‘Minari’: Going Between English and Korean in the Film Was ‘Scary’ For Steven Yeun

After its festival debut last year, the film Minari has finally been released. Actor Steven Yeun has been earning critical acclaim for the movie, but in an interview, he spoke about one part of the film that was “scary” for him.

Steven Yeun on the red carpet
Steven Yeun | Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

What is the plot of ‘Minari’ and who stars in the film

Minari is a family drama film from director Lee Issac Chung that stars former The Walking Dead star Steven Yeun.

Per A24’s official description of the film:

A tender and sweeping story about what roots us, Minari follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. The family home changes completely with the arrival of their sly, foul-mouthed, but incredibly loving grandmother. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, Minari shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.

Yeun stars in the film with Yeri Han, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Scott Haze, with Yuh-Jung Youn, and Will Patton.

When Minari premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, it won both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award. The film joined an elite group of seven films that have won both the grand jury prize and the audience award. The other films that have done the same are Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station, Lee Daniels’ Precious, and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash.

RELATED: ‘Minari’: How to Watch the Korean Immigrant Drama Dominating Awards Shows

“I wanted to shape the narrative to have different pockets of how this family might not make it, might not survive,” said director Issac Lee Chung in an interview with the Associated Press. “Those were the tensions I was playing with. Each family member kind of has their turn, their shot at growth and maturation. It wasn’t a traditional narrative of one hero but more: How do I make the whole family the hero?”

‘Minari’ was an important story that actor Steven Yeun wanted to tell

Minari is one of the biggest film roles for Yeun since his starring role in Burning. That film was primarily in Korean, but Minari is a mix of both Korean and Englishh. In a W Magazine interview, Yeun spoke about it being “scary” to go back and forth speaking in both languages for a film liike this.

‘Going between languages is always scary for me, especially as someone who’s re-tapping into the Korean language portion of myself,” he said. “But in Burning, the benefit was that I was in Korea, so I was speaking Korean all the time. The difficulty for this one was that tension of living in Oklahoma, speaking English most of your day, and then while you’re on set, just speaking in Korean. So I had a lot of help from wonderful people.”

Overall, the actor hopes that the film presents this sort of universal experience that many people can relate to.

“The beauty of the film, too, is when [director] Lee Isaac Chung and I spoke about it, we really tried not to create any barriers to entry,” Yeun explaniied. “We just examined the humanity of these characters. The culture was just embedded into the movie, and the rest of the things that we talked about or acted in, or showed with the camera from Isaac’s point of view, was like, these human beings trying to live a life. And I think a lot of people can relate to that experience.”

Minari is available everywhere you can rent and download films, as well as select theaters.