Sharon Choi, “Parasite” director Bong Joon-ho’s interpreter, emerged as a star after this year’s Hollywood awards season.
Backstage at the Oscars, just as she had at the Golden Globes, Choi fielded questions about herself, with Bong volunteering that Choi was herself a director.
“You already know she’s a filmmaker,” Bong said backstage at the Oscars. “Actually, she is writing a feature length script, I’m so curious about it.”
Last year, before Choi started on “Parasite’s” history-making international odyssey, she screened a five-minute short at the Bay Area’s Center for Asian American Media Film Festival in May.
“Her film ‘Self Portrait’ is a tense and powerful experimental film. I remember watching it and immediately wanting to program the film,” festival director Masashi Niwano said. “She has a bold visual sense of storytelling that we were excited to showcase.”
After “Parasite” debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May — and throughout the press junkets, film festivals and awards shows in the months as followed — Choi has emerged as a breakout personality in her own right, and has accompanied Bong every time “Parasite” has won an award.
Choi’s ubiquity and agility in interpreting the director’s remarks — which can veer from affable jokes and quips to intimate soliloquies on the universal language of film — has been garnering admiration from fans.
While Bong speaks and understands English, he leaves the more nuanced answers to Choi.
Rather than delivering a strict word-for-word translation from Korean to English, she often employs colloquialisms or phrases to convey Bong’s thoughts.
In his Golden Globes acceptance speech for the best foreign language film, Bong spoke about overcoming the barrier of foreign films: “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” Choi said, streamlining Bong’s Korean.
Her deftness at doing so has made her a favorite in her Korea, where people watch her videos to practice English.
“She’s perfect. And we all depend on her, and she’s also a great filmmaker,” Bong said of Choi to the Hollywood Reporter at the Golden Globes.
By Sunday’s red carpet, when asked about Choi by E!, Choi found herself in the awkward position of having to translate her own praise.
“It’s very embarrassing to translate, but [Bong] said that thanks to me, this campaign has been a smooth journey,” she said.
As for what’s next, the Wrap’s Steve Pond tweeted that Choi plans to make a movie about subject she’s come to know very well over the past year: awards season.