“I feel like an Olympic”: NPR


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Yoon Ye Jung plays the granny in the Oscar-nominated movie Under threat. She is the first Korean actress to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Courtesy of A24


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Yoon Ye Jung plays the granny in the Oscar-nominated movie Under threat. She is the first Korean actress to be nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Courtesy of A24

Yoon Yoh Jung is a founder of Korean cinema. Her career spans over five decades and includes starring roles in classic Korean films and popular TV dramas. Now, aged 73, she has gained new fame in the United States for her role in the Oscar-nominated film the threat.

Yoon was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first South Korean woman to be nominated for an Academy Award in the acting category.

“This never happened in Korea, and I feel like I’m an Olympic player competing for my country,” Yoon told NPR on a call from her home in Seoul. “It’s very stressful,” she laughs.

The movie the threat It centers around a Korean-American family who moves to rural Arkansas to start a new life on a farm. Yoon plays Sonja, a grandmother who travels from South Korea to look after her two young grandsons.

“That character Sunga – she’s not a typical grandmother,” Yoon says. Sunga is loving and light-hearted, but she’s also hurtful. She swears up, watches pro wrestling, drinks Mountain Dew and shows her grandchildren how to gamble.

“She was a widow – a widow in the Korean War, a single mother and a working mother,” Yoon says of her character. “She likes to have some fun because she’s been through a lot. She’s trying to relax [her family]”.

Sonja develops a special relationship with her young grandson David, played by Alan Kim. But developing a relationship with him takes patience. In David’s mind, Sonja isn’t a “real” grandmother – she shares a room with him and never brings him a cookie. He accuses her of wearing men’s underwear. Sunga is not disturbed. In one scene, she hugs him and looks into his eyes, saying, “Nice boy, beautiful boy.”

In the movie Threats Sonja develops a special relationship with her grandson David, played by Alan Kim.

Josh Ethan Johnson / Courtesy of A24


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In the movie Threats Sonja develops a special relationship with her grandson David, played by Alan Kim.

Josh Ethan Johnson / Courtesy of A24

David intervenes: “I’m not pretty, I’m good looking!” He breaks into his bedroom. Sonja laughs, then returns to TV to watch a wrestling match.

Yoon says that the character of Sunga carries a deeper meaning in her life. While filming, she often thought about her childhood memories of her grandmother.

“It’s a heartbreaking story,” says Yoon. “I was born in 1947, so I was probably three when the Korean War started. After the war, we didn’t have enough water, rice, and nothing. My grandmother died during the war, and my grandmother happened to stay alive until I was nine years old.” age.

Yoon says her family had to ration supplies, and her great-grandmother used the family’s water often. “To me, it was too dirty, or unhealthy. So, I didn’t like it at all. What a stupid thing [to think]”, Says Yoon.” I didn’t like her because she’s not clean, and she always said she wasn’t hungry. She was always skipping lunch. “

As a child, Yoon did not understand that her grandmother was giving up meals so that her family could get more food. “I didn’t know that,” says Yoon. You never said, “I love you,” but I realized, after I turned 60, all of a sudden I thought of my grandmother. Then I realized, “Oh, she was keeping all the food and all the water for us. Every night, I would pray for her because I felt terrified. ”“ Ask her for forgiveness, I was so ignorant. ”

Yoon says she still lives with that guilt, but says that playing the role of Sonja afforded her a chance to come to terms with her painful memories. “I really understood this text, deeply. It connected me. The script was very original and very real to me, and a very real story to me. It was very moving. So, I said,” Well, I’ll do it – no condition. ”


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