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‘Minari’ bought me a lot of gifts, says Youn Yuh-jung  

‘Minari’ bought me a lot of gifts, says Youn Yuh-jung  

Posted April. 05, 2021 08:41,   

Updated April. 05, 2021 08:41


“People hated me when I got divorced and returned to Korea after spending nearly ten years raising two children in the U.S. The audience would call and say, ‘She is a divorcée. She shouldn’t be on television.’ Now they like me very much. That’s very strange, but that’s human.”  

Actress Youn Yuh-jung (74, Photo) who was nominated for best supporting actress at the 98th Academy Awards to be held on April 25 for her turn as the grandmother in Minari said in a video interview with the New York Times published on Friday (local time). “[T]here was an effortless grace to her serene presence. […] Occasionally she asked a friend off-camera for help with certain English words to hit each point more precisely,” reported the NYT about her who played the role of Sunja in Minari.  

When she was a teenager in the early 1960s, a moderator for a children’s game show saw her touring a TV station and invited her to pass out gifts to the audience. She became an actress for TV shows after that. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t know what acting was,” she said. “I tried to memorize the line and do whatever they asked me to do. At the time I didn’t know if I was enjoying it or if I disliked it.”  

Yoon recalled that she was able to focus on the work with those she trusted after she was unburdened from the education cost for her two sons in her 60s. To put her two sons through college, she had to accept parts almost indiscriminately. “I didn’t go to acting school and I didn’t study film, so I had an inferiority complex,”Yoon said. “I practiced so hard when I got a script.”

“At the time I was suffering with only small roles and most people hated me. I thought about just quitting or going back to the States.” But she’s a survivor, she added. “I’m still alive and finally enjoying acting.”

Taek Kyoon Sohn sohn@donga.com