Netflix, Busan Int’l Film Festival pay tribute to late Korean actress Kang Soo-youn

Netflix and the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) have offered their condolences to Korean actress Kang Soo-youn who died on May 7 after suffering cardiac arrest. She was 55.

She became the first Korean actor to win at the Venice International Film Festival. For her role in the movie “The Surrogate Woman,” she won best actress at the 44th Venice International Film Festival in 1987. She also won best actress at the 1989 Moscow International Film Festival for “Come, Come, Come Upward.”

Kang Soo-youn as BIFF festival director (center) and her roles in movies (clockwise from top left) "Berlin Report," "Ladies of the Palace," We Are Going To Geneva Now" and "Jury" (BIFF and screenshots from Korean Film Biz video on YouTube)

Kang Soo-youn passed away at Gangnam Severance Hospital in Seoul at 3 p.m. due to intracerebral hemorrhage.

On May 5, Kang Soo-youn was rushed to the hospital after suffering cardiac arrest. She was found by her family at 5:40 p.m. at her home in Apgujeong, Gangnam in Seoul in a state of cardiac arrest.

Her family called the 119 emergency hotline. She was given CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and was taken to the hospital for treatment and remained unconscious. She was on a ventilator for three days.

Kang Soo-youn was preparing to make her comeback after nine years through the Netflix sci-fi movie “Jung_E,” which is scheduled to be released this year. Her last movie was “Jury” that was released in 2013.

“Kang Soo-youn, a brilliant actor who was a pioneer in the Korean film industry, died today. It was an honor to be with the late Kang Soo-youn, who always showed great acting and good energy on the set. We will not forget every moment of actress Kang Soo-youn who did her best for a good work. May she rest in peace,” Netflix Korea posted on Instagram.

Kang Soo-youn also served as BIFF festival director from 2015 to 2017.

“With a heavy heart, we send our deepest condolences for the sudden loss of former festival director, Kang Soo-youn. Kang contributed to introduction the excellence of Korean cinema to the whole world and devoted herself to BIFF as festival director from 2015 to 2017. We will never forget her hard work and dedication. May the soul rest in peace,” BIFF posted on social media.

Her wake is at the Samsung Medical Center Funeral Hall and the funeral will be held on May 11.

Throughout her career, Kang Soo-youn won many acting awards. She won best actress at the 1989 Moscow International Film Festival for “Come, Come, Come Upward.”

She also won numerous times as best actress at the Baeksang Arts Awards, Grand Bell Awards, Blue Dragon Film Awards and Chunsa Film Art Awards.

In 2001, she bagged the "daesang" (grand prize) at the SBS Drama Awards for "Ladies of the Palace."

According to the Actor Is Present website, “Born in 1966, Kang Sooyoun began acting as a child actor exclusively for Tongyang Broadcasting Company in 1969 when she was only three years old. Growing up from a child to a high-teen star through TV dramas and movies, Kang turned into an adult actor in 1985 when she graduated from high school. Despite some pains, The Surrogate Womb (1987) she starred in was a great challenge and achievement. In the historical drama set in the Joseon Dynasty, Kang Sooyoun played a surrogate woman for a noble family, pulling off the character with great concentration. It allowed her to become the first East Asian actress to win the award at the Venice Film Festival.”

“Later, Kang Sooyoun’s era unfolded in Chungmuro, where she solidified her image as a youth star with Springtime of Mimi and Cheol-Su (1987). In Come, Come, Come Upward (1989), she played the role of a Buddhist nun, winning the Best Actress at the Moscow International Film Festival and reconfirming her position as a world star. In 1991, she starred in Autumn Tempest (1991), a Taiwanese film, which was a very unusual case for a Korean female actor to advance abroad at that time.

“Above all, Kang Sooyoun was the only actress who had acting talents and box office success at the same time. From the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, she was one of the actors we could see most and had the most trophies at awards ceremonies. Especially during this period, Kang Sooyoun was a reliable female actor to lean on for young directors who tried new movies. These are such films: Director Park Kwangsoo’s Berlin Report (1991), Director Jang Sunwoo’s The Road to Race Track (1991), Director Lee Hyunseung’s Blue In You (1992), Director Oh Byungchul’s Go Alone Like Musso’s Horn (1997), and Director Lim Sangsoo’s Girls’ Night Out (1998). In particular, Kang Sooyoun was the most important female actor in feminist films that began to sprout in the 1990s. Her characters were faithful to their desires, proudly resisting patriarchal order and agonizing over the identity of women.

“Since 2000, she has been loved by the public through TV rather than movies, and she played the role of Jeong Nanjung in the royal historical drama Ladies in Palace (2001), pulling off a perfect villain character. Later, she appeared in the TV drama Moonhee (2007) and the film Hanji (2011). She worked as a co-chairman of the Busan International Film Festival in 2015. Now, after her 10-year-break, Kang Sooyoun is returning to the cinema with Director Yeon Sangho’s Netflix film Jung Yi (working title).”

Kang Soo-youn’s Filmography

Kang Soo-youn’s Filmography

<Hanji> (2011) 

<Rainbow Trout> (1999) 

<Girls' Night Out> (1998)

<Deep Blue> (1997)

<Their Last Love Affair> (1996) 

<Go Alone Like Musso'S Horn> (1995)

<The Woman And The Man> (1993) 

<Blue In You> (1992) 

<The Road To Race Track> (1991)

<Berlin Report> (1991)

<Autumn Tempest> (1991)

<That Which Falls Has Wings> (1990)

<Shock Continues Long) (1989)

<Come, Come, Come Upward> (1989)

<We Are Going To Geneva Now) (1988) 

<Prince Yeonsan> (1987)

<Springtime of Mimi and Cheol-Su> (1987)

<The Surrogate Womb> (1987)