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The Hollywood Reporter’s TV Critics Pick 10 Standout Performances Post-Emmys
These actors are the biggest revelations among the crop of shows that premiered after the Emmy eligibility period ended in May.



From left: Swagger’s O’Shea Jackson Jr., Reservation Dogs’ Devery Jacobs, Squid Game’s Lee Jung-jae, What We Do in the Shadows’ Kayvan Novak, and Maid’s Margaret Qualley. ANTONY PLATT/APPLE TV+; COURTESY OF FX ON HULU; NOH JUHAN/NETFLIX; NOVARUSS MARTIN/FX; RICARDO HUBBS/NETFLIX


Lee Jung-jae, Squid Game
Of all the wretched souls in Squid Game, none endures a more dramatic journey than Gi-hun. Depending on the episode, he’s a desperate loser or an unlikely hero, a broken shell of a man or the flame-haired embodiment of justice. What remains consistent is his position as the show’s emotional center. It’s a testament to Lee’s work that he’s able to exert such a strong and consistent gravitational pull, even as his character flits through so many different modes. Lee plays Gi-hun with the slumped shoulders of a man who’s been knocked around by life, but also with the guileless smile of one who hasn’t completely given up on it. His face remains an open book even as the corners of his mouth start to sag, reflecting our own anguish and anger at what he and his fellow players are forced to endure. Narratively and thematically, Squid Game lives or dies by its ability to make us care about the humans cornered into this inhumane system. Lee makes it unthinkable that we might ever fail to. — A.H.




[2021-11-19] Korea National Ballet Society’s Night


Actors Lee Jung-jae and Jung Woo-sung attended the National Ballet event to encourage and praise Korea's representative ballerinas for their best performances.




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[2021-11-26] The 42nd Blue Dragon Film Awards


Actors Lee Jung-jae and Jung Woo-sung presented Best Director Award to Director Ryoo Seung-wan (Mogadishu).

























[LJJ’s instagram + Herald]


Blue Dragon 2008



Blue Dragon 2013



Cr: SportsChosunDB





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Gotham Awards Predictions: Will Netflix Rule Both Sides of Film and TV With ‘The Lost Daughter’ and ‘Squid Game’?

By Clayton Davis, Michael Schneider | November 28, 2021



The Gotham Awards will be the first awards body on the independent circuit to choose its winners for the year on Monday.

On the film side, two Netflix features lead the tally, both from debut women filmmakers — Rebecca Hall’s “Passing” and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter.” There isn’t always an obvious blueprint to predicting this group. As we saw with last year’s two tied categories (please, God, no more ties), things could get interesting at Cipriani Wall Street. The Gotham are just the start of a busy week that has a great influence on the Oscar race. After Monday’s first critics and guild screening of Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” and Wednesday’s unveiling of Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley,” Thursday brings us the National Board of Review selections before the New York Film Critics Circle weighs in on Friday.

As for the television side, the Gothams will offer up a first glimpse at how potent new contenders, including Netflix’s “Squid Game” and HBO’s “The White Lotus,” might be in future awards competitions. For “Squid Game,” Netflix is aiming to make history this winter awards season, as the South Korean thriller could potentially be the first non-English language series to break into the kudos game. The show is up for breakthrough longform series and performance in a new series, for Le Jung-jae. “The White Lotus,” which aired this summer, will get its feet wet ahead of the 2022 awards season. The show has nominations in breakthrough longform series and performance in a new series for Jennifer Coolidge. Looking for an awards redemption after being mostly snubbed at the Emmys is Showtime’s stellar “The Good Lord Bird,” nominated in longform and performance in a new series (Ethan Hawke), and Amazon Prime Video’s “The Underground Railroad” (longform and Thuso Mbedu). Other programs with multiple noms include three in the short form race: “Hacks,” “Reservation Dogs” and “We Are Lady Parts.”

Check out the winner predictions down below.

Breakthrough Series – Long Format (over 40 minutes)
    •    “The Good Lord Bird” (Showtime) – Ethan Hawke, Mark Richard, creators; James McBride, Brian Taylor, Ryan Hawke, Ethan Hawke, Jason Blum, Albert Hughes, Mark Richard, Marshall Persinger, David Schiff, executive producers
    •    “It’s A Sin” (HBO Max) – Russell T Davies, creator; Russell T Davies, Peter Hoar, Nicola Shindler, executive producers
    •    “Small Axe” (Amazon Prime Video) – Steve McQueen, creator; Tracey Scoffield, David Tanner, Steve McQueen, executive producers
    •    “Squid Game” (Netflix) – Kim Ji-yeon, Hwang Dong-hyu, executive producers
    •    “The Underground Railroad” (Amazon Prime Video) – Barry Jenkins, Colson Whitehead, creators; Barry Jenkins, Adele Romanski, Mark Ceryak, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Colson Whitehead, Jacqueline Hoyt, executive producers
    •    “The White Lotus” (HBO) – Mike White, creator; Mike White, David Bernad, Nick Hall, executive producers

Prediction: “Squid Game”

Alternate: “The White Lotus”

This seems to be “Squid Game’s” big moment, and the timing feels right for a breakthrough. The Gothams have been all about recognizing breakthrough storytelling in this category, including “Watchmen,” “When They See Us,” “Killing Eve,” “Atlanta,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Mr. Robot.” “Squid Game” feels like the next step in that evolution. Otherwise, Barry Jenkins’ profound “The Underground Railroad” could pull it off, but the addictive “The White Lotus” might be undeniable.


Outstanding Performance in a New Series
    •    Jennifer Coolidge, “The White Lotus” (HBO)
    •    Michael Greyeyes, “Rutherford Falls” (Peacock)
    •    Ethan Hawke, “The Good Lord Bird” (Showtime)
    •    Devery Jacobs, “Reservation Dogs” (FX)
    •    Lee Jung-jae, “Squid Game” (Netflix)
    •    Thuso Mbedu, “The Underground Railroad” (Prime Video)
    •    Jean Smart, “Hacks” (HBO Max)
    •    Omar Sy, “Lupin” (Netflix)
    •    Anya Taylor-Joy, “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix)
    •    Anjana Vasan, “We Are Lady Parts” (Peacock)

Prediction: Lee Jung-jae, “Squid Game”

Alternate: Jennifer Coolidge, “The White Lotus”

This is a brand-new category for the Gothams, so there’s no hint to how voters might lean. Perhaps they’ll stick with the always deserving superstar on this list, Emmy winner Jean Smart. Or maybe Ethan Hawke will finally get the attention he deserves for his incredible work on “The Good Lord Bird.” But we’re going to stick with the possibility that voters may have gotten swept up in “Squid Game” mania and selected Lee Jung-jae. And as a backup, perhaps they couldn’t resist being the very first awards show to recognize the brilliance of Jennifer Coolidge in “The White Lotus.”





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Congratulations to the team of Netflix series Squid Game as they won the Breakthrough Series - Long Format (over 40 minutes) award at the 41st GothamAwards.


Squid Game' wins Best Feature Series at 'Gotham Awards'... First Korean work "Miracle"

Enter 2021.11.30. 12:46 PM


[Picture] ⓒGetty images

[OSEN = Reporter Jang Woo-young] 'Squid Game' won the Best Feature Series Award at the 'Gotham Awards'. 

Netflix original 'Squid Game' won the 'Breakthrough Series - Long Format (over 40 minutes)' category at the 31st Gotham Awards held on the 30th (Korean time). 

The 'Gotham Awards' is an annual awards ceremony sponsored by the Independent Filmer Project (IFP), the largest independent film support organization in the United States. It is an awards ceremony that kicks off the awards season in the United States, and it is also a place where you can predict the results of awards such as Oscars and Emmys in advance.

'Squid Game', which was selected as the nominee for the best feature-length series in the hot popularity, is the US drama 'The Good Road Bird', 'It's a God', 'Small X', 'The Underground Railroad', 'The White Lotus', etc. competed together. 

'Squid Game' proved its global success by winning the trophy in this category, beating out prominent works. Director Hwang Dong-hyuk, who received the trophy, went on stage with Lee Jung-jae and Jeong Ho-yeon and shared the joy. 

CEO Kim Ji-yeon said, “After it was released on September 17, miraculous things happened, and the most miraculous thing was the great support from all over the world for a small work in Korean. I want to send the biggest thanks to the 'Squid Game' fans around the world. Director Hwang Dong-hyuk seems like a genius, and the staff and actors all showed perfect teamwork in their respective positions.” 

Director Hwang Dong-hyuk said, "Before Jeong Ho-yeon came here, he came up on stage and told me that if the audience thinks naked, they are less nervous. But it doesn't help." "I wrote this book in 2009. Some people said it was too violent and unrealistic, but now it is the most famous work on the planet. Thank you so much and it's amazing. All I can say is thank you. Thank you,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lee Jung-jae, who played the role of Sung Ki-hoon in 'Squid Game', was nominated for the 'Outstanding Performance in a New Series' category, but unfortunately failed to win the award. /elnino8919@osen.co.kr
OSEN = Reporter Jang Woo-young] '

Wooyoung Jang (elnino8919@osen.co.kr)








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'Squid Game' wins best long-form TV series at Gotham Awards

By Kim Boram (brk@yna.co.kr) | November 30, 2021



This image, provided by the Facebook accounts of the 2021 Gotham Awards, shows "Squid Game" winning Breakthrough Series over 40 minutes. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean outbreak hit "Squid Game" won the best long-form TV series title at the Gotham Awards, becoming the country's first winner at the U.S. awards ceremony for lower-budget indie movies and TV series.

At the awards ceremony held at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on Monday (U.S. time), the Netflix original was awarded Breakthrough Series -- Long Format (over 40 minutes), beating "Small Axe," "It's A Sin," "The Good Lord Bird, "The Underground Railroad" and "The White Lotus."

But its lead actor Lee Jung-jae did not win the category of Outstanding Performance in a New Series. Instead, Thuso Mbedu in "The Underground Railroad" and Ethan Hawke in "The Good Lord Bird" shared the honor.




In these photos provided by the Associated Press, "Squid Game" creator Hwang Dong-hyuk (R) and actors Lee Jung-jae (L) and Jung Ho-yeon (C) pose as they arrive at the 2021 Gotham Awards at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on Nov. 29, 2021. (Yonhap)

"It took 12 years to make this show and present it to people, but it took less than 12 days to become the no. 1 show on the planet. It's a miracle," director-writer Hwang Dong-hyuk said in an acceptance speech. "Thank you for watching it, and thank you for loving it. Thank you so much."

During the event, "Squid Game" star Jung Ho-yeon took the stage as a presenter of the Breakthrough Nonfiction Series prize, which went to PBS' "Philly D.A."

