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S. Korean film industry people shine at Oscars for second year in a row

All News 12:01 April 26, 2021

By Kim Boram

SEOUL, April 26 (Yonhap) -- About a year ago, few South Koreans likely imagined they would see their compatriots receive awards at the Oscars, one of the world's most prestigious cinema award shows, for two years in a row.

But it really happened in 2020 and 2021.

At the 93rd Academy Awards held both at Union Station and Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday (U.S. time), veteran actress Youn Yuh-jung became the first South Korean actress to ever win an acting Oscar in her country's 102-year cinema history.

She captured the best supporting actress title for her role as the grandmother in the immigration film "Minari," written and directed by Korean American Lee Isaac Chung.

She also became the second Asian actress to win the best supporting actress title after Japanese actress Miyoshi Umeki from 1957's "Sayonara."

Moreover, the 73-year-old thespian is the third-oldest actress to win in the category in the 93-year history of the Academy Awards, following Peggy Ashcroft, who was 77 years old when she was honored for "A Passage to India" in 1985, and Josephine Hull, 74, for "Harvey" in 1951.

In this photo captured from the 2021 Oscars website, South Korean actresses Youn Yuh-jung (L) and Han Yeri (R) of the immigrant film "Minari" arrive to attend the Oscars at Union Station in Los Angeles on April 25, 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE)

Even in the run-up to the Oscars, Youn's every step has been unprecedented.

For her turn as the untraditional, foulmouthed grandmother in "Minari," a project made by Korean Americans including director Chung and actor Steven Yeun, she has attracted acclaim and critics' awards, including one from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

At the U.S. Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards on April 4, she was named the winner of Outstanding Performance By a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, becoming the first South Korean actor to win the individual acting category in the awards given by Hollywood actors.

South Korean Youn Yuh-jung poses for photographers after winning best actress in a supporting role for "Minari" at the 93rd Oscars on April 25, 2021, in this AP photo. (Yonhap)
In this UPI photo taken on Jan. 19, 2020, the cast of Bong Joon-ho's "Parasite" poses after winning the award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards. (Yonhap)

Last year, the cast of the Oscar-winning "Parasite" clinched SAG's top prize, Outstanding Performance by a Cast, or best ensemble, but none of the actors were even nominated in other acting categories.

At this year's British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards, Youn also became the first Koran actor to take home the best supporting actress prize. "Parasite" got BAFTA's best foreign-language film prize last year.

In this EPA photo taken on Feb. 9, 2020, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho accepts the Oscar for Best International Feature Film for "Parasite" during the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony. (Yonhap)

Before Youn, auteur Bong Joon-ho made history at last year's Academy Awards for his critically acclaimed black comedy "Parasite."

His film crashed through the "one-inch barrier" of subtitles by winning four Oscars: best picture, best director, best original screenplay and best international feature film.

Bong's seventh feature film made history as the first foreign-language film to win the Oscar's grand prize in the event's history.

And "Parasite" became the first Asian-made movie to hoist multiple Oscar trophies.

It is also the second subtitled movie to capture the best directing and best international feature film prizes at the same time, following Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma" the previous year.

Moreover, Bong is the second Asian director to win the Academy's best directing award, after Taiwan's Ang Lee for "Brokeback Mountain" (2005) and "Life of Pi" (2012), and is the first Asian writer to be awarded best original screenplay for his non-English script.

Bong also attended this year's Academy Awards as a presenter.


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