Minari director calls rise in attacks on Asian Americans ‘disturbing’

Keiran Southern, PA Los Angeles Correspondent
·3-min read

Minari director Lee Isaac Chung described the rise in attacks against Asian Americans as “disturbing”.

The filmmaker is Oscar-nominated for Minari, a semi-autobiographical drama following a South Korean family’s pursuit of the American Dream in rural Arkansas in the 1980s.

The film is up for best picture at the Academy Awards as well as nominations for its screenplay, score and the performances of stars Steven Yeun and Yuh-Jung Youn.

Minari’s awards season success comes against the backdrop of a spike in attacks against Asian people in America, with activists saying incidents are often linked to rhetoric blaming victims for the spread of Covid-19.

Joe Biden has condemned the violence as “un-American” and said “it must stop”.

Chung, who was born in Denver, Colorado, to parents from South Korea, said he was “disheartened” by the rise in attacks.

He told the PA news agency: “It’s honestly been very… I don’t even know the word for it. It’s definitely disturbing. To me, it’s always community. I just feel like we as a community, we have each other, is maybe the way I would say it. We have each other and we have each other’s backs. And I think everybody feels that way.

“And let’s just hope that this passes in some way and it really reflects the work we all have to do as a country, to not let difficult times turn into scapegoating.

“We’ve been on the bad end of that many times in history.”

Minari
Alan Kim stars in Minari, a family drama about the American Dream (Josh Ethan Johnson/A24/PA)

Chung, who was speaking before last week’s shooting in Georgia in which eight people – including six women of Asian descent – were killed, added: “I have nothing even wise to say about it. I just am disheartened by it and want to say we’ve got each other’s backs.”

Minari is partially inspired by 42-year-old Chung’s own upbringing.

It follows The Walking Dead star Yeun’s character as he moves his family to the countryside to chase his dream of running a farm.

South Korean actress Han Ye-ri stars as Yeun’s on-screen wife while their two children are portrayed by Noel Kate Cho and Alan Kim.

Youn stars as the shrewd grandmother who joins the family from Korea.

Chung said it has been a challenge to know how much of his personal life to divulge after using his family history as inspiration for the script.

He told PA: “I realise there’s a lot about my life I haven’t talked about from that time. And that’s been sometimes emotionally challenging and difficult. It’s been difficult to know how much to divulge.

“That aspect of it is all very new to me and to my family as well. Because there’s bit more of a spotlight on my parents in Korea and on my sister. So we’re all trying to figure that out.”

Minari will be released in the UK on April 2. For more information on the movie visit minari.film