Classmates, teachers, react to local filmmaker winning Golden Globe

KNWA

"It's amazing how it went."

LINCOLN, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Northwest Arkansas-based film gets national buzz after winning a Golden Globe.

The director, Lee Isaac Chung, is from Lincoln.

The film is a semi-autobiographical story based on Chung’s life — featuring a family of South Korean immigrants building a life in rural Arkansas.

It touches home for sure.

SAM PAK, LEE ISAAC CHUNG’S COUSIN

KNWA/FOX 24 spoke to some of Chung’s classmates and family members who shared what they took from the film.

‘Minari’ set in Lincoln, Arkansas, tells the story of director Lee Isaac Chung, who immigrated to America with his family in the 1980’s.

Isaac is my cousin on my mom’s side and Steven Yuen is my brother-in-law. He is married to my sister.

SAM PAK, LEE ISAAC CHUNG’S COUSIN

Sam Pak, who lives in Northwest Arkansas, told KNWA/FOX 24 the movie is spot on to what his family went through but he said the film can resonate with anyone who watches.

COURTESY OF SAM PAK

“You don’t have to be Korean; you don’t have to be American, this movie transcends cultures, and it represents just being in America and trying to make it here,” Pak said.

Recently the movie won Best Foreign-Language at the Golden Globes.

JOHNNY WILLIAMS

This recognition comes as no surprise to a former high school teacher of Chung’s, Johnny Williams.

“There’s a handful of students that you have in a career that you just know something special is going to happen,” he said. “Lee was one of the ones we really thought would.”

One of Chung’s K-12 classmates at Lincoln, Jennifer Bailey, agrees.

JENNIFER BAILEY

I sent Lee an email and I said I always knew reporters were going to call me to talk about your success. I didn’t know what that was going to look like, but we all knew Lee was going to go out and do great things.

JENNIFER BAILEY, LEE ISSAC CHUNG’S CLASSMATE

Both Williams and Bailey said Chung is someone the town of Lincoln is proud to call one of their own.

“We’ve never had anything like this, in this little bitty town, at all,” Williams said.

Especially since he shares a story most of us can all relate to.

“It brings light to the importance of family, regardless of the hard times and how they make it through,” Pak said.

COURTESY OF IVAN HUFFMASTER

It shows hope. Minari shows hope.

SAM PAK, LEE ISAAC CHUNG’S COUSIN

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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