won the Best Actress award at the 60th Cannes Film Festival, which ended on Sunday, for her role in Lee Chang-song's "Secret Sunshine"
. Jeon is the first Korean and second Asian actress to win the award for best actress at the prestigious international film festival. Maggie Cheung, who was on the jury this year, won in 2004 with "Clean". Director Lee served as a culture minister from 2003 to 2004.
When her name was announced, the Korean actress hurried on stage and greeted her audience in French. She said, "I can't believe it. There are fabulous actresses and movies here. I don't know if I deserve this award to represent them". She credited Lee and Song Kang-ho
, who stars opposite her, saying the director "helped me make an impossible thing possible. Song Kang-ho
's acting supplemented my role and made it look perfect. I'd like to thank him". At this point, Song stood up and waved toward Jeon on the stage, inviting a round of warm applause. The 34-year-old actress wrapped up her comment by saying, "I will remember tonight forever. Thank you".
Since Kang Soo-yeon
won best actress at the Venice Film Festival in 1987 for her role in "The Surrogate Woman"
, it has taken a Korean actress 20 years to achieve a Grand Slam of the world's three prestigious film festivals - Cannes, Venice and Berlin. Moon-So-ri won Best New Performer at Venice for her role in the film "Oasis"
, which was produced and directed by Lee Chang-dong
Many outstanding actresses competed at this year's Cannes, including Romanian Anamaria Marinca in "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" and Russia's Galina Vishnevskaya with "Alexandra". "It's a monumental achievement for an Asian actress to win the Best Actress award at Cannes", said Pusan International Film Festival director Kim Dong-ho
after attending the award ceremony. "Maggie Cheung won the award with a movie directed by a French director, and she speaks English in the movie. But Jeon has won the award with a Korean movie in which she speaks her mother tongue".
Jeon's achievement suggests the global film industry is paying attention not only to Korean movies but finally to Korean actors. Since 2000, Korean directors Im Kwon-taek
" in 2002), Lee Chang-dong
in 2002), Park Chan-wook
(with "Old Boy"
in 2004) and Kim Ki-duk
" in 2004) have won best director and the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes, Venice and Berlin film festivals, but no Korean actors won the best actor award before Jeon.
The grand prix Palme d'Or went to Romanian director Cristian Mungiu for "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days", a movie about abortion under the Ceausescu regime.