HomeAAPI ActorsSteven Yeun stars in and produces Korean American immigrant story at Sundance

Steven Yeun stars in and produces Korean American immigrant story at Sundance

Steven Yeun speaking at a panel at San Diego Comic Con International in 2013.
(Photo by Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons)

South Korean immigrant actor Steven Yeun will star in an upcoming film premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Minari will tell the story of a Korean American immigrant family that decides to risk moving to rural 1980s Arkansas in order to start a farm, according to Hollywood Reporter. Seven-year-old David Yi, played by Alan Kim, along with the rest of his family, are forced to adapt and survive in a life different from what they knew on the West Coast.

Yeun, who was born in Seoul and immigrated to Michigan at age five, will star as Jacob Yi, the father who uproots his family to chase the American Dream. He is also the film’s executive producer, according to Hollywood Reporter. Yuen has multiple acting roles under his belt, including AMC’s The Walking Dead, Dreamwork’s Voltron: Legendary Defender, Bong Joon-ho’s Burning, and Netflix’s Okja.

Director and screenwriter Lee Isaac Chung used his childhood experiences growing up on a farm in Lincoln, Arkansas with Korean immigrant parents in his screenplay, Forbes reported. Chung directed Munyurangabo, set and entirely filmed in Rwanda, a story about two boys from rival tribes struggling with friendship and the effects of the Rwandan genocide. The film debuted at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival to much acclaim.

Minari brings in Korean actresses Han Yeri and Youn Yuh-Jong (the latter who appeared in Netflix series Sense8) in their U.S. film debuts, as well as Will Patton, Alan Kim, and Noel Kate Cho.

The film’s producers are Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, and Christina Oh. A24, the studio responsible for Asian American-led film The Farewell starring Golden Globes winner Awkafina, is spearheading this project as well. The Farewell also premiered at Sundance.

Minari will have its world premiere at the Utah-based Sundance Film Festival, which runs from Jan. 23 through Feb. 2.

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