It is the first time South Korean-made content has been awarded at the Gotham Awards, organized by the Independent Filmmaker Project, known as the first movie awards show in the run-up to the Academy Awards slated for March. Films budgeted under $35 million are eligible to be nominated at the Gothams.

Last year, South Korean actress Youn Yuh-jung was nominated for best actress for her performance in the immigration film "Minari." But she failed to win the category.

Since its official release on Sept. 17, "Squid Game" has swept Netflix's top popular charts across the world, reaching the No. 1 spots in more than 90 countries where the streaming service is available.

It also became the most-watched Netflix content of all time, with a total of 1.65 billion hours of streaming in the first four weeks of release.

The record-breaking run has helped the all-Korean language show emerge as a leading contender in some upcoming prestigious awards shows, including the Critics Choice Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. (END)



‘Squid Game’ wins breakthrough series prize at Gotham Awards

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com) | Nov 30, 2021


From Right: “Squid Game” director Hwang Dong-hyuk, actors Lee Jung-jae, Jung Ho-yeon and Siren Pictures CEO Kim Ji-yeon pose after receiving an award at the 2021 Gotham Awards in New York City on Tuesday. AP-Yonhap

“Squid Game” was announced the winner of the breakthrough series’ long format category at the 2021 Gotham Awards on Tuesday.  Five other TV series, including Amazon Studios’ “Small Axe” and HBO Max’s “It’s A Sin,” vied for the prize in the over 40-minute category at the annual US awards ceremony for lower-budget indie movies and TV series.

The award ceremony took place on Tuesday in New York and “Squid Game” director Hwang Dong-hyuk, Siren Pictures CEO Kim Ji-yeon and two cast members -- Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-yeon -- were on stage when the award was given out.

“We’ve experienced so many miracles since we launched this show on Sept. 17 and the biggest of them is how much love and support you all have shown to a foreign language series with a very strange title,” Kim said during her acceptance speech.

Hwang, who wrote the script in 2009, said he had tried his best at the time but no one appreciated it.  “People said it’s unrealistic, it’s too violent, it’s absurd, it’s weird. It took 12 years to make this show and show it to the people. And it took less than 12 days to become the number one show on the planet,” Hwang said. “What can I say? It’s a miracle. If there are miracles, this is a miracle. it happened to me. And all I can say is thank you. Thank you for watching it.”

The series revolves around a contest where 456 players, who are in deep financial debt, risk their lives to play a series of Korean children’s games to win a 45.6 billion won ($38.5 million) prize. It became the most successful TV show in Netflix history with more than 142 million viewers in the first four weeks after its release on Sept. 17.

Its lead actor Lee Jung-jae was also one of 10 nominees for the outstanding performance in a new series prize at the 2021 Gotham Awards, but failed to win. The category had two winners -- Ethan Hawke in “The Good Lord Bird” and Thuso Mbedu in “The Underground Railroad.” 

Organized by the Independent Filmmaker Project, the Gotham Awards is one of the major film awards in the US in the runup to the Oscars slated for March next year. Films budgeted under $35 million are eligible for nomination. 

Last year, South Korean actor Youn Yuh-jung was nominated for best actress for her performance in ”Minari,” but failed to win.


=> Watch Gotham Awards 2021




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Blue Dragon Film Award attendee's positive test rattles actors

BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [yim.seunghye@joongang.co.kr] | December 1, 2021



Lee Jung-jae, left, and Jung Woo-sung on the stage of the Blue Dragon Film Awards on Nov. 26 to present an award. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

With actor Jung Woo-sung testing positive for Covid-19, concern is on the rise about the possible spread of the virus to actors who attended the Blue Dragon Film Awards, held Nov. 26.

The attendants did not wear masks most of the time during the event, though they were seated with one empty seat between them. Jung was fully vaccinated, according to Artist Company.

Organizers say that Jung "hardly came into contact with other actors at the ceremony." Those who did come close to the actor were advised to be tested, the organizers added.

Lee Jung-jae, who presented an award with Jung without wearing a mask, was tested after the ceremony before traveling overseas, and the test was negative.

Lee attended the 31st Gotham Awards, held Nov. 29 in New York, and won a trophy for the "Breakthrough Series -- over 40 minutes" and "Squid Game." Lee attended the event with Kim Ji-yeon, CEO of Siren Pictures, director Hwang Dong-hyuk and actor Jung Ho-yeon.




Lee Jung-jae to appear on US ‘Stephen Colbert Show’... “Will tell behind the scenes of Squid Game”

December 1, 2021



Actor Lee Jung-jae will appear on the popular CBS talk show 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert'.  


On the 30th (local time), Lee Jung-jae posted a photo of his appearance on his Instagram story, 'The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’.  The Stephen Colbert Show is America's most popular late-night comedy talk show. Actor and writer Stephen Colbert is the host.



Lee Jung-jae gained a lot of popularity as the main character in the Netflix series 'Squid Game'. He took on the role of Ki-hoon, who was divorced due to gambling debt and had to write a memorandum of renunciation.  He showed great acting skills by digesting the character Ki-hoon. 200% of emotions such as sadness, fear, anger, and fatherly love were revived, leading to the success of the 'Squid Game'.

Meanwhile, Lee Jung-jae will appear on CBS ‘The Stephen Colbert Show’ at 11:35 pm (Eastern time in the US) on the 30th to tell the story behind the 'Squid Game'.

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Lee Jung-jae And Stephen Send Leo A Selfie, Take The Dalgona Candy Challenge From "Squid Game"


The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
The star of Netflix's "Squid Game," Lee Jung-jae, makes his first appearance on The Late Show and shows Stephen how to unlock the secrets of the Dalgona candy featured in the show. #Colbert #SquidGame #LeeJungjae


Subscribe To "The Late Show" Channel: http://bit.ly/ColbertYouTube
Watch full episodes of "The Late Show": http://bit.ly/1Puei40
Listen to "The Late Show Pod Show" podcast: https://link.chtbl.com/Awagtx95?sid=yt


Watch The Late Show with Stephen Colbert weeknights at 11:35 PM ET/10:35 PM CT. Only on CBS.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is the premier late night talk show on CBS, airing at 11:35pm EST, streaming online via Paramount+, and delivered to the International Space Station on a USB drive taped to a weather balloon. Every night, viewers can expect: Comedy, humor, funny moments, witty interviews, celebrities, famous people, movie stars, bits, humorous celebrities doing bits, funny celebs, big group photos of every star from Hollywood, even the reclusive ones, plus also jokes.

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2021 Asia Artist Awards hands out nine Grand Prizes

BY SHIN MIN-HEE [shin.minhee@joongang.co.kr] | December 3, 2021




The Grand Prize winners at the 2021 Asia Artist Awards: from top, BTS, Lee Jung-jae, Yoo Ah-in, Lee Seung-gi, Lim Young-woong, NCT 127, Seventeen, Stray Kids and aespa [ILGAN SPORTS]

The 2021 Asia Artist Awards (AAA) handed out a total of nine Grand Prizes in the television, film and music categories on Thursday night.

The Grand Prizes were awarded as follows: actors Lee Jung-jae (Actor of the Year), Lee Seung-gi (Actor of the Year: Drama), Yoo Ah-in (Actor of the Year: Film); K-pop bands Seventeen (Artist of the Year), NCT 127’s “Sticker” (Album of the Year), Stray Kids (Performance of the Year), BTS’s “Butter” (Song of the Year), aespa (Stage of the Year); singer Lim Young-woong (Trot of the Year).

BTS, who was unable to attend the ceremony as the band is still in the U.S., accepted the award through a pre-recorded video. “We’re so grateful that ‘Butter’ was selected as the song of the year,” said RM, with Jungkook adding, “We hope ‘Butter’ remains a song that is remembered by many.”

Actor Lee Jung-jae, upon receiving the Actor of the Year award, acknowledged the success of Netflix’s “Squid Game,” in which he starred, as a miracle. “I want to share this honor with the audience, my co-stars and crew.”

The AAA is an annual awards ceremony hosted by local media news outlet Star News. This year, the event took place at the KBS Arena Hall at Gangseo District, western Seoul, but was streamed online.



Winners of the 2021 Asia Artist Awards


by krishkim

Credit: 2021 AAA

The Asia Artist Awards (AAA) held this year’s event at KBS Arena Hall on the 2nd with Super Junior’s Leeteuk and IVE’s Jang Won Young as its hosts.

A total of nine grand prizes were given out this year: Actor of the Year (Lee Jung Jae), TV Actor of the Year (Lee Seung Gi), Film Actor of the Year (Yoo Ah In), Song of the Year (BTS’s “Butter”), Album of the Year (NCT 127), Trot of the Year (Lim Young Woong), Performance of the Year (Stray Kids), Singer of the Year (SEVENTEEN), and Stage of the Year (aespa).

Lee Jung Jae, who took home the Actor of the Year award, shared, “Thank you for giving me such a huge award. I think that the success of Squid Game is like a miracle. I want to share this honor with the actors and staff I worked with, along with the viewers from all over the world.”


Yoo Ah In, who won Film Actor of the Year, said, “I participated in a small-budget movie called Voice of Silence, but have received such big awards. I will work hard to become an actor who can approach the core of the movie and the attraction that I felt.”

Moreover, Lee Seung Gi, who became the TV Actor of the Year, said, “First of all, I would like to thank the production team for giving me the opportunity to act in a work called Mouse. I think that the reason I got a lot of good responses with Mouse was because of the actors I worked with.”

BTS won the Song of the Year once again following last year. In their video speech, they said, “Thank you for choosing ‘Butter’ as the best song of the year. We’re grateful to our fans for loving us. We hope that ‘Butter’ will be a song that remains in people’s memories for a long time. There’s one month left of 2021 and we hope that people will have a good end of the year.”

NCT 127 took the trophy for the Album of the Year. Doyoung, who also won AAA Focus (Actor), accepted the award on behalf of the group. “First, I want to thank Lee Soo Man and the rest of our family and staff at SM,” the idol shared. “I think that as singers, we can receive such meaningful awards through our fans, who took the time and effort to share their wholehearted love with us.”

