Yuh-Jung Youn
Yuh-Jung Youn
Photo by AFP

Los Angeles: Veteran South Korean star Yuh-jung Youn became the first South Korean actor to win the Oscar for the best supporting actress Oscar for "Minari".

Youn, 73, is the only second Asian woman to win best supporting actress Oscar after Miyoshi Umeki for "Sayonara" (1957).

In true Oscars tradition, Youn was presented her best supporting trophy by last year's best supporting actor winner Brad Pitt on Sunday night.

She emerged a favourite to win in the category only recently by bagging a number of precursor awards ahead of Oscars. She was nominated alongside Amanda Seyfried for "Mank", Maria Bakalova for "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm", Glenn Close for "Hillbilly Elegy", Olivia Colman for "The Father".

Besides wining several accolades back home, the 73-year-old actor has won the Best Supporting Actress trophy at the BAFTA awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Independent Spirit Awards.

In a thriving career for five decades, Youn has acted in several South Korean TV series and films and is one of the most respected stars back home.

She made her acting debut in 1967 with television drama "Mister Gong", she shot to fame with director Kim Ki-young's "Woman of Fire" (1971).

The actor later took a sabbatical from acting after she got married, only to make a comeback to movies with eccentric parts in "A Good Lawyer's Wife", "The Housemaid", "The Taste of Money", "Canola", among others.

In the Lee Isaac Chung-directed drama, which revolved around a South Korean immigrant family of four who move to an Arkansas farm in pursuit of stability, Youn plays an unconventional yet endearing grandmother, Soon-ja.

Her character of halmoni (grandmother in Korean) in "Minari", who arrives in America from South Korea to help her daughter and her family in rural Arkansas and eventually bonds with their young son, David (Alan Kim), won hearts. Her portrayal of Soon-ja in the film helped her become the first Korean actress to win a Screen Actors Guild Award and British Academy Film Award.

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Free Press Journal