SEOUL — First it was the film “Parasite.” Then Yuh-Jung Youn, the star of “Minari.” Now, “Squid Sport.”
The dystopian Netflix drama’s success on the Emmys on Tuesday — together with the highest appearing prize for its star, Lee Jung-jae, a primary for a foreign-language present — was greeted with cheers in South Korea and hailed as the newest instance of the nation’s rise as a cultural powerhouse.
Main Korean information shops resembling MBC and Yonhap made the information the lead story on their web sites. Chosun Ilbo, one of many nation’s largest newspapers, stated “Squid Sport” had written a “new historical past in Okay-drama.”
“It looks as if South Korean productions are getting an increasing number of acknowledged internationally, which makes me excited,” stated Lee Jae, a business producer in Seoul, who binge-watched the collection as quickly because it got here out final yr.
Within the present, which was produced by Netflix and have become its most watched collection ever, 456 determined contestants are pitted in opposition to each other to the demise for a money prize of almost $40 million. Gamers should survive by way of a number of rounds of youngsters’s video games with a purpose to win.
After its launch final September, the present skyrocketed to recognition, turning into a sensation in not solely South Korea but in addition on a world scale. On the time, the collection outperformed different widespread non-English reveals like “Cash Heist” and “Lupin,” in keeping with Ted Sarandos, a co-chief govt officer and chief content material officer for Netflix. At a business conference final yr, he stated that “Squid Sport” was “blowing previous all of them.”
The present’s success is the newest in a string of worldwide accolades for South Korean productions. In 2020, “Parasite,” the category satire directed by Bong Joon Ho, turned the primary foreign-language film to win the Academy Award for Finest Movie. Final yr, Youn, a veteran Korean star, the most effective supporting actress Oscar for her function in “Minari,” the movie a few hard-luck household of Korean immigrants in the US.
These earlier awards signaled a rising acceptance of foreign-language productions, stated Daniel Martin, a movie research professor on the Korea Superior Institute of Science and Expertise. He stated the success of “Squid Sport” on the Emmys may very well be “an indication of hopefully a generational change.”
Whereas audiences may “return to not caring about non-English content material, ‘Squid Sport’s’ win reveals that viewers are receptive to Korean content material, which is encouraging,” Martin stated.
South Korea has emerged as an leisure juggernaut in recent times, fascinating worldwide audiences with Okay-pop bands resembling BTS, in addition to hit TV reveals and critically acclaimed films.
Most just lately, “Extraordinary Legal professional Woo,” a Korean feel-good present a few younger autistic lawyer, has been essentially the most watched non-English-language program on Netflix prior to now a number of weeks.
For “Squid Sport,” the Emmys are solely its newest achievement. In February, the drama scooped up a number of prizes on the Display screen Actors Guild Awards, together with lead performer honors for Lee and Jung Ho-yeon.
Lee, who is taken into account probably the most profitable actors in South Korea, started his profession as a mannequin earlier than starring in quite a lot of hit Korean movies, enjoying characters together with romantic leads and cutthroat gangsters. His directorial debut, “Hunt,” an espionage thriller, was launched in South Korea final month.
On social media and on-line boards, his followers poured on the reward.
“To South Korea’s Lee Jung-jae! Congratulations on profitable the most effective lead actor. You’re an actor who provides his all into his work and to his followers. I applaud you, somebody whose arduous work deserves such accomplishments,” stated one fan on Twitter.
“Wow, Lee Jung-jae gained the award for greatest actor. He actually is superb,” one other fan tweeted.
In his acceptance speech, Lee acknowledged the assist of his followers at dwelling and their love for the present. “I’d wish to share this honor with my household, pals and our valuable followers watching from South Korea. Thanks!” he stated.