You can check the full list of winners below.
Song of the Year: “Butter” (BTS)

Actor of the Year: Lee Jung Jae

TV Actor of the Year: Lee Seung Gi

Film Actor of the Year: Yoo Ah In

Album of the Year: NCT 127

Trot of the Year: Lim Young Woong

Performance of the Year: Stray Kids

Singer of the Year: SEVENTEEN

Stage of the Year: aespa

Best New Artist (Singer): ENHYPEN, aespa

Best New Artist (Actor): Lee Do Hyun


AAA Focus (Actor): NCT’s Doyoung, Park Gun Il

AAA Potential (Singer): AleXa, T1419

AAA Potential (Actor): NU’EST’s Minhyun

AAA New Wave (Singer): STAYC, Weekly

AAA New Wave (Actor): Na In Woo

RET Popularity Award (Singer): Lim Young Woong, EXO, TWICE, CL

RET Popularity Award (Actor): Song Ji Hyo, Kim Seon Ho

U+ Idol Live Popularity Award (Singer): BTS, BLACKPINK, Lim Young Woong, IU

U+ Idol Live Popularity Award (Actor): Jung Ho Yeon, Kim Seon Ho

AAA Best OST: Lim Young Woong (“Love Always Run Away” from Young Lady and Gentleman)

AAA Best Producer: SEVENTEEN’s Woozi

AAA Best Creator: Brave Brothers

AAA Best Music Video: EVERGLOW

AAA Icon (Singer): WOODZ (Cho Seung Youn)

AAA Icon (Actor): Ryu Kyung Soo

AAA Hot Trend (Singer): Brave Girls, aespa

AAA Hot Trend (Actor): Lee Jung Jae

AAA Best Emotive (Singer): WJSN CHOCOME, Kwon Eun Bi

AAA Best Emotive (Actor): ASTRO’s Cha Eun Woo, Moon Ga Young

AAA Asia Celebrity (Singer): GOT7’s BamBam, THE BOYZ

AAA Asia Celebrity (Actor): Yoo Ah In, Vachirawit Chivaaree, Metawin Opas-iamkajorn

AAA Best Choice (Singer): PENTAGON, MOMOLAND, Golden Child

AAA Best Choice (Actor): Lee Jun Young (U-KISS), Joo Suk Tae

AAA Scene Stealer: Cha Ji Yeon

AAA Best Acting Award: Girls’ Generation’s Yuri, Sung Hoon, Kitamura Takumi

AAA Best Musician: Kang Daniel, ITZY, ASTRO, Wonho, THE BOYZ

AAA Best Actor: Park Joo Mi, Heo Sung Tae, Kim Joo Ryoung

AAA Fabulous (Singer): SEVENTEEN

AAA Fabulous (Actor): Lee Jung Jae

AAA Best Achievement: NU’EST

AAA Best Artist (Singer): BamBam, ENHYPEN, Brave Girls

AAA Best Artist (Actor): Jeon Yeo Been, Han So Hee

History of Songs Award: Sandaime J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE

Source (1, 2, 3)
Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.



[2021-12-03] The 6th Asia Artist Awards (AAA)


Grand Prize Actor of the Year, Hot Trend (Actor), Fabulous (Actor)









@ Newsen + starnews


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The 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards

Awards Ceremony Will Air Live on The CW and TBS

Sunday, January 9, 2022

From The Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel



(Los Angeles, CA – December 6, 2021) – The Critics Choice Association (CCA) announced today the TV category nominees for the 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards. The winners will be revealed at the star-studded Critics Choice Awards gala, which will broadcast LIVE on The CW and TBS on Sunday, January 9 from 7:00 – 10:00 pm ET (delayed PT).

The Critics Choice Awards are bestowed annually to honor the finest in cinematic and television achievement. Historically, they are the most accurate predictor of Academy Award nominations. Film category nominations for the 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards will be announced on December 13.


[variety] In history-making news, Netflix’s “Squid Game” became the first non-English language series to score a drama series nomination at the Critics Choice, and it also pulled off the rare feat of landing nominations both in drama and best foreign language series. The South Korea-based phenomenon also pulled in a drama actor nomination for star Lee Jung-jae.



Evil (Paramount+)

For All Mankind (Apple TV+)

The Good Fight (Paramount+)

Pose (FX)

Squid Game (Netflix)

Succession (HBO)

This Is Us (NBC)

Yellowjackets (Showtime)


Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us (NBC)

Mike Colter – Evil (Paramount+)

Brian Cox – Succession (HBO)

Lee Jung-jae – Squid Game (Netflix)

Billy Porter – Pose (FX)

Jeremy Strong – Succession (HBO)


Acapulco (Apple TV+)

Call My Agent! (Netflix)

Lupin (Netflix)

Money Heist (Netflix)

Narcos: Mexico (Netflix)

Squid Game (Netflix)

SQUID GAME (Netflix) – 3

Best Drama Series

Best Actor in a Drama Series – Lee Jung-jae

Best Foreign Language Series


About the Critics Choice Association (CCA)
The Critics Choice Association is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing almost 500 media critics and entertainment journalists. It was established in 2019 with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, recognizing the intersection between film, television, and streaming content. For more information, visit: www.CriticsChoice.com.

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[deadline] NBC and E! celebrated the people’s choice’s on Tuesday night. Fans rated the the best in movies, television, music and pop culture during the 2021 People’s Choice Awards show, hosted by actor and SNL veteran Kenan Thompson. This year marked the first time the award show did a simultaneous live broadcast across both channels.



Cobra Kai
Mare of Easttown
Outer Banks

WINNER: Squid Game
Ted Lasso
The White Lotus






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‘Squid Game’ Stars Reflect on Dealing With Show’s Success: “It Was Hard to Follow”

Jung Ho-yeon, Lee Jung-jae and Park Hae-soo never expected the dystopian South Korean show to become Netflix’s most-watched series, ever.

BY BEATRICE VERHOEVEN | December 4, 2021


From left Park Hae-soo, Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-yeon in Netflix’s Squid Game. THR PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/ NOH JUHAN/NETFLIX

Squid Game became Netflix’s most watched show ever within a week of its Sept. 17 launch on the streamer, with 142 million member households globally watching the dystopian South Korean series in its first four weeks. Not even the lead actors could foresee just how it would blow up — and, not surprisingly, they didn’t know how to deal with its sudden and massive success.

“I lost 6 pounds in a week when it became successful,” Jung Ho-yeon, who plays Sae-byeok in her acting debut, tells THR. “I couldn’t eat — it wasn’t stress, I just didn’t know this feeling. I was kind of losing myself.”

The drama, created by Hwang Dong-hyuk, stars Jung, Lee Jung-jae and Park Hae-soo as contestants (in a lineup of hundreds) who fight for their lives through various childhood games — with the sole survivor winning big prize money. Allegiances (and divisions) are formed as the characters work together to compete in the deadly games while also looking out for themselves.

The three actors spoke to THR (Lee and Park through an interpreter) about their most challenging scenes, how they prepared for their roles and whether they could have ever predicted the global phenomenon that Squid Game has become.

What made you all want to be a part of Squid Game?

LEE JUNG-JAE Director Hwang’s work has always been very, very interesting to me. I’ve been wanting to work with the director himself. And then once I finally got the script for Squid Game, it was unique and the characters have all this depth. I really wanted to work on the project.

JUNG HO-YEON I auditioned. I was a huge fan of director Hwang, and it was such an honor that I was cast.

PARK HAE-SOO I have great respect and trust for director Hwang. I really was excited to work with this ensemble and with other actors, and I have such, such great respect for Jung-jae that I was really excited. There was absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t do this project.

What scene was most challenging for you?

LEE To be honest, the honeycomb scene. That was very difficult because as an actor, I had to only be in one place, but I had to also calculate how the intensity rises with how scared and how pressured [my character] was. So in order to do that, it was actually quite difficult. Also, episode six, “Gganbu,” was quite difficult because the character has to cheat. And in order to show that kind of emotionality was quite challenging. Gi-Hun as a character really is uncomfortable if he has to cheat, so it was very difficult to actually show this part of the integrity of the character, and that he has to do this in order to survive.

Hae-soo, your character is very likable at the beginning, but that diminishes as the show goes on. What drew you to the character?

PARK All the characters actually have dualities, but my character in particular has the most and is actually very prominent. My character doesn’t have a lot of self-confidence, and then he meets his childhood friend [Gi-Hun] and has a lot of jealousy toward him. And so there’s a lot of loss that he’s feeling right now. In reality, I had to look back into my past and see when I’ve had these experiences, because I needed to express that in my character. It was actually not that hard, because all of us go through something like that.

Hae-soo and Ho-yeon, how did you mentally and physically prepare for your roles?

JUNG Mentally, I wrote a diary about Sae-byeok’s daily life — when she is in North Korea and has to escape to South Korea, and what happened in the moment and what were the sounds and what did she feel so I [could] save her memories in me. But even though I prepared like that mentally, physically I did martial arts. They sent me to practice, but I did too much, I think, so the director and producer said I shouldn’t go that much — like, “Take it easy, Ho-yeon. We won’t hang you up somewhere, you’ll be fine!” At the beginning of shooting, I actually didn’t know much about Sae-byeok, but the experience Sae-byeok had during Squid Game was kind of naturally saved in my body and my [mind]. Especially in the bathroom when she got stabbed, [which] we [shot] quite early. When we shot that scene, I was so nervous because I’ve never been stabbed — it was a pressure scene for me.

Did someone give you the idea to keep a diary as your character?

JUNG It was just me. I didn’t have the method to get to the character because I didn’t have any [acting] experience at all, so I had to find my way to get close to her. At the beginning, it wasn’t a diary, it was just notes, but I tried to make it organized.

Was the bathroom scene your most challenging one?

JUNG It was one of the most challenging scenes because at the beginning of the shoot, I couldn’t get rid of the nerves — but I had to do [Sae-byeok’s] most important scene. Once I did that, and director Hwang was very happy, I was proud of myself and had more confidence. I was like, “I’m good to go.” After that, there were many challenges. The last scene with Sae-byeok, I was nervous. But I had to do it.

Jung-jae, how did you prepare for your role?

LEE When I was preparing for another role, I actually just walked. That’s what I did, that was my preparation. So for this character, I walked through the Korean markets, and that really helped me prepare for the character emotionally — being able to observe everyday life and everyday people at the market. From the physical aspect, we were on set for five to six days, actually shooting. We weren’t sleeping. There’s little food on set. So I was on a diet and lost about 4 to 5 kilograms [8 to 11 pounds].

What about you, Hae-soo?

JUNG I can explain! (Excitedly answers for her colleague without the aid of an interpreter.) He’s not good at studying, but he has to understand [his character]. Seoul University is the top university in Korea, and his character graduated from there, so he had to understand all this. He just visited Seoul University for five days just to get this feeling of the smart people.

Hae-soo, you gained 800,000 Instagram followers in one day, which is extraordinary. Did any of you anticipate this kind of success for the show?

PARK To be honest, when I read the script and then I met the ensemble members, I did have some expectations that it could be big.

JUNG I think [I knew] a week after it opened. I couldn’t follow the speed of the growth of the Squid Game success because since COVID, I think everything is faster and even online, it happens just so quick. It was hard to follow. I lost 6 pounds in a week when it became successful. I couldn’t eat — it wasn’t stress, I just didn’t know this feeling. “What’s going on out there, who am I?” I was kind of losing myself. Now, I feel very comfortable with the Squid Game team, so I can slowly get used to this success with people. But when I was at home by myself watching this growth, I was like, “What?”

