Lee Jung-Jae with his Emmy

Lee Jung-jae and ‘Squid Game’ Make History at the 2022 Emmy Awards

Lee Jung-jae has become quite the name in Hollywood since he came running into our lives (literally) on Squid Game as Seong Gi-hun (or player 456). We watched as he struggled to survive murderous game after murderous game in the name of saving himself (and his relationship with his daughter) and it was a beautifully desperate performance of a man trying to make his life right at whatever cost necessary. Lee Jung-jae rightfully deserves the nominations and praise he’s been getting and now he has taken home the Best Actor in a Drama Series award at the 2022 Emmy Awards!

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He makes history as being the first actor in a foreign language drama to take home the Best Actor in a Drama Series Emmy. He is joined in winning with Squid Game director Hwang Dong-hyuk (who won for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series).

In his speech, Lee Jung-jae highlighted the fact that the series brought to life a struggle many of us face in a new and creative way that shined a light on the subject. So many are in financial ruin or struggling to maintain their lives in this world and are trapped by it and Squid Game turned a bright light on what that can do to a person.


When Hwang Dong-hyuk won, he shared his hope that this wouldn’t be the last time a non-English speaking series won big at the Emmy Awards. And it shouldn’t be. Shows like Squid Game prove that the Western award show circuit has consistently left out programs worthy of praise and attention simply because they’re not in English. Squid Game has proven that that shouldn’t matter and when a show is as powerful and moving as something like Squid Game is, it deserves all the recognition and awards.

Squid Game forced everyone to question the lengths they’d go in order to save themselves, their families, and what they’d do to get a dream life that is debt free. The premise had many returning to the ways of our childhood games but the deeper message in the series is one that stays with its audience after we’ve finished the show and seeing the success that the cast is now getting in Western media (like Lee Jung-jae joining the cast of The Acolyte in the Star Wars universe) is absolutely incredible. I can’t wait to see what season 2 of Squid Game brings us and I hope it continues to usher in more non-English speaking shows getting the recognition they deserve.

(image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.