Just as COVID-19 was spreading internationally in spring 2020, "Parasite" won the best picture Oscar at the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, making it the first non-English language movie to do so. Director Bong Joon-ho's black comedy showed the world what South Korean audiences had always known, that their national cinema was as accomplished and entertaining as any other.
The irony for the South Korean film industry was that right when they should have been attracting more international movie lovers to theaters, they were shut out by circumstances beyond their control.
One victim of this situation was the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), the most important film festival in Asia and the annual springboard for South Korean movies. BIFF should have been the center of the universe after "Parasite," but the festival, always held in October, was forced to downsize in 2020 and 2021.