South Korean director Bong Joon-ho grabbed the highest honor at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival on Saturday for his black comedy movie "Parasite."
Bong became the first South Korean director to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes. Before him, Park Chan-wook was awarded the Grand Prix, the second-highest prize at the festival, for his thriller "Old Boy" in 2004.
His achievement marks the fifth time that a Korean film has received one of the main competition awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Park Chan-wook earned one twice with "Old Boy" (2004) and "Thirst" (2009), Lee Chang-dong picked up the best screenplay award with "Poetry" (2010), and "Secret Sunshine" (2007) grabbed the best actress award for Jeon Do-yeon.
"Parasite" finished first in a fierce competition against big-name candidates and Cannes laureates like "Pain and Glory" by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar and "Young Ahmed" by the Belgian filmmaking brothers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne.
When his name was called at the very end of the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival, he shouted with joy and hugged his colleagues.
"I didn't prepare a speech in French, but I'm inspired a lot by French movies," he told the audience via a French-speaking interpreter at the awards ceremony. "'Parasite' was an amazing adventure for me."
He thanked his staff and cast for their dedication and contribution to completing the masterpiece.
"When I was 12 years old, I decided to become a film director," he said. "I'd never imagined the day that I touch this trophy."
"Parasite", Bong's seventh feature film, revolves around the poor family of Ki-taek who live in a squalid, grubby basement. They become involved in a string of mishaps after the sly son gets a job as a tutor for a moneyed family residing in an opulent, gaudy mansion.
The Grand Prix went to "Atlantics" by Mati Diop, and the best director award was given to Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne for "Young Ahmed." (Yonhap)