Lee Jung-Jae and Jung Ho-Yeon, two of the stars in the Netflix global sensation “Squid Game,” made history at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night, becoming the first actors from a non-English language show to win in their respective categories.
Lee won Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series, while Jung received the same award but for female actor. As each win was announced, their fellow cast members excitedly cheered them on.
“This is truly huge that’s happened to me,” Lee said in his acceptance speech. “Thank you to the global audience, all of your love for ‘Squid Game.’”
In her speech, Jung thanked the other actors in the room, telling them, “[You] make me dream and open the door for me.”
On the red carpet, Lee talked about the significance of getting recognized by fellow actors.
“In Korea, we also have a small award that’s given to you by your fellow actors in Korea, and that’s very highly coveted. Every actor wants to receive that award,” he said. “To be here for an award session that’s voted on by American actors, we’re extremely humbled and extremely happy to be here.”
When it premiered on Netflix last fall, the South Korean drama and thriller series become a runaway word-of-mouth hit with its riveting premise (drawing from a Korean children’s game) and themes about income inequality and survival. It became one of the streaming platform’s most watched series ever.
The “Squid Game” wins continue an exciting streak of Korean representation at the SAG Awards and in Hollywood at large. In 2020, “Parasite” began its historic awards season run after winning the SAG Award for best ensemble. The movie went on to nab major wins at the Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. But unlike “Squid Game,” none of the “Parasite” stars received individual acting nominations, part of a long history of Asian erasure in Hollywood. The “Squid Game” accolades, as well as “Minari” star Youn Yuh-jung’s SAG win for best supporting actress last year, have started to upend that pattern of exclusion — which will hopefully mean more individual recognition for Korean and other Asian actors.