Being more open-minded towards foreign works


Ashley Lee

Recognizing works in new languages can open us up to greater ones.

As I watched BTS receive an award at the Billboard Music Awards for the first time in 2017, I wondered how many non-english speaking works were recognized in the United States. Then I found that BTS was the first Korean artist group to be recognized in American award shows.

When most people with English as their first language think of the word “song” or ”movie”, they automatically think of ones that are in English. When people that have a different first language think of songs or movies, they think about ones in their first language. It seems to be that whenever we think of anything, books, movies, songs, etc., we think of ones in our language first because of biases towards languages that are not familiar to us.

In February 2020, many of those who are interested in the movie industry were surprised to see a change in the Academy Awards.  Until then, all nominations and winners for the Oscars Best Picture category were English films. At the 2020 Academy Awards, the language barrier was somewhat broken down. The movie chosen for the Best Picture category was not an American movie, but a Korean one: “Parasite”. 

Although the language barrier can be difficult to overcome, that does not mean we should set biases against different languages.

Although “Parasite” is one of the movies that are well known, some of the other submitted movies were well known in their own countries too. For example, movies like “Taxi Driver, “Train to Busan”, and “The Wailing” were submitted because they were very popular movies in Korea. However, only “Taxi Driver” was nominated, and the other movies that were worth watching were not

Joanne Cheong, a freshman at DVHS, says, “I think most people in the US understand the US culture and [the English] language better so they only watch theirs, but some people just pretend not to [care] because they’re biased about different races.” 


On November 24, 2020, Korean boy group BTS wrote history by being nominated for the 63rd Grammy Awards. Out of the seven categories they submitted for, one of which was Record of the Year, the Grammys opened the way with a nomination for the Best Pop Duo/Performance. It was a great accomplishment to be the first K-pop artist to be nominated for a Grammy, and some of the Korean netizens thought that this was a necessary change to include more talented foreign artists. 

While it is an amazing accomplishment, many of the group’s fans were upset that they were only nominated to one out of the seven submitted categories. ARMYs (BTS fans) thought that BTS was “robbed” of nominations because they believed that selling over four million copies of albums and setting a new record of 101.1 million views in 24 hours was enough to be nominated for the record of the year. 

 “I think foreign works, specifically Korean ones, deserve the attention they have been getting from American [award] shows because they proved themselves to be outstanding in their work even though they’re from Korea, which some people in the US  are stereotypical of,” Cheong said “It’s like the United States sort of approved of their talent.” 

Although the language barrier can be difficult to overcome, that does not mean we should set biases against different languages. Opening up to ones that are truly worth the attention is much more important than finding the good ones out ones that are more familiar. As Director Bong, the head director of “Parasite”, said in his acceptance speech at the Oscars, “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.