The actor of “The Squid Game” Lee Jung Jae made history as the first Asian actor to receive the award for best actor in a drama series at the Emmy Awards. In more than twenty years of acting and directing, this is the first nomination for an Emmy Award and an Emmy Award that he has received.
Since being released on Netflix in 2021, Squid Game has become incredibly successful and has become a cultural phenomenon. Lee played the main character Song Ki-hoon, a Korean single father who joined Squid Game in an attempt to pay off his gaming debts. Known in the game as Player 456, he miraculously wins a prize of $4.56 million at the cost of the lives of all the other participants.
The Squid Game has received a staggering 14 nominations for various awards, including outstanding Production, screenplay, cinematography and music, to name just a few. Of these 14 nominations, only the film crew received 3 Emmy Awards, including “Outstanding Visual Effects in a Single Episode”, “Outstanding Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program” and “Outstanding Stunt Performance”. In addition, director Hwang Dong Hyuk won the award for Best Director, and supporting actress Lee Yoo Mi won the award for Best Outstanding Guest Actress for her role as Ji Yeon. The show dominated many groundbreaking series, including Better Call Saul, Legacy, Euphoria, Very Strange Things, and Ozark.
Social networks are full of praise for Squid Game. “Lee Jung Jae has made another sign (for) the Korean film industry,” one South Korean viewer tweeted. Another called it a “historic moment” for the Korean film industry. Even South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol took the time to congratulate the actors and crew on his Facebook page. “The outstanding performance of actor Lee Jung Jae has united the hearts of the characters and the audience,” Yoon wrote.
The resounding success of Squid Game marks a paradigm shift in the variety of stories accepted by the mainstream media. In addition to being the first Asian actor to win an Emmy Award, Lee also became the first actor to receive an award for a non-English speaking role. Given the long history of white-dominated television and film awards, the recognition of Lee and his team is an important milestone that will hopefully open up many unique international film and television projects to American audiences. Their victories are important not only for Korean cinema, but also for filmmakers around the world who are trying their best to make their stories heard.
After just one season, Squid Game is already an incredibly influential show that not only charmed viewers, but also influenced positive social changes. Fans can only hope that the second season will make the same furore.
Squid Game season 1 is currently available on Netflix.