LEE I agree with Ho-yeon, I don’t know how to deal with this. I don’t know what this is. Even though I have [more acting] experience. … Even in Korea, it was very popular and the show was getting a lot of responses from people that they really enjoyed it. It was very successful in Korea.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This story first appeared in a December stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.




Squid Game director teases Gi-hun's Darth Vader vs. Jedi 'test' in potential season 2


In a virtual panel, director Hwang Dong-hyuk tells EW about where the Squid Game story might go next.

By Sydney Bucksbaum | Updated December 08, 2021 at 07:16 PM EST

Will Squid Game's lone surviving hero turn to the dark side in season 2?

Netflix's hit Korean drama ended its first season with Seong Gi-hun, a.k.a. Player 456 (Lee Jung-jae), deciding not to get on a plane to see his daughter. Instead, he turned around on the jet bridge to seek revenge on the sadistic game that almost cost him his life and left 455 other contestants dead. And while the streaming service hasn't renewed Squid Game yet, Lee and director Hwang Dong-hyuk are already teasing how Gi-hun could face an even bigger decision in season 2.

"I'm not really in the right place to be discussing season 2 in an official setting, but if there were to be a season 2, in the first season that we saw Gi-hun is a character whose humanity is shown through or exposed in certain situations," Hwang said via translator during a virtual SAG panel Sunday night hosted by EW's editor-in-chief, Mary Margaret. "In other words, his humanity is shown through a very passive manner. But I would think that in the second season, what he has learned from the games and his experience in the first season, they will all be put to use in a more active manner." 

Hwang continued, "And at the same time, as for the Front Man [Lee Byung-hun] who was also a past winner but became a Front Man, it's like Darth Vader. Some end up Jedi and some become Darth Vader, right? I think that maybe Gi-hun will go through a certain critical point where he is put through a test as well."



Lee Jung-Jae on 'Squid Game' | CREDIT: NETFLIX

Lee then zoomed into the camera for dramatic effect as he joked, "If I had to be a Front Man, I would be the most scary Front Man you would ever see."

Since its September release, Squid Game has emerged as Netflix's biggest series launch ever, becoming the first Korean series to hit No. 1 in the U.S. It topped the charts in all 94 countries where the streamer has a top 10 list. But the stars are even more proud of how the series is bringing Korean content into mainstream pop culture.

Park Hae-soo, who played Cho Sang-woo, a.k.a. Player 218, pointed out "the fact that we created a uniquely Korean story, with a very Korean subject matter, with all Korean creators — the crew, the staff, and the wonderful cast. The fact that something we prepared for a long time and showcased to the world in the Korean language and filled with Korean culture, the fact that this was loved by so many around the world and so many people related to it, that was something I'm really proud of." 

And Lee is grateful for how "the whole team ... really pulled their whole hearts and souls into it. Each cut is so precious and I would say I'm most proud of our entire team. Of the crew, the cast, and everyone involved who did something amazing."

HoYeon Jung, who played Kang Sae-byeok, a.k.a. Player 067, applauded "the relationship between my Squid Game team," adding, "It's the relationship you can't easily get in your life and it's the relationship that you can keep forever. I'm proud of the relationships of Squid Game."


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Best TV Performances of 2021

By Caroline Framke, Daniel D'Addario | December 8, 2021


Courtesy of HBO/Netflix/AppleTV+

With such a rich and overwhelming array of television to choose from at the end of every year, there are inevitably worthy shows that go unheralded. There’s only so much anyone — even TV critics! — can watch and absorb, try though we might to stay on top of everything available. And yet, there are always excellent performances that break through the rest of the noise, demanding recognition by virtue of their undeniable pull.

In looking back at this year in television to choose 25 of its most compelling performances, Variety’s chief TV critics Caroline Framke and Daniel D’Addario considered buzzy new shows (“Squid Game,” “WandaVision”), shows that snuck up on them (“Starstruck,” “Love Life”), and shows that took their final bow (“Shrill,” “Pose”). Some actors have had time to settle into their roles and find new ways into their roles on established shows such as HBO’s meticulous drama “Succession,” while others burst onto the screen with impressive ease on promising newcomers such as Peacock’s gleefully bonkers comedy “Girls5Eva.” Some broke out of their respective casts to establish their own impressive rhythm; some found strength as part of a pair, making it difficult to extricate one performance from the other.

All of them made for unforgettable moments on sweeping dramas, character comedies, rom-coms, and even as the unflappable facilitators of interviews that kept viewers talking far beyond the ending credits. Together, the work of these 25 people represents the extraordinary breadth of the medium, and how truly great acting can give any project that extra indelible spark of inspiration.

Here are Variety’s picks for the 25 best performances from this year in television, presented in alphabetical order.

Lee Jung-jae, ‘Squid Game’


Photo : Everett Collection


“Squid Game,” Netflix’s late-breaking smash hit of the season, could have been a fun enough time with lesser actors by virtue of its slick production value and escalating series of shocking moments. But with Lee as its earnest, beating heart, the series became something far more human and compelling. No matter if he was running from debt collectors, struggling through deadly games, or risking everything to protect his elderly new friend (played by the fantastic Oh Yeong-su), Lee anchored “Squid Game” like no other could. — CF




SAG Predictions: TV Cast Ensemble (Drama) – ‘Succession’ vs. ‘Squid Game’?

By Clayton Davis | December 7, 2021


Noh Juhan/Netflix



SAG nominations voting begins on Monday, Dec. 6, and will end on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. The official SAG Awards nominations will be announced on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, with the ceremony taking place on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.


1.  “Succession” (HBO) - Hiam Abbass, Nicholas Braun, Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin, Peter Friedman, Natalie Gold, Matthew Macfadyen, Alan Ruck, Sarah Snook, Jeremy Strong, Rob Yang, Dagmara Domińczyk, Arian Moayed, J. Smith-Cameron, Justine Lupe, David Rasche, Fisher Stevens

2. “Squid Game” (Netflix) - Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, Jung Ho-yeon, O Yeong-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi, Kim Joo-ryoung

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Announcing 2021 AFI AWARDS Honorees

December 8, 2021



Congratulations to this year’s AFI AWARDS honorees! The honorees include 10 outstanding films and 10 outstanding TV programs deemed culturally and artistically representative of this year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image. Additional honorees were selected in a category for “Special Awards,” designated for works of excellence that fall outside of the Institute’s criteria of American film and television.

“AFI is honored to shine a proper light upon the most outstanding screen stories of 2021 and those who worked collaboratively to bring them to screens large and small,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO. “From soaring in spirit to dark and dangerous – from heartbreaking to hilarious – these are the stories that have united us in uncertain times and continue to drive culture forward.”

The honorees will be celebrated on January 7, 2022, at a private reception, and beginning on January 8, AFI Movie Club will showcase the with new content hosted exclusively on AFI.com.





AFI AWARDS selections are made through a jury process where AFI Trustees, artists, critics and scholars determine the year’s most outstanding achievements and provide artistic and cultural context for the selection of each honoree.


This year’s jury featured acclaimed artists including Lee Isaac Chung, Liz Hannah, Anjelica Huston and Ed Zwick; renowned film historians Annette Insdorf, L.S. Kim, Akira Mizuta Lippit, Leonard Maltin, Ellen Seiter and Robert Thompson; the AFI Board of Trustees; film critics Shawn Edwards from the African American Film Critics Association and Claudia Puig from Los Angeles Film Critics Association; and film and television critics from outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, Rolling Stone, TV Guide and The Washington Post. The jury was chaired by AFI Board of Trustees member Jeanine Basinger (Chair Emerita and Founder of the Film Studies Department, Wesleyan University) and AFI Board of Trustees Vice Chair Richard Frank (former Chairman of Walt Disney Television, President of Walt Disney Studios, President of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences).

The 2021 recipients join a distinguished group of previous AFI AWARDS honorees whose works define the art form and contribute to our rich cultural legacy.


[screendaily] Honourees will attend a private AFI Awards reception at The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills on January 7, 2022. // Related Coverage: variety




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Spoiler alert: Google says Squid Game was the most trending TV show in 2021


Google's 2021 year in search marks Squid Game, Shang-Chi, Alec Baldwin and Birria tacos as top trending queries.

By Brian Bennett | Dec. 8, 2021 12:01 a.m. PT



Google's 2021 year in search data has been released.
James Martin/CNET

Google is taking a look back at the top trending searches from the past year on Wednesday with the release of its 2021 Year in Search. The search giant's lists compile some of the year's top trending Google searches globally and in the US and delve into categories including TV shows, sports teams, news and video games.

It should come as no surprise that top of the list for TV shows was Squid Game. The hit Netflix series also cracked the top 10 trending searches overall for 2021, according to Google. Squid Game landed below searches for the T20 World Cup cricket championship and above searches for rapper DMX, who died in April. In the TV category, Squid Game was followed by Bridgerton, WandaVision, Cobra Kai and Loki.

Marvel also dominated the top trending movie searches for 2021, with Eternals, Black Widow and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings all grabbing a spot on the list. Also making an appearance were Dune, Red Notice, Mortal Kombat, Cruella and Godzilla vs. Kong.

Google noted that these are the top trending searches from the year, which is a little different from just the most searched for queries in a specific time frame. Google says this better identifies topics that saw a big spike in 2021. 

Some other Google searches that were trending in 2021: Alec Baldwin for actors, Birria tacos for food and, in the US, Ranch water was the top trending alcoholic beverage recipe. Heading up the trending songs category was Olivia Rodrigo's Drivers License, while the games category featured PopCat, FIFA 22 and Battlefield 2042.



See what was trending in 2021 - Global


1) Australia vs India
2) India vs England
3) IPL
4) NBA
5) Euro 2021
6) Copa América
7) India vs New Zealand
8) T20 World Cup
9) Squid Game
10) DMX


TV Shows
1. Squid Game
2. Bridgerton
3. WandaVision
4. Cobra Kai
5. Loki


‘Squid Game’ Was the Most Searched TV Show in 2021


by krishkim

Netflix series Squid Game and actor Kim Seon Ho ranked 3rd and 46th, respectively, in Google Korea’s “Searches” ranking.

On the 9th, Google looked back at the top trending searches from the past year with its 2021 Year in Search. The lists compile some of the year’s top trending Google searches in categories including TV shows, sports teams, news, and video games.

In Korea, Squid Game landed at No. 3, following Roblox and COVID vaccine reservation. Moreover, Kim Seon Ho, who got swept up in controversy over his personal life, ranked sixth.

Even on a global scale, it should come as no surprise that the top of the list for TV shows went to Squid Game. Not only did the hit series rank first on the TV Shows category, but it also cracked the top 10 trending searches overall. Among all the TV shows and movies, Squid Game was the only show that ranked in the overall ranking, proving the global sensation it has created.

