The South Korean TV series Squid Game, which became the biggest show in Netflix’s history, racked up multiple wins at Monday’s Emmy Awards. The show was set in Seoul and starred Lee Jung-jae (Player 456), a single cash-strapped father who entered the game and ultimately won. The show became a pop culture phenomenon when it debuted last September and received 14 nominations at this year’s awards. It is the first non-English language series nominated for outstanding drama series at the Emmys. Lee Jung-jae is the first South Korean actor to win in the outstanding lead actor category.
After accepting his award, Lee thanked director Hwang “for making a realistic problem we all face come to life so creatively on the screen with a great script and amazing visuals.” The show’s creator, Hwang said he hoped his Emmy as outstanding director in a drama series won’t be his last. “I want to thank the TV Academy for this honor and also a huge thank-you to Netflix,” he said in his speech . He gave a shout out to Netflix boss Ted Sarandos, who was also there at the ceremony but did not win an award himself. “On to season two,” he told the audience.
Hwang Chi-yang, the director of the award-winning Korean drama film Squid Game , shared with CNN his inspiration for the film. The movie is about losers in a competitive society, he said. It is a personal story that also reflects the “winners level up” attitude that exists in many countries. Many people in South Korea were proud of Lee Joon-jae (also spelled Lee Jung-jae) and Hwang’s Emmy wins. One viewer on Twitter wrote: “Lee Jung-jae made another mark (for) the Korean movie industry” Another called it a “historical moment” for South Korea’s film industry. President Yoon Suk Yeol congratulated Hwang and Lee on their awards, and said Lee had honed his skills through dramas and movies. “Actor Lee Jung-jae’s outstanding acting has brought the character and viewers’ hearts together,” Yoon wrote on his Facebook page. Actor Lee prevailed over nominees Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), Jason Bateman (Ozark), Jeremy Strong (Succession), Adam Scott(Severance) and Brian Cox (Succession).