However, she was not alone in making the foundation on which the Korean film industry stands at the moment.
Since Kang Soo-yeon
became the first Korean actress to win a major international award in 1987 with "The Surrogate Woman"
, the local movie industry has gone through dramatic improvement over the past 20 years.
Kang, then 21, was chosen best actress for "The Surrogate Woman"
at the Venice Film Festival for her role as "Sibaji", a Korean word for surrogate mother, in the movie produced by Korea's master film director Im Kwon-taek
In 1989, Kang reaffirmed her global fame as she won best actress at the Moscow Film Festival for her role in Im's Buddhist movie, "Aje Aje Bara Aje", which translates into "Come, come, come upward".
At the heart of the global acclaim poured on Korean movies for the past two decades were a dozen of other actresses, armed with passion for acting and superb performance.
Im's another movie, "Seopyeonje"
, garnered much international acclaim in 1993, giving the best actress trophy to leading actress Oh Jung-hae
at the Shanghai International Film Festival.
More recently, Moon So-ri
picked up the Best Actress Award from the Stockholm International Film Festival for her role in "A Good Lawyer's Wife
" in 2003. For "Oasis"
, she won the Marcello Mastroianni Award as best newcomer at the 2002 Venice Film Festival.
Other major film awards have also recognized Korean actresses. The Montreal World Film Festival selected Shin Hye-soo as actress of the year for her work in "Adada" in 1988 and Lee Hye-seok for "Silver Stallion" in 1991.
The Three Continents Festival in Nantes awarded Shim Hye-jin
for her outstanding performance in "Black Republic"
in 1990 and Choi Myung-gil
for "La Vie en Rose" in 1994.
Actress Kim Ho-jung
won the Best Actress Award at the 2001 Locarno International Film Festival with the low-budget sci-fi movie "The Butterfly".
The award rally continued as Korean actresses swept the Oporto International Film Festival, also known as Fantasporto, in the following years. In 2001, Suh Jung
was chosen the best actress for her role in "The Isle"
and in 2002 Jang Jin-yeong
took the baton with a horror film, "Sorum
". In 2004, Im Soo-jung
followed their suit with "A Tale of Two Sisters
Most recently, Lee Young-ae
's stunning performance in Park Chan-wook
's movie, "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
", got her the Best Actress Award at the 2005 Sitges International Film Festival in Catalonia, Spain.
In the meantime, Korean actors were, for the most part, outperformed by their female counterparts, with a relatively few awards from global film festivals.
became the first Korean actor to receive an award at an international film festival in 1993 when he got the Best Actor Award at the Moscow filmfest for his role in "Saleolilatda", which means "I will survive".
Lee was followed by Park Joong-hoon
who received an award at the 2000 Deauville Asian Film Festival.
Lately, the New Montreal Filmfest awarded Silver Iris for Best Actor to child actor Park Ji-bin
for his role in "Little Brother"
, and Fantasporto recognized the performance of Ha Jung-woo
in the movie, "Time"
, in 2007.
By Ahn Hyo-lim
By winning the best actress award at the 60th Cannes film festival for her role in "Secret Sunshine"
, Korean Jeon Do-yeon
highlights the reputation of Korea's actresses in the global market.