The Top 3 of the drama/variety show ranking in Korea included The Uncanny Counter and web-variety show Money Game. The list also included two dramas embroiled in controversies over historical inaccuracy, Mr. Queen and Joseon Exorcist.

Source (1, 2)

Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.


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Is Squid Game the dawn of a TV revolution?

By Al Horner | 7th December 2021

The South Korean series Squid Game became Netflix's most-watched show of all time in 2021. Its success could spark enormous changes in what we watch in 2022 and beyond, writes Al Horner.

When Bong Joon-ho won best picture for Parasite at the 2020 Oscars, his acceptance speech included a message to Western audiences. "Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films," he told filmgoers who may historically have avoided non-English language movies – or worse yet, waited for their inevitable American remakes. The director didn't have to wait long for signs his wish could be coming true.

Unless you've been living on a remote, internet-less island for the last few months, cut off from the world while you compete in a variety of deadly games for a cash prize, you'll be aware of Squid Game. It's a show that's pierced the zeitgeist like a needle through a honeycomb wafer – with an estimated audience of more than 140m worldwide, it became Netflix's most-viewed show of all time. If you were at a Halloween party in October, you may well have seen guests decked out in the show's trademark blood-splattered green tracksuits. If you're a teacher at a UK school, you might even have had to break up playground games inspired by the series, despite its 15 rating.


Squid Game's reach in global pop culture is unprecedented for a non-English language show (Credit: Netflix)

From Seoul to Surrey, Squid Game's tentacle-like reach around the planet has been unprecedented. In the last few years, there have been plenty of word-of-mouth small screen smashes that rose to become pop culture events: crime documentary series Tiger King sparked endless Zoom debates and theorising between friends during the first lockdown in 2020, for example. But not since Stranger Things or Game of Thrones has a show had this kind of pop cultural footprint.

What's remarkable about Squid Game's place among shows of that enormous popularity is that to get there, it had to hurdle the 1in-high wall that Bong spoke about. Tens of millions in the UK are estimated to have watched Squid Game, despite its English-language subtitles (a dubbed version is also available, but sources familiar with the series tell BBC Culture that UK audiences are largely consuming episodes with subtitles, in line with creator Hwang Dong-hyuk's wishes).

Squid Game has achieved global mainstream visibility in a way that arguably no other non-English language film or TV show has ever managed

Non-English language movies like Parasite, Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, French romance Amélie and 2000's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon have all won Western acclaim and awards before (not a marker by which they should be judged: these are all astonishing works of art, with or without Western approval). But Squid Game has achieved global mainstream visibility in a way that arguably no other non-English language film or TV show has ever managed.

Which leaves a few questions. What was it about Squid Game that shattered mainstream Western hesitancy towards non-English language content in 2021? And what does its popularity mean for film and television in 2022? Is Squid Game a one-off pandemic pop culture anomaly – or the beginning of a new age of non-English language film and TV ascendency around the world?



No more cultural gatekeeping

When Seattle-based cultural commentator David Chen was growing up, "the only way to watch something like Squid Game would be through very sketchy websites or DVD shops," he laughs. "That's no longer the case. It's now mass-market entertainment." The host of respected entertainment podcasts The Filmcast and Culturally Relevant, Chen makes a good point. A decade or two ago, a series like Squid Game just wouldn't have been accessible enough to mainstream Western audiences to enjoy the type of success it has on Netflix in 2021.

Before the advent of streaming services, most TV channels took few chances with non-English language shows. Put it this way: if The Wire, an exciting English-language drama now widely recognised as the best show of the 21st Century, struggled to get a look-in with many broadcasters, it's unlikely there'd have been a spot for a blood-soaked, anti-capitalist Korean-language thriller series. It might have been made available as a DVD boxset in the early-to-mid '00s as binge-watch culture took hold, but few shows made the leap from word-of-mouth boxset buzz to breakout smash status.

Our increasing use of text on phones has overcome resistance to subtitles and helped non-English language films like Parasite (pictured) to achieve global success (Credit: Alamy)

The lack of accessibility for non-English language titles back then was predicated on a suspicion among entertainment industry gatekeepers that audiences didn't want subtitled content. "[Studios and distributors] claimed that people don't like to read subtitles because it's tiring or distracting on screen, but we read text all day long on our phones and in every other aspect of our lives, so I've always found it funny," says Darcy Paquet, the Seoul-based author and film critic who translated Parasite into English subtitles for its international release. For years, subtitles had "an image problem – an association with something people imagine as being convoluted or difficult to watch", he says.

Quietly, Netflix has been cultivating the exact circumstances on the platform for a global phenomenon like Squid Game to emerge

Squid Game's success has shown that perception of subtitles to be wrong – or at the very least incredibly outdated. It's also eroded the kind of cultural gatekeeping that enforced it in the first place. In traditional TV, there's a limit of 24 hours a day of broadcast space that can be filled. On the servers of streaming giants like Netflix, there's infinite space, meaning the Californian company and their rivals have thought nothing of commissioning shows in a range of different international markets, and then commissioning subtitles or dubbing for them in a variety of languages so that they are accessible to Netflix viewers across the world. Since launching in South Korea in 2016, Netflix have created 80 shows using Korean talent and creators – all of which can be watched with different subtitles or dubbing tracks from anywhere in the world, ready to be fed into viewer's suggested shows and movies by its algorithm.

"The exciting thing for me would be if the next Stranger Things came from outside America," the company's chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in 2018. "Right now, historically, nothing of that scale has ever come from anywhere but Hollywood." Clearly, that wasn't just talk. Quietly, the company has been cultivating the exact circumstances on the platform for a global phenomenon like Squid Game to emerge, through making projects like Spain's Money Heist and Germany's Dark, then equipping them with all the tools to be discovered outside of those markets.

Money Heist (La Casa de Papel) was initially intended as a limited series, but was eventually extended to three seasons (Credit: Alamy)

"They really have put a lot of work into repackaging shows from other countries in a way that makes them extremely accessible to other audiences," says Chen, who points out that Squid Game represents a culmination of these efforts. Money Heist, Dark, Spanish school drama Elite and France's Lupin all walked so Squid Game could run, to put it another way.

Now, with Squid Game having proved that "stories don't need to be told in English to be hits in English-speaking countries", as Chen puts it, some industry experts are expecting an acceleration of investment in other countries from Netflix's streaming rivals, and more marketing space given to non-English language titles than they would have received pre-Squid Game. Apple TV+, for example, has recently been promoting a new South Korean production titled Dr Brain (starring Parasite's Lee Sun-kyun) to UK audiences with regular trailers and posters both across their social media and on the platform itself, preceding other shows and movies. "Six months ago, they might not have advertised it with the same ferocity," one source tells BBC Culture. "Post-Squid Game is a whole other ball game."

More South Korean content

The most obvious likely effect of Squid Game's success is more South Korean content being fast-tracked on to screens around the world. There certainly seems to be an appetite for it: in late October, an article on The Guardian full of suggestions of K-dramas to watch if you enjoyed Squid Game was one of the top 10 most-read articles on the site, up there with whistleblower reports about Facebook's internal practices and rumours of another impending coronavirus UK lockdown.

"People are discovering Korean content to a degree like never before," says Paquet, noting that this "slow-building process" began two decades ago with films like Park Chan-Wook's cult beloved Oldboy. "There were movies which did [manage to] connect with a certain number of people abroad. This last year or two, though, feels like a big leap ahead, with more almost certain to follow." One source at a major streaming service backs up that theory. Interviewed under the condition of anonymity, they suggest to BBC Culture that with Hollywood film and TV productions still in catch-up mode following the pandemic shutdown, streamers may well begin licensing other existing South Korean shows to both capitalise on Squid Game's success and keep their platforms packed with new content. "Everyone is wondering what the next Squid Game is, if they can make their own by investing in South Korean creators and until then, how they might be able to bridge the gap in the short term by buying in existing shows that aren't already available [in Western markets]," they explain. "This was already happening of course but after Squid Game, [there's] a lot more urgency."

Already South Korean shows are being given more visibility on platforms. In November, Yeon Sang-ho’s violent fantasy series Hellbound enjoyed a marketing push that sought to capitalise on Squid Game’s success, displayed prominently in users’ libraries in a way that you suspect might not have been the case had Hwang Dong-hyuk’s show not enjoyed such massive success. Hellbound subsequently overtook Squid Game as Netflix’s most-watched show for that month, topping charts in 80 different countries within 24 hours of premiering.

South Korean film and TV was on the rise long before Seong Gi-hun, Cho Sang-woo and co donned their green tracksuits for the first time. From Parasite to Hellbound creator Yeon Sang-ho's zombie horror Train to Busan, which has proved a word-of-mouth sleeper hit with Western audiences since its release in 2016, spawning a sequel in 2020 and an upcoming US remake, South Korean cinema has been striking a chord globally with increasing frequency over the last five years. Yeon told Time magazine in a recent interview that "Korean content gradually won the trust of the global audience in the past 10 to about 15 years… It might seem sudden, but I believe that many film and drama creators were able to gradually accumulate credibility in the global market with high-quality content, and I feel like that has led to this explosive interest."

Lee Chang-dong's psychological thriller Burning became the first Korean film to make it to the final nine-film shortlist for best international feature film at the Academy Awards in 2019 before Parasite swept all before it a year later by winning in the main best picture category. Since then, Lee Isaac Chung's Minari – technically a US movie but created by South Korean talent and about the immigrant experience of a South Korean family – has also enjoyed Western awards recognition. The latest iteration of the London Korean Film Festival, meanwhile, recently attracted record crowds for its programme of 60 past and upcoming movies from across the region ("I'm especially excited for people to see Ryoo Seung-wan's Escape from Mogadishu. It's a film that really bowls you over with its scale," beams Paquet).

Paquet describes the boom in South Korean cinema abroad as part of a wider cultural rejuvenation. For decades, as the New York Times' Choe Sang-Hun recently wrote, "the country's reputation was defined by its cars and cellphones from companies like Hyundai and LG." Now its cultural exports – films like Parasite, shows like Squid Game and bands like all-conquering K-pop arena-sellers BTS and Blackpink, are consumed by audiences worldwide on those phones and in those cars. "K-pop has certainly made people much more aware of Korea, and that success has bled into other areas like film and TV," says Paquet. Each successful export brings more investment in South Korean art and entertainment, he adds. Squid Game, its most far-reaching cultural export yet, could just turbo-charge investment in (and exports of) South Korean pop culture to the UK and beyond.

