Actor Lee Byung-hun and soprano Sumi Jo attended the 88th Academy Awards, with Lee becoming the first Korean actor to present an award at the Oscars.
Lee, a widely recognized star in Korea, has appeared in a number of Hollywood movies, including the “G.I. Joe” series, “RED 2” and “Terminator Genisys.”
Standing next to Lee at the award presentation for the category of foreign language films was Colombian actress Sofia Vergara, best known for her role in the sitcom “Modern Family.”
Lee Byung-hun (left) and Jo Su-mi on the red carpet at the 88th Academy Awards in Los Angeles. (Yonhap)
Lee’s invitation to present at the Academy Awards is considered an important milestone for the actor, who suffered a slump last year in the aftermath of a personal blackmail scandal. Late last year, he redeemed himself in the public eye with his excellent performance in the hit film “Inside Men,” followed by the announcement of the Oscar presentation.
The fact that Lee presented at the Oscars this year, when the awards had been criticized for excluding minorities, is also significant. In addition to Lee and Vergara, this year’s list of presenters included Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, British actor Dev Patel and numerous African-American names, including Kerry Washington and Whoopi Goldberg -- a diverse list in stark contrast to the all-white nominees in the major awards categories, stirring suspicions that the racially diverse list of presenters was meant to quell some of the anger over the “#OscarsSoWhite” controversy.
Lee Byung-hun poses for press at the 88th Academy Awards in Los Angeles. (Yonhap)
This year also saw a nomination for best original song for David Lang’s “Simple Song #3” on the soundtrack of Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth,” performed by Jo. Although Korean fans had been looking forward to seeing the coloratura soprano perform on the Oscars stage, she was not able to reach an agreement with the ceremony’s organizers to cut the 6-minute song into a shorter format.
Meanwhile, The Weeknd, Lady Gaga and Sam Smith performed other songs nominated for the award at the ceremony.
By Won Ho-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org