Minari's Youn Yuh-jung Says Anti-Asian Violence Caused Her Son to Feel 'Scared' as She Travels to Oscars
South Korean actress Youn Yuh-jung could make history as the first Asian person to win a Best Supporting Actress Oscar but some of her excitement has dimmed amid rising attacks against Asians in the U.S.
Youn, who plays the indomitable matriarch in Lee Isaac Chung's Minari, revealed in an interview with Deadline that her family has been fearful of her traveling into the country to attend the Oscars on Sunday, April 25.
"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," Youn, 73, said. "He asked, 'Don't you need to have some guard or something like that?'"
His fear, and the attacks on Asians, is "a sad thing," she said. "Just because you are Asian, there's no reason to be attacked randomly like that."
Youn added the issue is not just in America.
"I think [violence against Asians happens] all the across the world," she said. "I think that the world is changing."
In March, a deadly shooting across three Atlanta-area massage parlors left eight people dead.
The victims of the shooting have since been identified as Soon Chung Park, 74, Hyun Jung Grant, 51, Suncha Kim, 69, Yong Ae Yue, 63, Delaina Ashley Yuan, 33, Paul Andre Michels, 54, Xiaojie Yan, 49, and Daoyou Feng, 44. The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, 21, has been arrested and charged with eight counts of murder and one count of assault in connection with the shooting.
Several Hollywood stars have spoken out against the violent attacks centered on the Asian community, including South Korean boy band BTS, Sandra Oh, Eddie Huang, Ashley Park, Jamie Chung, Olivia Munn, Oscar-nominated director Chloé Zhao as well as non-Asian stars such as Mark Ruffalo, Cardi B, Joey King, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Pharrell Williams and Megan Thee Stallion.
In March, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino analyzed data that showed hate crimes against Asian Americans rose by nearly 150% in 2020, despite hate crimes overall dropping by 7%.
It found the first surge in violence against Asian Americans came last year, as COVID-19 cases started to spike in March and April.
The findings show that New York City saw the largest increase in anti-Asian hate crimes, rising from 3 reported instances in 2019 to 28 in 2020.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.
Youn, who has already made history as the first South Korean actress ever nominated for an Oscar in the Best Supporting Actress category, is set to make history again if she wins on April 25.
The actress told Deadline being the first South Korean actress nominated is "very stressful."
"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," she said. "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."
The 93rd Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, April 25 starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC.
If you've been attacked or have witnessed an attack, please contact your local authorities. You can also report your incident here. To learn more and to report crimes, go to: Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Stop the AAPI Hate, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, and Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council.