[PICK] Youn Yuh Jung’s 6 Best Films

Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

Recently, actress Youn Yuh Jung became the first Korean to win the Oscars for Best Supporting Actress. Since then, she has been the hottest topic. Everything about her makes headlines, including her candid and witty talks. Not to mention that she is a fantastic person in real life. And going through the countless movies and TV shows that she appeared in during the past 55 years will help you dive into her charms.


Woman of Fire (1971)

The actress has a great affection for the movie, which she displayed in her acceptance speech at the Academy Awards by paying tribute to the movie’s director, the late Kim Ki Young. Woman of Fire is Youn’s debut film. The actress plays Myung Ja, a housekeeper who moves to Seoul and gets hired from a wealthy household. The film follows a series of events that happen when she has an abortion after the master of the house impregnates her. At that time, it shocked the audience with its groundbreaking filming method, unconventional storytelling, and unique mise-en-scene. Youn, who was only a rookie actress, won the Best Actress Award at the Daejong Award, the Blue Dragon Film Award, and Sitges Film Festival for her eerie performance with madness.


A Good Lawyer’s Wife (2003)

Credit: Cheongeoram

A Good Lawyer’s Wife is Youn’s comeback film. At the time of its release, the movie drew attention with its provocative setting – the entire family is cheating on each other. It vividly describes the various affairs of a dysfunctional family, capturing the increasingly personalized modern household. Youn played a woman who becomes honest with her physical desires and feelings after meeting her elementary school classmate. She was also the cool mother-in-law who proudly reveals her affair to her and her daughter-in-law. The actress has continued to build her friendship with director Im Sang Soo since then. The two have joined hands for works like The President’s Last Bang, The Old Garden, The Housemaid, The Taste of Money, Intimate Enemies, and the upcoming movie Heaven: To the Land of Happiness.


Boomerang Family (2013)

Credit: CJ Entertainment

This film is based on the novel of the same name by Cheon Myeong Kwan. It centers around three misfit siblings who decided to move back in with their mother. The first son Han Mo is an immature unemployed man. The younger son In Mo is the director who recently faced a box office flop. The youngest daughter Mi Yeon found new love yet again after two divorces. She has a middle schooler daughter, Mi Kyung, who resembles her mother. Now, the mother’s old house has no time for silence as these three siblings and the nephew go up against each other about everything. There is a famous line, “Family is all about living, eating, crying, and laughing together.” Like the line, Youn adds depth to the unique family movie by taking on the role of a mother who embraces her immature kids.


Salut D’Amour (2014)

Credit: CJ Entertainment

It’s a rare Korean film that captures the love of the elders with warm emotions. Sung Chil is a grumpy old gentleman who is straitlaced. But one day, he meets his new neighbor Geum Nim, who always has a bright smile on her face. The film illustrates their heart-fluttering romance. Park Geun Hyung and Youn Yuh Jung, who has a combined acting career of 100 years, turn into the main characters of the extraordinary love story. Park becomes the romanticist that he never portrayed before, while Youn turns into a warm and friendly old lady. These two actors express a man and a woman in love instead of being someone’s fatherly or motherly figure.


The Bacchus Lady (2016)

Credit: CGV Arthouse

It is Youn’s third film with director E J-Yong since the two first met through Actresses. The film depicts the life of an elderly sex worker, called the “bacchus lady.” It deals with the harsh reality and death which lonely, sick, and poor older adults face every day. This 65-year-old woman, So Young, is known for “doing it so well she can almost kill you.” Despite her work, she took the Kopino boy into her home and lived a harmonious life with her neighbors. One day, her past regular client begs her to kill him, and she falls into the world of chaos.

The movie directly deals with those who are alienated. And yet, it depicts it as a story with laughter and tears without caving into the weight of the subject. Youn calmly portrays how So Young decides to help someone’s suicide and makes the audience accept her complicated character.


Lucky Chan-sil (2019)

Credit: Challan Film

This is her second time working with director Kim Cho Hee after the short film Ladies of the Forest. Film producer Chan Sil was always loaded with works, but one day, she’s suddenly unemployed. To make a living, she begins to work as a cleaning lady in her friend Sophie’s house. The movie conveys warm sympathy and comfort through Chan Sil, who always leads her own life in her own thoughts and ways, even in the face of a crisis. Youn plays Grandmother Bok Sil, the ower of Chan Sil’s new house, and enlivens the story with her indifferent yet affectionate expressions. “I live today doing what I want to do. But I put heart into it,” she says to Chan Sil. And this line gives a deep echo to the audience as well.


Editor Hong Hyun Jung: K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.

Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.

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