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Yuh-Jung Youn Vs Bill Hwang: Shortcut Not Taken

Yuh-Jung Youn became the first Korean to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Youn made history at the age of 73 with her role in “Minari,” and her accomplishment delivers an important message when juxtaposed to Bill Hwang’s recent failure on Wall Street. Bill Hwang’s Archegos Management lost $20 Billion because the risky investment that pulled 10X+ leverage got hammered by margin calls. Youn and Hwang share similarity as they were both born in Korea, had their golden age and experienced the fall. But what they did differently to overcome their failures resulted in different altitudes of life.

This YouTube video well-describes Youn’s life, which I will translate into English and summarize here. Youn was born in North Korea where her family escaped the South right after Korean War. As her father passed away when she was only 10, her mother raised Youn and her two younger sisters by herself. Youn started her acting career in her early 20s by starring in multiple TV shows and soon became a superstar when Director Ki-Young Kim cast her for the main role in ‘Fire Woman.’

Youn got married to the renowned musician Young-Nam Cho, and moved to the US where she raised their two sons. However, her difficult time started when Youn and Cho take a divorce and Youn returns to Korea with her two sons. To make a living, Youn took any role in television shows that cast her no matter how big or small they were. She recalled that it was a time when a divorced woman was difficult to appear on television, so she practiced so much to overcome those conventional hurdles. Step by step, she became even more popular as a genius actress, which eventually led her to win Oscar in 2021. She did not take any shortcuts to achieve her reputation, and with the right opportunity, she became worldly renowned.

Bill Hwang also got worldly known recently but in a much intolerable way. He was born in Korea and moved to the US when he was in high school. With an economics degree from UCLA and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University, Hwang had a successful career on Wall Street. He worked for the fund management called Tiger Management which was legendary in the industry and earned a good amount of recognition.

His downfall started in 2008 during the global market crash when his fund also encountered huge losses. In 2012 SEC caught him for insider trading, and in 2014 Honking banned him for trading. His name was then long forgotten in the industry until March 2021 when the world found out what he had done to the market with his family office, Archegos Capital Management. Long story short, he borrowed so much money to trade stocks of companies like ViacomCBS and failed. As a result, those stocks went into margin call where the banks like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and Nomura that provided leverage to Archegos sold those stocks. ViacomCBS stock price dipped by more than 50%, and Credit Suisse lost $4.7 Billion (source).

The difference between Youn and Hwang is clear; Youn was persistent and Hwang was impatient. And Youn’s accomplishment carries so much meaning for those who feel exhausted by the investment boom for the past 1 year. As the stock and cryptocurrency market exploded, we have been hearing many people making so much money through the investment of Tesla, GameStop, Bitcoin, or Dogecoin. And for people who have been working hard with fixed income, such news can be discouraging. Do we work hard just to make enough seed money to invest or gamble? I hope not, and Youn provided a perfect example of why. Yuh-Jung Youn acted for 55 years and got internationally recognized at the age of 73, and there was no shortcut taken.

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