Each year, TIME magazine publishes a list of 100 people who are considered the most influential of the year. It’s no easy feat to end up on this list, as all of those that are chosen are said to have changed the world in some way or another, regardless of the consequences.
This year, there are 5 categories in the Top 100 Most Influential People list: Pioneers, artists, leaders, titans, and icons. There are all kinds of people included among the list, from entertainers like Megan Thee Stallion, Selena Gomez, and Halsey (who was actually nominated by BTS!) to leaders and political figures like Anthony Fauci, Jo Biden, and Nancy Pelosi.
This year, two Korean influencers were included on the list: one an artist, and one a leader.
The first is film director Bong Joon Ho, who was nominated by actress Tilda Swinton. Of course, he became a household name this year after the extreme success of his movie Parasite, which ended up winning 4 Oscars and becoming the first South Korean film to win Best Picture.
— i’m not here ⁷ (@lindsrainbolt) February 10, 2020
It won many other awards besides that, and Bong Joon Ho’s success was seen as South Korea’s success, bringing pride and honor to the nation. Here’s what Tilda Swinton had to say about him:
This is the filmmaker who, this year, has risen into the 2020 vision of the entire cinepassionate planet like a new sun. Whip-smart, highly skilled, supremely cineliterate, exuberant, irreverent, self-determining, deeply romantic, with a voracious delight in the absurd, highly principled, precision-tuned, compassionate to the last: his films have always been all this. It just seems to be time for the world to catch up.
She also speaks highly of him as a person, emphasizing that he’s “sweet-hearted, loyal, amused, cozy, playful, sincere, especially hilarious when in his cups, fiercely familial, gloriously silly, unfailingly kind. Diamond.” There’s no doubt that he deserved to be on TIME‘s list this year!
The second Korean name on the list is one that fewer people will likely recognize, but was nominated by South Korean president Moon Jae In himself: Jung Eun Kyeong.
Jung Eun Kyeong is the commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), and has been one of the leaders in the country’s response to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Through her frequent and transparent updates to the public about the virus, giving clear guidelines on how to help prevent the spread, and showing unwavering leadership and dedication to the fight against the novel coronavirus, Eun Kyeong helped the nation to have some of the lowest case numbers and fatalities despite how early on the virus came to South Korea.
President Moon had this to say about the heroic figure:
Bernard Rieux in Albert Camus’ The Plague says, ‘The only way to fight the plague is with decency.’ I believe Commissioner Jung’s decency and dedication are indeed a story worth telling—one that will serve as an inspiration for the many Commissioner Jungs around the world desperately fighting COVID-19, and for humanity as we advance toward the post-COVID-19 era.
It’s wonderful to see these two icons recognized for the work they’ve done in the world, even though their influences have been vastly different.