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Actor Youn clarifies her name in a witty speech at Academy Awards

Youn Yuh-jung poses for photos after winning the best supporting actress award at 93rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, on Sunday. (Reuters-Yonhap)
Youn Yuh-jung poses for photos after winning the best supporting actress award at 93rd Academy Awards in Los Angeles, on Sunday. (Reuters-Yonhap)

Oscar winner Youn Yuh-jung showed her witty and candid personality in her acceptance speech for the best supporting actress award at the 93rd Academy Awards, mentioning how her name has been mispronounced in different ways.

“As you know I am from Korea, and my name is Yuh-jung Youn, and most European people call me Yuh-young, and some of them call me Yoo-jung, but tonight you are all forgiven,” Youn said in the beginning of her speech in English, evoking laughter from the audience.

As soon as she came to the stage to accept the award, she expressed excitement at meeting Brad Pitt in person. Pitt had announced the winner of the best supporting actress award.

“Mr. Brad Pitt, finally, nice to meet you. Where were you while we were filming in Tulsa? It is pretty honored to meet you,” Youn said smiling and jokingly taunting Pitt, who was an executive producer for “Minari.”

She expressed gratitude to “Minari” family that includes co-stars Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, Noel Kate Cho and Alan Kim as well as Lee Isacce Chung, the director of the film. “Without him, I can’t be here,” Youn said about the Korean American director.

At the end of the speech, Youn provoked laughter again, expressing thanks to her two sons who motivated her to work.

“I‘d like to thank my two boys who make me go out and work hard. This is the result because mommy works so hard,” the 73-year-old actress said, holding up the trophy. When Youn’s marriage to well-known singer Cho Young-nam ended in a divorce after 13 years, Youn raised the two sons as a single mother.

The actor who has a 50-year career in film showed respect to other nominees in the category. “I don’t believe in competition. How can I win over Glenn Close? I have watched so many performances. All five nominees are winners for different movies,” she said.

In a backstage press interview, she elaborated on her thoughts about competition in the film awards again, saying it is meaningless as “different movies and different roles” are compared in awards.

“I don’t believe in competition, especially in our field,” she told the press. “I am just lucky tonight, luckier than the other nominees.”

After the awards, she talked about how acting, for her, began with a “sense of inferiority,” as had neither formal training in acting nor majored in acting in college.

"I knew my shortcomings and I desperately memorized the scripts. ‘Never cause damage to anyone,’ that was the start of my acting. I knew I had to be desperate because I acted for a living,” she said during a press conference held at the Korean Consulate General in Los Angeles after the awards ceremony. 

As for her next plan, Youn declined to promise anything, saying nothing will change after winning the award. 

“Just because I won an Oscar, it does not mean Youn Yuh-jung has become Kim Yuh-jung,” she jokingly said. “I have a resolution that I have held at my heart for a long time. It is difficult to memorize all scripts as I am now old, but I will die doing my best as long as I do not cause damage (making films).”


By Park Yuna (yunapark@heraldcorp.com), Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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