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Auteur Park Chan-wook, late actress Kang Soo-youn win 2nd-highest order of cultural merit

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Director Park Chan-wook / Yonhap
Director Park Chan-wook / Yonhap

Korea Popular Culture and Arts Awards honors 28 cultural icons

By Dong Sun-hwa

Cannes-winning filmmaker Park Chan-wook and late actress Kang Soo-youn won the Eungwan Order of Cultural Merit ― the second-highest national order of cultural merit ― at the 2022 Korea Popular Culture and Arts Awards, Thursday. Nobody received the highest order of cultural merit this year.

Hosted and organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in cooperation with Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), the awards ceremony took place at the Haeoreum Grand Theater of the National Theater of Korea (NTOK) in central Seoul. It intends to honor those who have played a pivotal role in facilitating the growth of the nation's culture and arts industry.

Park, who won best director at the 75th Cannes Film Festival in May with his romance thriller, "Decision to Leave," said he would continue to delve deeper into the themes of human beings and the world.

"Since my films often do not depict our country and people as beautiful and respectful entities, I am not sure if I deserve this prize," the "Oldboy" (2003) director said in his video acceptance speech. "But I believe it is an artist's duty to portray human beings and society as they are. I think this award has recognized my efforts to do so. Thus, I will continue to thoroughly explore our world and people."

Actress Kang Soo-youn / Korea Times file
Actress Kang Soo-youn / Korea Times file

Kang Soo-kyung, the younger sister of Kang Soo-youn, who died of a cerebral hemorrhage at age 55 in May, accepted the award on behalf of her sister.

"As I came here, I recalled the day when my older sister clinched the Okgwan Order of Cultural Merit ― the fourth-highest of its kind ― in 1987," she said. "I wonder what it would have been like if she had been here today. This year marks the 53rd anniversary of her debut. I hope she remembers that a lot of people have recognized her hard work over such a long time."

Kang, who debuted as a child actress at age 3, became the first Asian actor to notch the best actress award at the Venice International Film Festival in 1987 with the movie, "The Surrogate Womb." Some of her major hits include, "Come, Come, Come Upward" (1989) and "The Road to Race Track" (1991).

K-pop act Tomorrow X Together (TXT) / Courtesy of Big Hit Music
K-pop act Tomorrow X Together (TXT) / Courtesy of Big Hit Music

The Bogwan or the third-highest honor, went to "Broker" (2022) actor Song Kang-ho, among others. K-pop boy band Tomorrow X Together (TXT) and girl group aespa got the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Commendations. The former dropped its fourth EP, "minisode 2: Thursday's Child," in May, which stayed on Billboard's main albums chart for 14 consecutive weeks.

"This prize will lead TXT to work harder as one of the leading K-pop acts," Shin Young-jae, president of the group's agency Big Hit Music, said. "Big Hit Music will also give the members our unwavering support and strive to come up with quality content."


Dong Sun-hwa sunhwadong@koreatimes.co.kr


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