A translation industry overhaul

The impact of Squid Game is unlikely to be limited to South Korean shows and films, though. Take a wider glance at the film and TV landscape, and you'll notice that Squid Game wasn't alone in bringing subtitled content to the English-speaking masses in 2021. At multiplexes, the recent Marvel movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings became the first pandemic-era movie to surpass $400 million at the global box office, earning $100 million in just five days after its release in the US – despite large parts of the movie being in Mandarin with English subtitles. The movie adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's In the Heights musical similarly proved successful with English-speaking audiences, who evidently thought nothing of the fact that its dialogue and lyrics frequently drifted into Spanish as a reflection of the Latinx community the film depicts (and Spielberg's new version of West Side Story features Spanish dialogues without English subtitles).

There's a larger trend that it fits into, of audiences raised on the internet not seeing geographic borders the way people once did

This, industry analysts claim, is reflective of a more globalised pop cultural landscape. Turn on your radio in 2021 and you won't have to wait long to hear artists like Latin pop pioneer Bad Bunny or the aforementioned BTS – both of whom have scaled the charts and sold out arenas in English-speaking markets despite performing in their native languages. "There's a larger trend that it fits into, of audiences raised on the internet not seeing geographic borders the way people once did," says another streaming service source, who points out that it's a development accelerated by platforms like TikTok, where pop culture references and recommendations are shared among its international user base (a "Squid Game dalgona cookie challenge" began trending on TikTok, amassing over 58m views and helping drive the show's popularity among younger audiences). "In 2022, expect more non-English language content from everywhere breaking through," they predict.

Already the wheels seem to be in motion on this. Earlier this month, reports emerged of a "translator shortage" as companies who provide subtitling for other markets on movies and TV shows struggle to keep up with the demand created by shows like Squid Game. "Nobody to translate, nobody to dub, nobody to mix – the industry just doesn't have enough resources to do it," David Lee – CEO of Iyuno-SDI, one of the industry's largest subtitling and dubbing providers – told technology site Rest of World as a (surprisingly fascinating) debate erupted online over the way that subtitles find their way onto our screens.

In September, Korean-American influencer Youngmi Mayer made a viral video pointing out inaccuracies in Squid Game's English translation – moments that lose important cultural context or misrepresent vital pieces of characterisation (although viewers also argued that Squid Game's translated subtitles were more accurate than the closed captions provided to improve accessibility). These shortcomings arguably could be linked to a labour crisis connected to low pay and high-pressure working conditions: Netflix, as Rest of World points out, pay only "$13 per minute for translation of Korean audio into English subtitles, [with] only a fraction of that figure [ending] up directly in the pockets of translators." These rates are reflective of industry norms.

The quality of Squid Game's English subtitles has been questioned by some South Korean viewers (Credit: Netflix)

The success of Squid Game might cause those norms to be improved upon. With Hwang Dong-hyuk's show proving the commercial potential of non-English language shows crossing over into other markets – Netflix have estimated that Squid Game has generated almost $900m in value for the company – Paquet hopes that things may soon change. "It's difficult to translate a lot of the nuance of the Korean language in words that flash up so quickly on screen. I do think if you put a lot of time into the subtitles it really does improve the viewer experience. [But to do that you need] more resources and more time budgeted for it."

The death of remakes

"Just a few years ago, Squid Game would have been something shared within the industry primarily as particularly strong American remake fodder," influential US film industry figure and founder of screenwriting website The Blacklist Franklin Leonard tweeted recently. A decade ago, Leonard argues, the strong likelihood is that most global viewers' initial encounter with a show like this would have been with a US-made interpretation of the material. In the early '00s especially, US retellings of Asian horror films in particular were ever-present in cinemas.

The success of Squid Game could theoretically put the nail in the coffin of this diminishing trend. With Squid Game (and for that matter, Shang-Chi) indicative of a cultural softening of hesitancy towards subtitles, and therefore a desire to watch the original if it's made available, why go to the bother of reworking it with a British or US cast?

"The case for [remakes] has become more limited," says Chen. "Take Squid Game. Could there be a remake of Squid Game? Conceivably, but I think many would argue it'd be pretty pointless." There's always going to be a case for remakes in situations where people don't have easy access to the original work, or in which a different cultural context is able to add significantly to the work at hand, he says, pointing to Martin Scorsese's reinterpretation of Hong Kong mob classic Infernal Affairs, 2006's The Departed as a good example. "That added significantly on to what was already there by putting it in the new cultural context of the Boston mafia. Where it becomes a different type of story by setting it a new place, I think there's still value there. But the situation in which it's useful and financially profitable to remake something is becoming more and more limited."

The jury is out on whether Squid Game will actually represent the beginning of the end for remakes. Curiously, Netflix currently has a Korean remake of Money Heist in production, while Tilda Swinton and Mark Ruffalo were recently in talks to star in a TV spin-off of Parasite, created for streaming service HBO Max, suggesting there's life in the US remake format yet. Train to Busan director Yeon told Time magazine: "My personal hope is that the new remake will not really refer to or think too much about being loyal to the original work… as the creator, if it was almost exactly interpreted compared to the original work, wouldn’t it be better to just watch the original Train to Busan?"

What is certain, however, is that the central theme in Squid Game will continue to be discussed in films and shows from around the world – whatever the language or country of creation. "Squid Game was about capitalism, the same way that a show like [Jesse Armstrong media mogul drama] Succession is about capitalism," observes Chen. "Both deal heavily with capitalism and the dangers thereof. In a world that's grappling with the pandemic, income inequality and healthcare issues have become magnified. There's a reason why those particular stories have really resonated with people. I'd say that the fact that they both deal with capitalism has been a huge factor in their popularity."

The ripples created by Squid Game's success will take some time to be felt but will be fascinating to observe. As Park Hae-soo's Sang-Woo declares during an intense battle in the show's final episode: "We've come too far to end this now." The same might be true of Squid Game (the show has been renewed for a second season) – and the influence it will have on film and TV in 2022 and beyond.


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Lee Jung-jae is King of the World


There was a time in his life when he never thought he'd act again. Now, he's starring in the biggest show on the planet—Squid Game, ever heard of it?

By Brady Langmann | Dec 9, 2021



The King of the World, at least for today, is a walking, talking sun—quite possibly the most generous, charismatic of such entities you'll ever meet—pulling anyone within earshot into his orbit, radiating warmth. An enemy to no one, a friend to all, yes, even you. It's afternoon in late November and the ball of scorching plasma in question is the actor Lee Jung-jae, who, by way of Squid Game, went from being one of Korea's most bankable celebrities to one of the most recognizable stars in the world in just one season.

He and his team of publicists and managers have descended upon the Hearst Tower in New York City to film a video for Esquire. And while Lee readies himself for 45 minutes of questions about Squid Game, now the most-watched show on Netflix ever, one of them is outside, on the phone, trying to make a dinner reservation. Marea? Marea would be nice. They ate room service last night. Can't happen again. The rest of Lee's crew is scattered around, speaking Korean and English and Korean again to each other—everyone is in town for the Gotham Awards where, the evening before, Squid Game won one of its top prizes—doing any number of things publicists and managers do to make sure the day goes smoothly and, also, that Lee is ready for his spot tonight on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. 

Stephen Colbert is important, but so is food. I'm wondering, is Lee Jung-jae Korea's most eminent foodie, constantly hungry, in dire need of an expensive Italian dinner, or all of the above?

Two women from Team Lee sink into a chaise. Maybe they should ask the concierge at the hotel about dinner.
Exhausted. Everyone seems exhausted.

Actually. That's a lie. Lee is beaming, moving around, dutifully greeting the next person, and the next person after that. A week before, I met with him over Zoom—he was in Seoul, South Korea, I was home for Thanksgiving—and found him perfectly charismatic, but encountering him here, in person, and the cosmic descriptors suddenly feel inevitable. He is the effortless center of it all. Lee speaks English with the help of a translator, but even without one, he breaks out this small, sweet smile when he wants to say that he understands you. He leans forward when he talks, grins, and shakes your hand, gracious even in body language.


Filming's about to start. Lee takes a tablet, loaded with a slideshow of Squid Game-isms, and looks up, straight at the camera. Everyone else may be tired, but Lee Jung-jae, moving at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour, is ready to work.



"I thought really deeply about giving up on this job as an actor," Lee says. "I wanted to leave the show business. For two years, I didn’t act. I think it is a time that I really needed."

Lee has played the Squid Game, many times. Growing up in the '70s in Seoul, it was a perfect way for him and other kids his age who didn't have much money to burn time—all you needed to know were the rules and how to draw a series of squares and circles on the ground. If you're the single person on this planet who has not watched Squid Game, the Netflix series, think of it like a moderately violent hopscotch. The goal is to get from one end of the play area, which loosely resembles the head and tentacles of a squid, to the other. One team does the moving. The other does the stopping. "If you really get into the game," Lee warns, "it can get a little bit aggressive."

The actor is remembering the nicks and scratches of his childhood, kids screaming and crying, exorcising demons on the blacktop. But the show's creator, Hwang Dong-hyuk, imagined something—and this is putting it gently!—bloodier. The series, which debuted in September, follows Seong Gi-hun (Lee), a man terminally down on his luck, who gets recruited to play in a series of childhood games for a drool-worthy amount of money. During the first game, which involves automatic weapons and a 10-foot-tall robo-doll, Gi-hun finds out that if you lose, you're executed. Things get violent. Incredibly so. Watched by over 100 million people, many of whom rocked stuffy green tracksuits this Halloween, Squid Game is a nightmare-gifting critique of capitalism; of those who suck the less fortunate dry, and especially those who do it while sipping champagne.

For all of the show's triumphs, and its swelling trophy shelf (count Critics Choice Awards nominations for Lee and Squid Game as the most recent honors) it's just about impossible to imagine the show becoming what it was without the 48-year-old actor. His performance is just as manic as it is big-hearted, hilarious as it is tragic. It's the most visceral, convincing journey from deadbeat to do-gooder you'll see, certainly this year, maybe for a long time—something Hwang up-voted when I asked him about his star's performance. Here's what he wrote:

The biggest challenge in portraying Gi-hun is the journey from a "loser" who almost looks dumb in the first episode to the serious red-headed Gi-hun turning around and walking toward the camera. Making that change convincing was the most difficult challenge, and Jung-jae did just that, portraying a Gi-hun growing and changing bit by bit in each episode. If he hadn't pulled it off, I don't think we could have done the red hair at the end. (laughs)



Where would Squid Game be without its star? Even the creator doesn’t want to know: "If he hadn’t pulled it off, I don’t think we could have done the red hair at the end."

Still, Squid Game has faced criticism, from those saying its message is lost in the show's no-brakes embrace of violence, to those who stand with, wow, LeBron James in arguing that its finale—where Gi-hun chooses going after the puppeteers of the survival competition over reuniting with his estranged daughter—was a bit dubious.

"I think the Squid Game provides a clear message that people cannot succeed without the help of others," Lee says. "When Gi-hun tries to get on the flight to visit his daughter, he realizes that other people could be sacrificed with the same game. He wants to prevent these bad things from happening to these innocent people. So he wants a better world for everyone. I think this is a desperate message that this show tries to get across."

