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Yuh-Jung Youn: It’s ‘Very Stressful’ Being the First Korean Actress Nominated for an Oscar

As a nominee in the Best Supporting Actress category, Youn said "I feel like I’m competing for my country."

FILE - Yuh Jung Youn poses for a portrait to promote the film "Minari" during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Jan. 27, 2020. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP, File)

Yuh-Jung Youn

Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP

Veteran Yuh-Jung Youn made history this year as the first South Korean actress to be nominated in an acting category at the Academy Awards. She’s up for Best Supporting Actress for her powerful turn in Lee Isaac Chung’s Best Picture nominee “Minari.” But the actress, as told to Deadline in a recent interview, said that representing that position for her country comes with a burden.

When asked what it’s like to be the first Korean actress nominated for an Oscar, she said, “Very stressful.” She added, “I was just very happy being nominated. I never even dreamed about being nominated for an Oscar. People will be very happy for me if I get the win, but it’s very stressful.”

Yuh-Jung Youn has had a winning streak the past month during the awards season, as she won Best Supporting Actress honors at both the BAFTA Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. At the Oscars, she’s up against Maria Bakalova for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” Glenn Close for “Hillbilly Elegy,” Olivia Colman for “The Father,” and Amanda Seyfried for “Mank.”

“It’s not like I’m representing the country by going to the Olympics, but I feel like I’m competing for my country. It’s stressful,” she said.

Youn made headlines out of the BAFTA Awards when she cracked a joke calling British people “very snobbish.”

“Thank you so much for this award,” Youn said during the virtual telecast. “Every award is meaningful, but this one, especially being recognized by British people, known as very snobbish people, and they approve of me as a good actor, so I’m very, very privileged and happy. Thank you so much.”

Youn will be in the United States to attend the Academy Awards on this coming Sunday, April 25. But she said, given the recent wave of anti-Asian violence happening in America, it was not without some trepidation.

She said, “My son, who is Korean American, is living in the States. He was worried about me coming to the States for the Oscars, because he was scared I would get hurt. He asked, ‘Don’t you need to have some guard or something like that?’ It’s a sad thing. Just because you are Asian, there’s no reason to be attacked randomly like that.”

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