Squid Game heralds new era in global entertainment industry
Everything “Squid Game” has achieved at the Emmy Awards is a first: the first Korean, the first Asian and the first non-English performing actor, director and series to be nominated and clinch awards.
The Netflix original series has set records in the Korean and global entertainment industries, winning a total of six awards, including Outstanding Lead Actor and Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series.
Actor Lee Jung-jae was named best lead actor at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards held in Los Angeles on Monday (local time), becoming the first Korean, the first person of an Asian nationality and the first non-English performer ever to nab the trophy in the category.
He beat strong contenders ― Jason Bateman from “Ozark,” Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong from “Succession,” Bob Odenkirk from “Better Call Saul” and Adam Scott from “Severance.”
“Thank you to the Television Academy, thank you to Netflix, and thank you to the director for making realistic problems we all face come to life so creatively on the screen with a great script and amazing visuals,” Lee said in English upon accepting the award at the ceremony, held at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
He continued in Korean: “To everyone watching from Korea, my dearest fans, friends and family, I want to share this joy with you. Thank you.”
The award was the latest one for Lee to receive for “Squid Game” in the U.S., following those at the Critics Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild, Independent Spirit Awards and Hollywood Critics Association Awards.
In a speech backstage after the award ceremony, Lee said the content business has changed a lot during his 30-year acting career.
“When we presented Korean content overseas in the past, we asked them to see our story, our culture. But now there are so many ways that we can communicate with overseas viewers so instantly, so I really feel we are connecting so fast with audiences all over the world,” he said.
“I can see that if we think our story is entertaining and meaningful, it can be understood and enjoyed anywhere in the world. I believe that if we bring any ideas and create content more freely, we’ll be able to communicate with many people (worldwide),” he said.
The smash-hit series’ director, Hwang Dong-hyuk, claimed another historic win at the awards, achieving Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series with the series’ episode, “Red Light, Green Light.” He is the first director to win in the category with a foreign-language series in the history of the prestigious award.
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Fellow nominees for the category included Ben Stiller of “Severance,” Mark Mylod, Lorene Scarfaria, and Cathy Yan of “Succession,” Karen Kusama of “Yellowjackets” and Jason Bateman of “Ozark.”
“Since ‘Squid Game’ got 14 nominations at the Emmys, people keep telling me that I made history. But I don’t think I made history by myself because it was you (Netflix) who opened up the door for ‘Squid Game,’ inviting us here tonight at the Emmys. So I believe I have to say, we all made history together,” he said in English after accepting his trophy.
“And I truly hope ‘Squid Game’ won’t be the last non-English series to be here at the Emmys. And I also hope this won’t be my last Emmy either. I’ll be back with Season 2,” Hwang said.
The dystopian thriller series, about a group of people playing deadly rounds of children’s games to win prize money, notched 14 nominations at the awards, including the best supporting actor categories for actors Park Hae-soo, O Yeong-su and Jung Ho-yeon.
It had won a total of six awards, including four ― guest actress, stunt performance, production design and visual effects ― during the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards held last week.
Lee and Jung also appeared on stage as the presenters for the Outstanding Variety Sketch Series category. On the stage stood a giant doll that was shown in an episode of “Squid Game,” and the two actors performed like they were playing “Red Light, Green Light.”
For the historical win at the Emmy, President Yoon Suk-yeol sent congratulatory messages to both Hwang and Lee.
For Hwang, Yoon said, “Your insight and approach toward unfairness and the loss of opportunities, which are difficult problems in modern society, have gained global sympathy.”
To Lee, the president said his 30-year acting career has borne fruit. “I expect you to continue working actively on films and dramas that can impress audiences globally.”
Source: The Korean Times