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Korean American director's 'Beef' wins big at 81st Golden Globe Awards

Road-rage Netflix drama nabs best TV series, Steven Yeun and Ali Wong also win best male and female actors

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Jan. 8, 2024 - 14:50

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From left: Actor Steven Yeun, director Lee Sung-jin and actor Ali Wong of From left: Actor Steven Yeun, director Lee Sung-jin and actor Ali Wong of "Beef" attend the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, Sunday. (Reuters-Yonhap)

Korean American director Lee Sung-jin’s road-rage drama on Netflix, “Beef,” won big at the 2024 Golden Globe Awards, which took place in Beverly Hills on Sunday night local time. Along with best TV series, the two lead actors in “Beef” – Steven Yeun and Ali Wong – won the best actor and actress awards, respectively.

The awards marked the first Golden Globes win for both Yeun and Wong.

In his speech after being named Best Male Actor in a Limited Series, Korean American actor Yeun thanked his wife and children, giving a witty reference to Disney animated movie “Frozen.”

“The story I usually tell myself is of isolation and separateness. And then you come up here and you have this moment and you can only just think about everyone else. …And that feels like the plot of ‘Frozen,’” Yeun joked on stage.

“I’m just so thankful. I am just the recipient of a long line of compassionate love and protection and goodwill, so I appreciate this,” he said.

Steven Yeun was named Best Male Actor in a Limited Series at the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, Sunday. (Golden Globes) Steven Yeun was named Best Male Actor in a Limited Series at the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, Sunday. (Golden Globes)

“Beef” also nabbed the Best Television Limited Series, Anthology Series or Motion Picture Made For Television.

Director and writer Lee Sung-jin not only thanked his cast and crew but also gave a special shoutout to the person who inspired the story. “Beef” is based on Lee’s personal experience with a road rage incident.

“I’d be remiss not to thank that driver. Sir, I hope you honk and yell and inspire others for years to come,” he said to the laughter on stage.

Lee, who was born in Korea and raised in the US, has featured many aspects of Korean Americans’ lives in “Beef,” such as a Korean church in Koreatown and Danny (Yeun) using KakaoTalk to call his parents.

The series also stars many other Korean American actors such as Joseph Lee and David Choi.

Netflix’s original 10-part series, “Beef,” was released in April to critical acclaim. The dark comedy follows two strangers, Danny (Yeun) and Amy (Wong), who first encounter each other through a road rage incident, an incident that escalates into a wild, out-of-control feud as they give in to their impulses.

Meanwhile, Korean Canadian filmmaker and playwright Celine Song’s directorial debut, “Past Lives,” which was nominated in five categories at the 81st Golden Globes, failed to win in any.

In the past five or so years, there have been several wins and nominations achieved by Koreans or Korean Americans at the Golden Globe Awards.

Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho won the best foreign language film with “Parasite” in 2020 and Korean American director Isaac Chung won in the same category with “Minari,” starring Steven Yeun, in 2021. Korean actor Oh Young-soo of “Squid Game” was named the best supporting actor last year. In addition, Korean American actors Sandra Oh and Awkwafina won the best actress awards in 2019 and 2020, respectively.