Bronny's beef with Squid Game was one of the dozens of is-this-real-life moments birthed from the show's mania. Another one had just finished its tour de Twitter when I brought it up. A dapper-looking Lee was strolling the red carpet at the LACMA Art+Film Gala, when a reporter remarked, "I'm sure you can't leave the house anymore without people recognizing you," missing the memo of Lee's long-established household-named-status in Korea. I ask if it's frustrating when Westerners next big thing Korean culture.


"I wasn't offended at all," he says. "They just didn't have the opportunity to see a Korean movie, see a Korean TV series. I don't think it's something that we should criticize her for. And just the fact that a lot of people haven't watched Korean TV series prior to the Squid Game, it's just another push for us to work harder so that we can have the next Squid Game. So I would never say, 'Why don't you know that I have been a star all along?'"

Well, he has been a star all along, and the origin story goes like this: In his late teens, Lee worked as a cashier at a cafe in the daytime. At night, he'd take private lessons in interior design, the career he, then, always wanted. One day, a well-known designer, Ha Yong-soo, walked up to the register. He saw the warmth, the energy, incandescence. There was to be a shoot, and something was wrong with the model. He couldn't come.

"What size do you wear? Ha asked.

Lee told him.

"It's going to fit. Do you want to model for a magazine?"

"I'm in the middle of cashiering for the cafe."

The cafe owner told him to go—Lee thinks it's a one-time thing, but magazines call after the shoot wanting to shoot him again. And after those shoots, they call again. Again and again, this goes, until Lee Jung-jae woke up one morning and realized, he's a full-time model. Soon, he's a full-time actor, too, first gaining fame as the resident heartthrob in the Korean TV drama Sandstorm. "For the first five years, it was really difficult for me," he says. "I would get scared just by the idea that I have to get to the set, because I really didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to act. But at the same time, I felt a big responsibility. I have to do it well."

He did. And over the next 30 years, he built one of the biggest careers in the country. He has a chameleonic ability to become anything and everything and have you believe that he is exactly that. It's a little Keanu Reeves-esque, his approach. He's played a god, a love interest, a UFC fighter, and an egomaniac, doing his own stunts whenever possible. He's acted in seven of South Korea's top 100 highest-grossing films, but hey, who's counting.

The breakout role was 1999's City of the Rising Sun, where Lee plays an ex-boxer in a quasi-coming-of-age story. "It was like a restoration of confidence for me," Lee says. "I realized that acting could actually be fun." He was 27 years old, and he even let himself think he'd reached a turning point in his life.

"Actually, it wasn't."



"It was like a restoration of confidence for me," Lee says of his breakout role in 1999's City of the Rising Sun.

Squid Game has already reached the level of mass cultural shorthand that, when we talk about it, we say the *blank* scene, and the entire thing—who said what, the gore, the WEEP WOOP—whooshes to your brain from wherever repressed recess it's been burrowed. Especially the Dalogna scene, and especially for Lee. When I bring it up, he looks like he might break out a half gallon of sweat all over again.

"It was the hottest day of summer," Lee says. "Because it's made of sugar, it would melt, and you're supposed to break it—but it won't break because it's already melted. So it would just become crooked and not break clearly. The most difficult game to shoot was the Dalgona scene. Time is ticking, which means that I have to act out his panic. It goes up every minute, so I have to show that panic in different phases."

Keep in mind: The superlative of most difficult game is not something Lee tosses around lightly, considering that—during the tug-of-war scene—he had to pull a rope attached to an industrial-sized crane. "Our hands turned red, and the ladies had cuts in their hands, and we had to exert a lot of force in order to really show that authenticity," he adds.

Even though Netflix hasn't formally announced plans for Season Two of Squid Game, Lee seems game to return for more episodes, even hinting that we might see more of Gi-hun's humorous side—which is something we sometimes glimpsed amidst, well, the murderous stakes and gift-wrapped coffins of Season One. "Because Gi-hun became more serious because he has to rescue these people, I'm thinking that he would become a more determined character," Lee says. "But if he's just too determined, that could be a little bit boring. So I'm guessing the fun parts of Gi-hun will also come out in the next season."

The man's been in enough blockbusters to know that you have to leave something to the imagination. He wisely stops himself.


Player 456 himself—Lee Jung-jae—behind the scenes of Squid Game.

A thing happens when you get good at something. You start comparing yourself to the person next to you. Why can't I do that? Where did they learn this? That thing you worked so hard at—acting, in Lee's case, a life presented to him at a cafe counter—becomes a little less fun. Then, a lot less fun. You don't know why you're doing it, this thing you gave years and years of your life to, or maybe, for. Your light goes out.

"In the early 2000s, I thought really deeply about giving up on this job as an actor," Lee says. "I wanted to leave the show business. For two years, I didn't act."

I ask him what he felt was missing from his life.

"Because I was nonstop comparing my acting [to others], it didn't give me any joy," he says. "I didn't find it interesting at all. It was just some difficult work that I to get done. So then, I just thought, Okay, then maybe this is all the talent I have in this field. So if that is what it is, then I guess I'll have to give up. It was very difficult for me." 

On the other end of the comparisons, looking for other work, the doubt: Lee becomes one of the biggest stars in his country, looking like—to put it simply—he was having fun. "As I got older, I started comprehending where people found joy," he continues. "I really, with my heart, felt what people were thinking or what kind of ideas people had. I could apply that to my acting. So I think that was the turning point for me. People told me that I became more expressive. They saw more authenticity in my acting. I felt more grounded."

Nowadays, Lee can't stop working. When he was filming Squid Game, he toiled away on the script for Namsun, a spy thriller that he's not only writing, but also producing, directing, and starring in. If Hollywood offers start piling on Lee's metaphorical desk—I'm sure they're already rolling in, but he won't tell me that—he says, "I'm up for it." There's the matter of the probably-definitely-happening second season of Squid Game, which he would have to film, of course, not to mention the other scripts he's working on, and—this is when Lee, at long last, admits that stamina is a problem. 

"I think that that time of turmoil was something that I needed, to realize that this is the job I need, he says. Lee figures the next three to four years will be the busiest time of his life.


Lee doesn’t mind any ignorance of Korean culture in our post-Squid Game world. "The fact that a lot of people haven’t watched Korean movies or Korean TV series prior to the Squid Game," he says, "it’s just another push for us to work harder so that we can have the next Squid Game."

When Lee wraps up the video, every last question about fan theories and Season 2 and what he'd do with 46.5 billion won dutifully answered, he stays in his chair for a moment. He looks calm, per usual, watching the bustling around him, his axis spinning a little slower now, laptops shutting, cameras turning away. Since his posse will have him out the door, hustling the next thing—Mr. Colbert is tonight, remember, hair and makeup before—sometime in the next 45 to 60 seconds, I walk in to say goodbye, good luck, and dear god, if he's eating something other than room service tonight.

"It's not that I wanted to get some food tonight," Lee says, leaning so far forward that he's in danger of falling out of the chair. "I really didn't get to have a nice meal with my team. And since tonight's the last night in New York, I told them, whatever you want to eat, we'll go get it. Tell me."

He stands up, straightens out his jacket, that small smile—the one that tells you he understands—opening into a bright, shining grin.


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Squid Game Star Lee Jung-jae Answered All Our Burning Questions About the Show

In a new video for Esquire, the actor talks about the Dalgona scene, what's to come in Season 2, and all of the many (!) fan theories crowding the internet.

By Brady Langmann | Dec 9, 2021


If you haven't heard—or yet commenced your celebrations—today is Lee Jung-jae Day here at Esquire.

Not only did we profile the Squid Game star, where he spoke candidly about the time in his life when he never thought he’d act again, but he also sat down for an episode of "Explain This." In the newest edition of our long-running video series, Lee answers quite possibly every question about Netflix's hit survival horror series, and then some. That means Lee, one of South Korea's biggest stars, talked about (the not-yet-announced, but certainly happening) Season 2, the Dalgona scene, and all of the fan theories you've parsed through on Reddit—as well as the ones you haven't heard yet.

Now, you'll have to watch the full video to feed your Squid Game appetite. If you want a taste, here's what Lee had to say about Saturday Night Live!'s Squid Game parody, where Rami Malek and Pete Davidson hilariously send up the show via rap song: "It was really interesting and they were so great and funny," Lee said. "[Pete Davidson and Rami Malek] almost looked like they were enjoying themselves too. So it made me feel grateful. Right after I watched it, I was also telling my friends to [watch]. I shared the link and all that. It was so, so much fun. Thank you, guys."

You can watch the "Explain This" video streaming above, and read our profile of Lee Jung-jae here.




Lee Jung-jae Says Squid Game Season 2 Could Explore Gi-hun's Humorous Side

"I'm guessing the fun parts of Gi-hun will also come out in the next season."

By Justin Kirkland and Brady Langmann | Dec 9, 2021


Get your jade tracksuit on, we're going on an adventure. Squid Game, the massively successful Korean drama that took over Netflix, will absolutely likely get a second season. Not only will we absolutely likely get a gift-wrapped coffin of new episodes, the star of the show, Lee Jung-jae, just teased what's in store for Gi-hun in a new interview with Esquire. Surprisingly, following his newly red-haired character's decision to go after the creators of the Squid Game, Lee says we could see Gi-hun's "humorous side."

"Because Gi-hun became more serious because he has to rescue these people, I'm thinking that he would become a more determined character," Lee says. "But if he's just too determined, that could be a little bit boring. So I'm guessing the fun parts of Gi-hun will also come out in the next season."


That said, considering that (spoiler) 455 people die in Squid Game, that leaves the roster of stars a bit bare for a second outing, which means there's much work to do in the casting department before filming can begin. Let's discuss what might come.

Will Squid Game Have a Season Two?

While Netflix has not made the formal announcement, considering the popularity of the series and some of the recent comments of those involved, it seems clear that the series will come back for Season Two. As creator Hwang Dong-hyuk noted in an AP interview, "There's been so much pressure, so much demand, and so much love for a second season, so I almost feel like you leave us no choice... It's in my head right now. I'm in the planning process currently."


The series skyrocketed to the streamer's top watched list, so fans are feeling desperate for more. Plus, there's been news of Netflix's recent investment in more Korean dramas. Also, while Hwang originally suggested that there was not going to be a Season Two, that narrative began changing pretty soon after the successful stats starting rolling in.


So now, it's less about if there's a story to tell and more so if Netflix wants to give it the green light (red light!) (sorry, terrible joke). The only foreseeable issue? They're gonna need a whole new cast. Everyone in this one is dead.

What Would Squid Game Season Two Be About?

