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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on April 27)

07:19 April 27, 2021

Youn rewrites film history with acting Oscar

Actress Youn Yuh-jung won the best supporting actress Oscar, Sunday, becoming the first Korean to snatch an Academy Award in the acting category. She was given the award for her role as the unconventional grandmother Soon-ja in "Minari." We extend heartfelt congratulations to Youn as she has rewritten Korean movie history and become recognized as a global star.

Youn winning the acting award is very special as it is the first of its kind for Koreans. Korean director Bong Joon-ho made history at last year's Academy Awards with his black comedy "Parasite," which won four Oscars, including best picture and best director. Yet his film had no acting nominees. Youn also deserves acclaim for her relentless passion and activities despite her age of 73.

With this, the actress has helped enhance the global prestige of the Korean film industry as well as her own individual fame. It is much-needed good news for Koreans who are increasingly tired of the persistent COVID-19 pandemic. The movie "Minari," which refers to the plant that can grow in hostile conditions, is the story of a Korean immigrant family who settle in rural Arkansas. Youn's character Soon-ja serves as a facilitator for family resilience in their bid to realize their American dream.

Youn defeated other famous actresses including Glenn Close in "Hillbily Elegy" and Maria Bakalova in "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm," and became the second Asian woman to win the prize following Miyoshi Umeki of Japan in the 1957 movie "Sayonara." She is also the third oldest actress to get an acting Oscar after Peggy Ashcroft for "A Passage to India'' filmed in 1985 when she was 77 and Josephine Hull for "Harvey'' in 1951 when she was 74.

Lee Issac Chung, a Korean-American who wrote and directed the movie, said he regarded Youn as a treasure, describing her as a real genius who brought out her best in the role. Chung himself was nominated for best director and best original screenplay this year for the movie which is based on his childhood story.

Youn shone in the ceremony at Union Station in Los Angeles, Calif., with her witty comments. She spoke to Brad Pitt, who presented the award, "Mr. Brad Pitt, finally, nice to meet you. Where were you when we were filming?" Pitt's Plan B Entertainment produced "Minari." Reminding viewers that many people around the world have incorrectly pronounced her name, she said, "Tonight you are all forgiven."

"Minari" has echoed across the United States at a time when a series of assaults on Asian Americans have occurred amid the persisting coronavirus pandemic. U.S. Congressman Andy Kim, an ethnic Korean, tweeted, "Congrats to Yuh-jung Young and thanks to @MinariMovie for bringing to life a beautiful character that embodies the love and care and strength of Korea American families."

"Minari" has won some 100 awards in diverse world cinema festivals and events and 30 of them were acting awards for Youn. We hope the jubilant event will serve as stimulus and lift the spirits of Korean society.

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