‘Squid Game’ director and lead star awarded South Korea’s highest cultural medal

Squid Game cast

Squid Game director Hwang Dong-hyuk and lead star Lee Jung-jae have been awarded South Korea’s highest national cultural medal for their work on the series.

South Korean news outlet Yonhap News Agency reported yesterday (December 27) that South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol presented the Geumgwan Order of Cultural Merit – which is the highest class of cultural decoration – to both Hwang and Lee in his office in Seoul, as a token of commendation for their “role in the national film industry”.

Alongside the bestowal of the medals, President Yoon also sent congratulatory messages to both Hwang and Lee. He praised the former for the “fierce efforts and talent” he has displayed throughout his career with other films such as Silenced and Miss Granny, which eventually led to him bagging the Best Director Emmy Award for Squid Game in September. President Yoon also praised Lee for his “remarkable performance” on the series, saying he merged his character and the hearts of viewers.

In September, Lee also took home the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series award at this year’s Emmy Awards for his performance as Seong Gi-hun on Squid Game. This marked the first time an Asian actor has won the award.

“Thank you to Director Hwang for making realistic problem[s] we all face come to life so creatively on the screen, with a great script and amazing visuals,” Lee said in his acceptance speech upon receiving the award. “To everyone watching from Korea, my friends, family, and dearest fans, I want to share this joy with you. Thank you.”

Filming for the hit Netflix series’ much-anticipated second season is set to begin in early 2023, with an alleged release window slated for sometime at the end of 2024. Lee Jung-jae will allegedly reprise his role in the upcoming instalment, and will continue to be its primary focus. The Frontman (played by Lee Byung-hun), as well as Gong Yoo’s cameo character, were also reported to be returning to the show.

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