SEOUL – “Minari,” a critically acclaimed film about a hard-luck family of Korean immigrants in the United States, was not exactly a commercial blockbuster in South Korea: more than a million people in 54 days of nationwide screenings Saw it
But when one of its stars, Yun Yung-jung, won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress on Monday, the South Korean was delighted not only because it was the first time for a Korean actor, but also because of the recipient.
On Monday morning, South Korean media sent a news flash when Ms. Yun won the Oscar. The cable channels announced plans to screen their previous films. There was an uproar on social media with fans congratulating him.
President Moon Jae-in referred to Ms. Yun’s character in the film, saying, “Her performance helped us relive the memories of our mothers and grandmothers.”
Ms. Yun was the first Asian woman to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress since 1957. But it is her life story – as well as her characters – that resonates her award so deeply in South Korea, especially among women who have struggled for a long time under the country’s male-dominated hierarchy.
Minari is a parsley-like vegetable that is ubiquitous in Korea. It grows anywhere with a smidgen of moisture, including swamps and abandoned rice pedis.
If there is anyone like Minari in the South Korean film industry, it is Ms. Yun.
Long before the Oscars, Ms. Yun’s image as an often unreasonable sensible woman attracted her to the South Koreans. In her 55 years as an actress, she often engaged in any work she could achieve, including Korean soap operas, indie films and reality shows. His success defined the predictions of the male producers who saw him clearly and shook his raspberry voice.
She told a South Korean cable channel, “The producers said they would eat their hats if they made it as an actress.” “Unfortunately, they are dead now.”
For most of her career, Ms. Yun had no choice but to work. He had early success in 1971 films “Woman of fire,” But one of South Korea’s best-known singers, who left acting to marry Young-nam. In the 1970s, she moved to the US, where Mr. Joe tried her career as a gospel singer. The marriage ended in the 1980s.
Ms Yun returned to Seoul at the age of 38 to act again. South Korean society at the time still had deep prejudices against divorced women, forcing her to expel them. With two sons to raise, she said that she does not have the luxury of actresses who have rich husbands and can pick and choose from various roles.
“I did my job to survive and put food on the table,” he told the South Korean TV station in 2009. An actress can do her best work when she is most hungry for cash. When you are hungry, you are most desperate in your work. “
Her versatility landed her roles as female fatale, loving grandmother and even a hillbilly prostitute. When casting for producer “Wife of a good lawyer” (2003), many female actresses reject the role of a woman who has sex with another male, while her husband is mentally ill. Ms. Yun played the role, stating that she could use the money to remodel her living room.
She once played the role of an ardent queen in a Korean soap opera so well that people often cursed when she saw him on the street.
“People like her because they know her life story,” said Huh Yoon, a retired college media professor in Seoul. “When they think of her, they don’t think of the glorious spotlight that is usually associated with film stars, but by a woman who struggles to live life all these years like the rest of the world is.”
Ms. Yun’s global success came when she was offered a role in “Minari”.
As news of her award on Monday morning, fellow actresses and female fans in South Korea flooded social media with her favorite dry humor from Ms. Yong.
“I’m 67 this year and this is my first time turning actress 67 years old, Kim Hi-soo.” Cited Saying so Ms. Yun. “This is our first time in life, so we can’t help but feel regret and hurt.”
Ms. Yun’s Oscar acceptance speech went viral for her distinctive tongue-in-cheek attitude. The award was presented by Brad Pitt, whose production company funded the film. “Mr. C. Brad Pitt, after all, nice to meet you!” He told the American superstar. “Where were you when you were doing the film in Tulsa?”
“Minari” depicts a Korean family struggling to make a living as farmers in rural Arkansas in the 1980s, when many poor Koreans headed to the United States for a better life. This is the second film about Korean at the Academy Awards, directed by Bong Joon Ho, after “Parasite”, which won four Oscars last year.
“Parasite” garnered over 10 million viewers within two months of its release. One of the reasons why “Minari” failed to achieve the same commercial success in South Korea is the 1980s immigrant experience that it quickly fades.
These days, very few Koreans live in the United States, and those who do are usually children from wealthy families who go to study there. This can also change, as Koreans see hate crimes involving Asian-American victims in the United States.
But Ms. Yun struck a chord with South Koreans in her role as Tsunja, a dishonest-loving grandmother in “Minari” who would have moved from South Korea to the United States to take care of her grandchildren is. Her grandson considers Tsunja not “real grandmother” and complains that she “smells like Korea.” They slowly play cards together and form a bond, sharing Mountain Dew, which Sunja thinks is a health drink because it is made from “dew from the mountains”.
“Minari” began collecting awards at film festivals in recent weeks, with fans beginning to call Ms. Yun “Meryl Streep of Korea”. He has done what no other Korean actor or actress has done: While “Parasite” won Best Picture and Best Director, none of its actors were nominated for an Oscar.
During the awards ceremony Sunday night, Ms. Yun said that her true inspiration was her two children. “I would like to thank my two boys who asked me to go out and work,” she said holding her statue.
“This is the result because Mother has worked so hard.”