Youn Yuh-Jung is a Korean actress best known internationally for her work in the Oscar-nominated film Minari (2020). She has been acting for over 50 years and is well known in South Korea. Some of her best known work in South Korea includes the feature films The Housemaid (2010), The Taste of Money (2012) and The Bacchus Lady (2016).
Youn was born in Kaesong, Gyeonggi Province, and grew up in Seoul, South Korea. During her freshman year at Hanyang University, where she was studying Korean language and literature, she passed an open audition held by Korean broadcasting company TBC. She then dropped out of college to make her acting debut on the television series, Mister Gong (1967).
By 1971, she made her feature film debut in the film Woman of Fire (1971), playing Myeong-Ja. Her work in the film earned her a Best Actress award at the Sitges Film Festival. She also received the Best New Actress award at the Grand Bell Awards.
At the peak of her career, she left South Korea to live in America. Years later, she would return to Korea to stay permanently and continue her acting career.
She made a strong comeback in her return to South Korean film with performances in critically acclaimed films such as A Good Lawyer's Wife (2003), in which she played a mother-in-law who neglected her dying husband to enjoy extramarital affairs; The Housemaid (2010), playing a live-in maid and The Taste of Money (2012), playing a cruel heiress.
She received awards and nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress for her work on all three films, with her work on The Housemaid earning the most praise.
Most recently, she starred in the American film Minari (2020) in the role of Soonja, a grandmother of a Korean family now living in America. The film was met with critical acclaim, and Youn's performance received tremendous praise. She earned a number of awards and nominations for Best Supporting Actress from institutions such as the Critics Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild, British Academy Film Award and the Academy, making her the first Korean actress to be nominated for those awards. She won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award, which was presented to her by Brad Pitt at the Oscars on April 25, 2021. Her acceptance speech was one of the highlights of the 93rd Oscars, as she joked about being thrilled to finally meet Brad Pitt, and told her fellow nominees that she must have been luckier than them because she won. She was one of the few to travel to America to attend the awards show, which only allowed nominees and presenters to be in the small gathering.
In 1975, she married South Korean singer, Jo Young-nam. The two of them were divorced in 1987, three years after her return to South Korea. ~Sean Olegario
Beasts Clawing at Straws (2020)
Lucky Chan-sil (2019)
Keys To The Heart (2018)
The Bacchus Lady (2016)
Right Now, Wrong Then (2015)
Salut d’Amour (2015)
Ja-yu-eui eon-deok (2014)
Boomerang Family (2013)
In Another Country (2012)
The Taste of Money (2012)
The Housemaid (2010)
Hwang Jin Yi (2007)
The Old Garden (2006)
Maundy Thursday (2006)
The President’s Last Bang (2005)
A Good Lawyer’s Wife (2003)
Be a Wicked Woman (1995)
Woman Requiem (1985)
Love and Hatred (1973)
Insect Woman (1972)
Woman of Fire (1971)