Yuh-Jung Youn Makes History As First Korean Acting Winner For ‘Minari’

Veteran actress Yuh-Jung Youn made history when she became the first South Korean actress ever to receive an Oscar nomination in the supporting actress category, and again made history tonight as the first Korean ever to win an acting Oscar for her portrayal as the feisty grandma in Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari.

A visibly shocked and somewhat star-struck Yuh-Jung Youn first thanked presenter Brad Pitt, telling him, “I”m so honored to meet you.” When asked backstage if she’d want to work with Pitt, she said “That would never happen with my English and the age, I don’t think so, so I don’t dream the impossible dream.”

Onstage, she thanked members of the Academy “for voting for me,” and a special shout-out to Chung, “Without him I couldn’t be here tonight, he was our captain and my director.”

She also paid tribute to her fellow nominees, saying “I don’t believe in competition. We are the winners for different movies, we played different roles so we cannot compete with each other. Tonight, I’m here because I had a little bit of luck, I think, I”m luckier than you.”

With the win tonight following both SAG and BAFTA award nods, Yuh-Jung Youn also became only the second Asian to win an acting Oscar since Japan’s Miyoshi Umeki, a winner for Sayonara in the same Supporting Actress category at the 1958 Oscar ceremony.

Minari is nominated for six Oscars tonight, including best picture, director for Chung and lead actor for Steven Yeun.

Backstage, the Oscar winner was asked how she felt about seeing different Asian stories told.  “I think it’s about time,” she said. “The sharing different stories is very nice to understand each other, and we should embrace each other, because without knowing our lives, people are categorized like black white yellow brown something like that. That’s not a nice way to divide like that. I think if we put all color together make it more prettier. Even a rainbow has seven colors. So color doesn’t matter, gender doesn’t matter. Men and woman, I don’t like to divide like this, man, woman, or Black and white, yellow, brown or the gender, gay or straight or something like that. I don’t want that kind of thing,” she continued. “We are equal human beings, we have the same warm heart. It’s an opportunity for us to share the story together.

Yuh-Jung Youn beat out fellow nominees Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Glenn Close for Hillbilly Elegy, Olivia Colman for The Father and Amanda Seyfried for Mank.

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