Everything to know about historic Oscar nominee ‘Minari’

Steven Yeun and Alan Kim.
Steven Yeun, right, and Alan Kim star in the indie breakout and Oscar-nominated film “Minari.”
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

“Minari,” which scored six Oscar nominations Monday, breaks new ground in its portrayal of a Korean family pursuing the American dream.

Here’s a closer look at the making of the movie and the people who helped shape it.

2021 Oscar nominations: The complete list

March 15, 2021


The historic Oscar nominations

Actor Steven Yeun sits at a table in a dark room
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Steven Yeun made history Monday with his Oscar nomination for his performance as Jacob, a Korean father who moves his family to a rural Arkansas farm during the 1980s. Yeun becomes the first Asian American to be nominated in the lead actor category.


In the directing category, the academy nominated the most filmmakers of Asian descent (Chloé Zhao of “Nomadland” and Lee Isaac Chung of “Minari,” both also nominated for their screenplays). Yeun’s costar Yuh-Jung Youn is also among the nominees for supporting actress.



Why it matters

Steven Yeun stands next to Alan Kim outside.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

“I don’t think a movie like ‘Minari’ has been made before in this context from this country in this situation, so initially I did feel some pressure to service some larger idea of what a Korean father was, because that archetype looms large,” star Yeun told The Times.

“It took me a while to come around to just accept Jacob as simply a human being. But I realized how few examples we have of that. We’re still navigating a business and a career and an art form that doesn’t really have a lot of Asian Americans in it.”


Read Yeun’s full interview >>


The actors

Director Lee Isaac Chung, Yeri Han, Noel Cho, Alan Kim, Steven Yeun and Yuh-Jung Youn of "Minari."
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Meet Alan Kim, the adorable “Minari” star who will steal your heart. His photoshoot with us speaks for itself.

We also spoke at length with Yuh-Jung Youn. “Minari” marks her first movie made in America, after a 50-year career.

She explains why >>


The writer-director

"Minari" writer-director Lee Isaac Chung.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Many have asked how Lee Isaac Chung got the idea to write “Minari.” At the risk of sounding like a mystic or a fool, he set the record straight in a first-person piece for The Times.

Read about his unusual experience>>


The response

Alan Kim and Yuh-Jung Youn in "Minari."

Chung’s moving immigrant drama is a gentle, truthful and tender story of family, writes The Times’ Glenn Whipp.


Read his full review >>


The race

Alan Kim of “Minari.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

In addition to its Oscar nominations, “Minari” also won the Golden Globe for foreign-language film. Yes, it’s American. In case you missed it, catch up on that controversial categorization, as well as our investigation into the voters behind the Golden Globe Awards.

One thing is clear. Kim’s reactions are the best part of this awards season so far.