K-Movie: “Minari is wonderful. Wonderful!”

by Isabel Bang

Minari | 미나리 (2021)

'Minari' is an edible plant that grows near streams in East Asia, known for its ability to root and literally grow anywhere where it can source water. The plant’s ability to endure and survive regardless of how harsh the environment seems somewhat similar to the family portrayed in the Oscar-winning film ‘Minari’ 🏆


The film shows us a Korean immigrant family in 1980s America, with the American Dream that all immigrants had in the days. As one of the first few Asian people to land in the US to settle, struggling was inevitable for the family of four. Despite Jacob’s (Steven Yeon) grand plan to build a vegetable farm for a living at Arkansas, the new family home is just a trailer on wheels which his wife, Monica (Han Ye-Ri), feels darned about. As the parents get busy earning money, Monica’s mother Soon-Ja (Youn Yuh-Jung) flys over to the states to join the family ✈️ - especially to take care of the young son David (Alan Kim), who has an imperfect heart condition. 

For this family who is on the verge of confusion about their identity between Korean and American, Soon-Ja subtly acts as the backbone to hold them together. Her act of bringing along chilli powder and anchovies to America, the most common ingredients of Korean meals, could be representing her role 🇰🇷 Not only that, but Soon-Ja also brings seeds of minari to plant and grow. As she scatters the seeds near the streamside, she explains the plant to his grandson by saying “it grows anywhere, like weeds. So anyone can pick and eat it. Minari is wonderful. Wonderful!” This plant, I believe, represents the early generation of immigrants in the states who would’ve gone through a lot of trials and tribulations to make themselves at home in the foreign country 🌱


After the appearance of Soon-Ja, the movie switches the focus to the relationship between the grandma and her grandson, David. The development of David’s emotion towards his very foreign, yet warmhearted grandmother throughout the movie gets us thinking a lot. I won’t say more, cause this movie is definitely worth watching rather than reading 👀

Also, let’s drop our phones, laptops, and desktops and give a round of applause for Youn Yuh-Jung, Korea’s first-ever Oscar winner! 👏 Youn was awarded Best Supporting Actress at the 2021 Academy Awards and gave us the most iconic speech. She mentions that she “does not believe in competitions,” and that she cannot “win over Glen Close,” an actress that she had been admiring for so many years. She says that all nominees are winners for each of their movies, and acknowledge the great jobs of the fellow nominees. Watch the full acceptance speech here 🎤


Personally, when she opened up her speech by jokingly saying that she forgives everyone who’s been mispronouncing her name, I thought she implied a lot of things. Perhaps one of them was pointing out the lack of foreign actors and actresses being able to stand in those large-scaled film awards. In the Oscar backstage interview, she also mentioned the importance of diversity. In a question that asked her how she felt about different Asian cultures being able to emerge in the film scene, she says that “it’s about time we share different stories.” She tells us that she does not wish to divide up these stories into different categories such as race, gender, etc., saying that “even rainbow has seven colours,” and with all colours together we can make the world “prettier.” 🌈 


I would LOOOVE to blab on and on about Youn and all sixty award nominations she got for Minari, and all her speeches including her hilarious speech on BAFTA, but I’ll probably end up with a thesis-long article 😂 Congratulations to Youn Yuh-Jung once again for her Oscar, and I really do hope to see her touching our hearts in more and more global-scaled films. If obsessed with this lovely actress as much as the rest of the world, read this TMI about Youn Stay - her reality TV Show which was what made me fall in love with her even before Minari!

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