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Yuh-Jung Youn received the retrospective treatment from Film at Lincoln Center as the organization presented a virtual program featuring five films paired with an in-depth conversation moderated by the director of programming Dennis Lim.
The virtual event Thursday evening found the veteran star opening up about the creative choices she’s made during 50-plus years in the business, from an affinity for independent film and trusted collaborators to a recent foray into reality TV with a cooking show. Lim made sure to spotlight each of the five films featured in the retrospective — The Bacchus Lady, The Housemaid, Lucky Chan-sil, In Another Country and Minari — while paying special attention to the Oscar-nominated entry from filmmaker Lee Isaac Chung.
Playing a scene-stealing grandmother in Minari opposite Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan Kim and Noel Cho earned Youn a best-supporting actress Oscar nomination, a first for a Korean actress. She also made history by picking up trophies at the recent SAG Awards and BAFTA Awards. During the audience Q&A, Lim said one attendee wanted to know if there was anything Youn forgot to say during her acceptance speech at last weekend’s BAFTAs.
It turns out that the 73-year-old actress did have something more to say: “I’m sorry.”
Youn’s speech went viral for what she says was meant as a compliment but got lost in translation. “I would like to express my deep condolences for your Duke of Edinburgh,” she said during the speech, referencing the death of Prince Philip. “Thank you so much for this award. Every award is meaningful but this one especially [to be] recognized by British people, known as very snobbish people and they approve me as a good actor. So, I’m very, very privileged.”
She said her English caused the misunderstanding and “actually, I admire the British very much,” including their “Shakespeare, Royal Theatre and everything.” She continued by saying that because they have a long history and “big pride,” they deserve to be a bit snobbish. But once it came out, she feared it became a big scandal.
“It got so big and I thought maybe I was doing something wrong,” she added. Youn continued to smooth it over by paying respect to iconic British thespians like Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren (“I love all of them”), and Ian McKellen (“I adore him”).
She followed the compliments with a sincere apology. “Hear me saying this: Oh please, big apology for the British [people]. Hello, Britain, forgive me.”
Lim said hopefully in 10 days or so she’ll have another opportunity to give a speech when the Academy Awards are handed out in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Youn is just hoping for some rest. “I didn’t expect to be having this well-reception in America. So, this is a happy surprise but it’s really tiring…. It’s too much for a 74 years old lady,” explains Youn, who has a birthday in June. “I know why you call it racing or campaigning.”
— HYOL (@hyo_han) April 15, 2021
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