Lee Jung-jae says ‘Squid Game’ resonating with viewers is ‘hugely sad’

  • Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun in the hit Netflix series “Squid Game,” admitted that although he is grateful to be part of the show, he finds it worrying that viewers consider its dark themes to be relatable.
  • “I’m happy about it, of course, but it’s bittersweet,” the Emmy award-winning actor told The Guardian after his action-packed movie “Hunt” opened the London East Asian Film Festival on Oct. 19.
  • “Yes, it’s great that audiences are consuming Korean content around the world. And they appreciate it,” he continued. “But if you think about the themes of ‘Squid Game’ – how far are we willing to go to accumulate personal wealth; the lengths people are forced to go to – the fact it resonated with so many around the world is worrying.
  • “You get a sense this is the reality for so many people globally. And that makes me feel hugely sad,” he added.
  • He also revealed that the show, created and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, made a mark on him personally.
  • “I do think about what happened in that show,” Lee shared. “It’s impossible not to. And it made me think about what I’m not doing. Many of us live obliviously. It made me rethink how I look at the world. It couldn’t not.”

Netflix’s hit series “Squid Game” has evoked a wide range of emotions from its viewers, from sadness after watching beloved characters die to relief after seeing main protagonist Seong Gi-hun, played by Lee Jung-jae, turn his life around.

For Lee, however, it is worrying that viewers consider the dark themes of the show, created and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, to be relatable.

Speaking to The Guardian after his action-packed movie “Hunt” opened the London East Asian Film Festival on Oct. 19, the 49-year-old acting veteran admitted he is grateful to be part of the massive Netflix series. But although that may be the case, he also shared that he felt worried about how the series has resonated with its viewers.

I’m happy about it, of course, but it’s bittersweet,” the Emmy award-winning actor told The Guardian.

Yes, it’s great that audiences are consuming Korean content around the world. And they appreciate it,” he continued. “But if you think about the themes of ‘Squid Game’ – how far are we willing to go to accumulate personal wealth; the lengths people are forced to go to – the fact it resonated with so many around the world is worrying. You get a sense this is the reality for so many people globally. And that makes me feel hugely sad.”

Lee revealed that the show’s cast members had to endure a lot to convey a range of emotions onscreen.

And we had to express the experiences of these characters being pushed to those extremes. Doing that? It was terrible,” Lee shared. The more beautiful the game set was, and the more childish and fun it seemed, the more horrific it was for the characters, and therefore us as actors.”

Squid Game,” which became Netflix’s most-watched series launch of all time, has helped catapult some of its cast members’ careers, particularly that of Jung Ho-yeon, runway showstopper-turned-actor. Jung, who won a SAG Award in February, made history in September after becoming the first Korean featured in the Time100 Next list.

While the series brought a lot of success for its cast, Lee said the series made a mark on him personally as well.

“I do think about what happened in that show,” Lee said. “It’s impossible not to. And it made me think about what I’m not doing. Many of us live obliviously. It made me rethink how I look at the world. It couldn’t not.”

Though “Squid Game” Season 2 has already been confirmed, details about it are still being kept under wraps, aside from a teaser that new game mechanics will be introduced, as well the return of Gong Yoo’s “suit man with ddakji.”

Local reports have suggested that Lee will receive 1 billion won (approximately $700,000) for each episode of the show’s second season. Last month, veteran Hong Kong actor Tony Leung met up with Hwang, instantly sparking Season 2 casting rumors.

 

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