“Minari” director Lee Isaac Chung has repeatedly mentioned — dating all the way back to his film’s premiere at Sundance — how “very personal” this project is to him. Now, the director has shared a collection of family photos that show just how strikingly close to home his film hits.
In a new featurette video exclusive to TheWrap, you can see images of Chung’s family in Arkansas in the 1980s, complete with a boxy farmhouse on wheels, just as in the film. Another photo shows his family riding along on a tractor in an open field, and there’s even a shot of Chung looking shockingly similar to the young actor Alan Kim; colorful outfit and all.
Chung also explained that the film’s title is named for the seeds his grandmother brought over from Korea that helped his family’s farm succeed.
“My dad had a dream to try and start a new type of life,” Chung says in the video. “We planted those seeds in a little creek bed. You see that in the film. Strangely, the minari is what took root and grew and flourished.”
“Minari” is nominated for six Oscars this year, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Score. Steven Yeun is up for Best Actor, while Yuh-Jung Youn, who plays the grandmother joining this American family from Korea, is nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
“I read the script and realized that, wow, it’s a real story, someone has experienced this real thing,” Youn says in the clip.
Despite the success of the Korean film “Parasite” at last year’s Oscars, Chung has pointed out numerous times that “Minari” is an American film, one focused on an American family in rural Oklahoma, even though much of the film is in Korean. Yeun, in particular, felt confident working with a director who had such a strong vision and connection to the material.
“Isaac’s able to access purity and channel it. You feel like you have an incredible leader,” Yeun said in the video. “It is really cool to be a part of something that carves out a larger understanding of what America is and can be.”
Check out the full video here and above.