If we go off of what Hwang has said he envisions for the series, the next installment of the series could actually be a prequel and highlight the backstory of the Frontman. In particular, the story would focus on his history as a police officer. As Hwang told The Sunday Times, "I think the issue with police officers is not just an issue in Korea. I see it on the global news that the police force can be very late on acting on things—there are more victims or a situation gets worse because of them not acting fast enough. This was an issue that I wanted to raise. Maybe in Season Two I can talk about this more."

Famously, Hwang wrote Squid Game completely on his own, meaning that if Season Two gets greenlit, it could introduce a whole writer's room's worth of perspectives.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter though, Hwang said that he has a few ideas of what Season Two could look like.

I’d like to explore that storyline — what is going on between those two brothers? And then I could also go into the story of that recruiter in the suit who plays the game of ddakji with Gi-hun and gives him the card in the first episode. And, of course, we could go with Gi-hun’s story as he turns back, and explore more about how he’s going to navigate through his reckoning with the people who are designing the games.

So, in short, there's a few interpretations that he could explore.

Just Out of Curiosity, What Game Do You Think You'd Be Best At?

So glad you asked. I would absolutely destroy my competitors at marbles, but I would likely die playing Red Light, Green Light, so this point is moot.

Keep checking back for more information on Squid Game season two. This will be updated as new information is released.


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‘Squid Game’ Most Tweeted About 2021 TV Show; Superheroes, K-Pop, Taylor Swift, Manchester United Top Twitter Year-End Rankings

By Jill Goldsmith | December 9, 2021 7:23am


"Squid Game" (Netflix)

Another first for Squid Game. Twitter, which swung into year-end spirit today with 2021 rankings, showed the Netflix viral hit was, unsurprisingly, the most tweeted-about show on streaming in the U.S. this year. WandaVision and Loki (Disney+) were nos. two and three, followed by iCarly on Paramount+ and Ted Lasso on Apple TV+.

Across all of U.S. TV, there was a hint of nostalgia with Squid Game followed by retro WandaVision and classics Sesame Street, SNL, Game of Thrones, Jeopardy!, Grey’s Anatomy, The Simpsons, Loki and The Walking Dead. In films, Black Panther topped the top-ten most tweeted about, followed by Godzilla vs Kong, Zack Snyder’s Justice league, The Suicide Squad (2021), Spider-Man: No Way Out, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Black Widow, Dune, Mortal Kombat and Shrek. Superheroes, especially from the MCU, ruled.


“Across the globe, people on Twitter strengthened their bonds to their communities in 2021 — including social movements, fandoms, sports teams, and more — proving that connection transcended borders and screens,” said the social media platform in a post today. Its annual ranking of most-tweeted about, top-liked and most-shared tweets is bid to get that word out.

Twitter just saw its CEO Jack Dorsey step down suddenly. Former chief technology officer Parag Agarwal now has the reins and a mandate to innovate and grow the service, which had 211 million active users as of last quarter, a much smaller footprint than Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. It punches above its weight in terms of recognition but has had challenges monetizing and expanding the reach it has. In early 2021, Twitter also banned one of its biggest draws, former President Donald Trump, from the platform following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Its annual ranking of most-tweeted about, top liked and most shared tweets.

The Reality TV tweet champion was The Bachelor, followed by RuPaul’s Drag Race, The Voice, American Idol and The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Twitter noted the rise of Korean entertainment in the tweet-sphere, beside viral sensation Squid Game and extending to K-Pop group BTS — the top tweeted about among musicians globally and 4th in the U.S. It’s the top K-Pop band everywhere of course (followed Blackpink, Exo, NCT and Ateez — yes K-Pop got it’s own category in the ranking.)

After releasing Taylor’s Version of her music, Taylor Swift became the top most tweeted about female musician in the U.S. Beyoncé is no. 3 and Britney Spears, who had an eventful year, no. 9. Swift is also the #2 most tweeted about musician globally behind BTS. New album releases drove conversations around other most-tweeted about musicians in the U.S. led by Drake/Certified Loverboy, Kanye/ Donda and Lil Nas X/Montero.

The most-liked celebrity tweet in the U.S. (1.3M) came from from Simone Biles, who is also the top tweeted-about female athlete and most tweeted about Olympian in the nation. It’s an eclectic list. Celebrity tweet no. 2 was JoJo Siwa’s coming out tweet. 

The delayed Tokyo Olympics were the most tweeted about sporting event globally. Manchester United moved up a spot from 2020 to be the most discussed sports team worldwide, while the team’s Tweet welcoming Cristiano Ronaldo home was the second most Retweeted Tweet worldwide.

Nick Jr’s tweet celebrating Blue’s Clues’ 25th anniversary is the number 1  “Quote Tweet” in the U.S.


The 10 Best Netflix Original Series of 2021


From Joe Goldberg's stalking to Tim Robinson's antics, there was something for everyone on the streamer this past year.


By Lauren Kranc and Justin Kirkland | Dec 8, 2021




It’s been an interesting year for Netflix, once the undisputed Goliath of television streaming. As competitors like HBO Max and Apple TV+ bulked up their line-ups with captivating originals and classics alike, Netflix’s prestige television offering seemed to be dwindling. That is, until the back half of the year hit, when the platform dropped Squid Game and Maid like a one-two punch. Its rightful place as top dog was restored.

But if those two shows aren’t your cup of key, don’t worry. There was more. From the return of the teens of Moordale High to the introduction of a new Chair in the English Department at Pembroke University, Netflix has pumped out something for everyone in these past twelve months. We have no idea where the time has gone, but as we barrel on into the new year, it’s time we narrowed down the very best 10 original television shows that Netflix produced in 2021.


Maid, Squid Game, Sex Education, The Chair, I Think You Should Leave, Lupin, You, High on the Hog, The Serpent, Pretend It’s A City



Best of 2021 (Behind the Scenes): How Squid Game's killer robot became nightmare fuel


Director Hwang Dong-hyuk reveals it was almost even more traumatizing than how it appears onscreen in Netflix's hit Korean drama.

By Sydney Bucksbaum | December 09, 2021 at 03:00 PM EST

One of the biggest surprises of 2021 — already a year full of surprises (both great and terrible) — was Squid Game. In less than a month after its September release, Netflix's Korean survival drama went from completely unknown to must-see TV despite getting practically no official promotion. Viewers flocked via word-of-mouth to the bloody series about 456 down-on-their-luck people trying to win millions of dollars in a life-or-death competition of six playground games. Squid Game quickly became the streaming service's biggest series launch ever and the first Korean series to hit No. 1 in the U.S. It topped the charts in all 94 countries where Netflix has a top 10 list. It was, in short, an international phenomenon.

Squid Game accomplished a lot in bringing Korean representation into mainstream pop culture. It introduced well-known Korean stars like Lee Jung-jae to a global audience. And one of the biggest breakouts of the series was a giant killer robot overseeing a brutal five-minute round of Red Light, Green Light for the first game. The four-meter-tall doll detects anyone who moves — or even flinches — after stopping, and contestants are shot dead on the spot, alerting everyone in the game for the first time that losing has fatal consequences. It's the show's first of many jaw-dropping reveals, made all the more impactful by how terrifying the motion-sensing robot looks.

But it turns out the killer robot was almost even more traumatizing than how it actually appears onscreen. EW spoke with Squid Game creator/director Hwang Dong-hyuk about how the robot was brought to life — and how other aspects of the series have taken the world by storm.



'Squid Game' | CREDIT: NETFLIX

When the giant killer robot makes her debut near the end of the first episode of Squid Game, her laser focus motion sensor technology is the reason why over half the players die almost immediately — and in the bloodiest, most violent ways imaginable. Her head rotates 360 degrees to catch anyone who moves and her eyes are cameras, making sure no one escapes her murderous sight. She's pure nightmare fuel. And the fact that she's designed to look like a childlike doll makes her even scarier.

"We were really wrestling with what kind of design to come up with but there was an agreement that we wanted to create a child character for the robot," Hwang tells EW. "Our production designer actually had the idea of using the character Younghee, which comes from an elementary school textbook that every single Korean learns from. I thought that was a really great idea."

And the first version of Younghee was actually even more horrifying — if you can believe it. "When I wrote it in the first draft of my script, I actually envisioned about 10 smaller robots about one meter tall," Hwang says. "I thought about putting them in line, about 10 of them. But through many conversations with the team, I felt that it'd be better to go with one huge robot that's more symbolic. I felt like that would be more powerful." Mission accomplished.

As for that catchy Red Light, Green Light melody that went viral on TikTok, that's another concept Hwang borrowed from a childhood memory. "This is not something that we had to come up with because this has been passed on through generations of children," he says. "That's exactly the melody that we use when we play that game that has been translated into Red Light, Green Light. Any Korean child knows of this melody. That directly translates to 'the mugunghwa flower has blossomed.' Mugunghwa is the national flower that represents Korea."



Lee Jung-jae on 'Squid Game' | CREDIT: NETFLIX

Along with the Red Light, Green Light doll and melody, Squid Game continued to subvert many other ideas from youth into something deadly throughout the entire season. "The basic concept that guided the overall decisions of creating the look and feel of the show is that we go back to our childhood," Hwang says. That's why all the players wear green tracksuits: "One thing that I had always known, ever since I wrote the first draft, was that I wanted all of the participants to be in tracksuits because in Korea, when we were kids in school for P.E. we all changed into these tracksuits."

Not long after Squid Game's Sept. 17 premiere, the green tracksuits and the doll were everywhere. Obsessed fans wore Squid Game costumes for Halloween, flocked to giant replicas of Younghee in cities around the world, played real-life versions of the games (without fatal consequences, of course), and danced to remixes of the Red Light, Green Light melody at massive music festivals. Watching fans bring Squid Game to life in the real world left Hwang "in awe."

"Throughout the production process, we would talk about it — how if the show did well, maybe there's going to be people who want to play Red Light, Green Light," Hwang says. "We had heard that with the success of Netflix's Korean series Kingdom there was this fad of 'gat,' which is the traditional Korean hats featured in the show. So we were thinking we might have to get ready to sell some dalgona (the honeycomb). We were half joking, but it was more coming from a place where we really hoped that people would love what we created rather than expecting what would happen."




Hwang believes this response means being a TV fan "has become something greater than just watching a series and enjoying it" and applies to more than just how much people love Squid Game.

"Seeing the costumes, watching people actually wanting to play the games physically, and the remix of our music being played and enjoyed by so many people at the EDM festivals, I feel like content is no longer something that you just watch and enjoy," he says. "It has evolved into something that you share with other people and enjoy together with everyone as part of pop culture. Even being the creator of this, I still am amazed. It's truly inexplicable."

But after the year (and a half) we've all had, it makes sense that a TV show would take over our lives in the real world too. Even if it involves a giant killer robot.

A version of this story appears in Entertainment Weekly's January issue, on newsstands Dec. 17 and available to order here. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.


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