Squid Game’s Lee Jung-jae, Hwang Dong-hyuk receive South Korea’s highest cultural medals


Lee Jung-jae portrayed a down-and-out gambler in the dystopian Netflix series. Photo: AP

Megahit K-drama Squid Game’s lead actor Lee Jung-jae and its director Hwang Dong-hyuk have been bestowed with South Korea’s highest cultural accolade.

On Dec 27, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol awarded them the Geumgwan Order of Cultural Merit, which is given to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the development of culture and the arts.

He also sent congratulatory messages to them prior to the ceremony.

Yoon commented on Hwang’s “fierce efforts and talent” throughout his career.

He cited the 51-year-old director’s work on movies such as the influential crime drama Silenced (2011), which led to the abolishment of the statute of limitations for sex crimes against minors and disabled people; and hit comedy-drama Miss Granny (2014), about a woman in her 70s who finds herself in the body of her 20-year-old self after having her photo taken.

Yoon also praised Lee, 50, for his “remarkable performance” in the award-winning Squid Game.

Lee portrayed a down-and-out gambler in the dystopian Netflix series about players forced to participate in deadly childhood games, which became a huge global phenomenon in 2021.

In September, Lee became the first Asian to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, while Hwang took home the prize for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series at the same ceremony.

Squid Game is Netflix’s most-watched series, amassing 1.65 billion viewing hours within the first four weeks of its premiere on the streaming platform. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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