Documentary Youn Yuh-Jung & Ladies of The Forest
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Ladies of the Forest

Elderly Soon-shim (Youn Yuh-jung) has somehow arrived from her distant planet, and here on earth searches for a mate. She meets a lonely young woman picking greens up in the hills. She, too, is in a mate-locating disposition. The two women rescue a deer from a lusty hunter, whereupon the deer rewards them by pointing them in the direction of a riverbank where two rather fleshy male ‘fairies’ disport themselves.

Kim Cho-hee’s delightful short film is a clever riff on the traditional tale of ‘The Fairy and the Woodcutter’. A woodcutter rescues a deer, the deer directs him to a pond where, having set aside their feathered robes, beautiful fairies enjoy a dip. He seizes a robe and thus captures a supernatural bride. Director Kim, a former producer for Hong Sangsoo, went on to make the award-winning Lucky Chan-sil (2019) with Youn in a rather more serious guise. 

In the wake of Youn Yuh-jung’s Academy Award, national broadcaster KBS put together this stylish tribute. It opens with a series of brief statements from acting and other colleagues present and past. Viewers of the film Canola (2016) may be surprised to see Kim Go-eun, the film’s older Hyeji, looking positively radiant; fans of Minari will meet a very different Han Ye-ri than the exhausted young mother of the film.

The documentary is, however, more than a series of nice-looking talking heads. The KBS team have assembled footage from some of Youn’s work on television. She has had a substantial career on the small screen, from her early portrayal of temptress Hwang Hui-bin back in 1971, to the gentle reality TV of  the recent ‘Yoon’s Kitchen’ and ‘Yoon’s Stay’. Her current role in the TV series Pachinko seems likely to make her television career as internationally recognised as Minari has her contribution to cinema.