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Youn’s Oscars win tops prestigious acting awards won by Koreans

Actor Moon So-ri attends the 73rd Venice Film Festival as a judge in 2016. She won the Marcello Mastroianni award at the 2002 Venice Film Festival. (C-Jes Entertainment)
Actor Moon So-ri attends the 73rd Venice Film Festival as a judge in 2016. She won the Marcello Mastroianni award at the 2002 Venice Film Festival. (C-Jes Entertainment)

Veteran actor Youn Yuh-jung, 73, opened a new chapter in Korean cinema by becoming the first actor to win the best supporting actress prize at the 93rd Academy Awards on Monday for her role in “Minari.”

She portrays an unconventional Korean grandma Soon-ja who comes to America to look after her two grandkids while Jacob (Steven Yeun) and Monica are (Han Ye-ri) are out working to pursue the American dream in Arkansas.

With the Oscar trophy, Youn has bagged more than 40 trophies at diverse international film awards including the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards and the US Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The Oscar-winning Youn joins four Korean female actors who have won acting awards at prestigious international film festivals. No Korean male actor has won a prize at the three major international film festivals.

In 1987, actor Kang Soo-yeon made history by becoming the first Korean to win the best actress award at the Venice International Film Festival for her role in “The Surrogate Woman” by director Im Kwon-taek. She was also the first Asian to win the award.

Veteran actor Moon So-ri won the Marcello Mastroianni award at 2002 Venice Film Festival for playing a woman with cerebral palsy in “Oasis” directed by director Lee Chang-dong.

The third Korean actor to win a prize from a prestigious international film festival also won for a role in director Lee’s movie. In 2007, Jeon Do-yeon bagged the Cannes Film Festival’s best actress trophy for her role in “Secret Sunshine.” 

A scene from “On the Beach At Night Alone” starring Kim Min-hee (Contents Panda/Finecut)
A scene from “On the Beach At Night Alone” starring Kim Min-hee (Contents Panda/Finecut)

It would be a decade before another Korea actor scored an international prize.

In 2017, Kim Min-hee won Silver Bear for best actress prize at the Berlin International Film Festival for her role in “On the Beach at Night Alone” by director Hong Sang-soo.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)
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