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CJ Group shares credit for Parasite’s historic Oscar win

CJ Group Vice Chairwoman Lee Mi-kyung delivers an acceptance speech for “Parasite” at the Oscars, Sunday.(AP-Yonhap)
CJ Group Vice Chairwoman Lee Mi-kyung delivers an acceptance speech for “Parasite” at the Oscars, Sunday.(AP-Yonhap)

Capping off the historic moment at the 92nd Academy Awards on Sunday was a relatively unfamiliar face, thanking everyone from her brother to the Academy and general moviegoers for the best film win.

That was Lee Mi-kyung, vice chairman of South Korea’s retail and entertainment mogul CJ Group, who -- without the need for a translator -- shared her joy with director Bong Joon-ho and the cast and crew of the first non-English-language film to win the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ most prestigious award. It also received best director, best original screenplay and best international film.

CJ was the investment distributor of “Parasite,” as it has been for Bong’s past movies “Memories of Murder,” “Mother” and “Snowpiercer.”

In March 2018, CJ’s entertainment unit, CJ ENM, signed an investment agreement worth 12.5 billion won ($10.5 million) with film production company Barunson E&A. CJ Group is also reported to have spent more than 10 billion won on its prepromotional work for the Academy Awards.

The investment decisions for “Parasite” were made by Chairman Lee Jae-hyun and overall operation and management by Vice Chairwoman Lee Mi-kyung, the group said.

Lee Mi-kyung and Kwak Shin-ae, CEO of production company Barunson E&A, accompanied the cast and crew at the awards ceremony, delivering their acceptance speeches on behalf of director Bong and main actor Song Kang-ho. CJ ENM CEO Heo Min-hoi was also present.

In the speech, Lee thanked her brother Jae-hyun, saying, “I’d like to thank my brother, who has been always supporting building our dreams.”

Bong’s seventh feature film is a family satire that depicts the entrenched social class system through the lives of two families, one rich and one poor, with Bong’s trademark humor and suspense.

According to Forbes, theater revenues for “Parasite” from 40 countries around the world amounted to $129 million in 2019. It predicted that the movie would exceed global revenues of $150 million by Sunday, the day of the Oscars.

CJ Group was established in 1996 after separating from Samsung Group, with its foundation from Cheil Jedang. Current chairman Lee Jae-hyun is grandson of late Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul.

Affiliates include CJ Cheil Jedang (food and beverages), CJ Korea Express (logistics), CJ Olive Networks (health and beauty), CJ ENM (entertainment) and CJ CGV (cinemas).

Korean stocks related to the film and CJ Group showed strong performance in the market throughout the day.

CJ ENM closed at 148,300 won -- up 3,400 won, or 2.35 percent -- as it continued a winning streak throughout the day. It peaked at 151,600 won in the afternoon. It is the first time for the company to exceed 150,000 won since Jan. 23. The firm’s stock had plunged amid the fast-spreading new coronavirus.

Aside from CJ ENM, other CJ Group affiliate companies’ stock prices showed a limited range of fluctuation. CJ CGV began low at 28,750 won -- down 250 won, or 0.86 percent, from the previous session. The weak start continued while showing wide fluctuation, but rebounded in afternoon trading to close at 29,250 won.

Meanwhile, Barunson E&A, the production company of “Parasite” and the entertainment division of stationery and restaurant conglomerate Barunson, soared. The strong start continued through the day and it closed at 2,385 won, up 19.25 percent from the previous session. Barunson’s price also rose 29.88 percent by the closing bell.

By Shin Ji-hye & Jie Ye-eun
(shinjh@heraldcorp.com) (yeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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