group to achieve such a feat since the Beatles back in the 1990s, the Washington Post noted – although this was still not enough to garner even a single nomination for last month’s Grammy awards.
Even if the Recording Academy hasn’t acknowledged the success of BTS, brands know a good thing when they see one; Puma, Mattel and Hyundai are among those that have successfully partnered with the band.
When Hyundai launched its Palisade model in late 2018, the SUV had “basically no brand awareness” said Sungwon Jee, vice president and head of the Creative Works group at Hyundai Motor Co.
But a marketing and social media campaign with BTS on board, #palisadewithBTS, generated 800 million likes, comments and shares and the brand’s Buy Palisade tweet was mentioned 40 times more than for any of its previously launched models.
Parasite director Bong Joon-ho may not have the appeal of a boy band but his success opens up possible new cinematic marketing angles for brands to consider as the Korean wave pushes even Hollywood in a new direction.
Sourced from Time, Washington Post, Asia Times; additional content by WARC staff