Lee Jung-jae took home Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series at Monday night’s Emmys for his role in Netflix’s global smash Squid Game, besting the likes of Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk and Succession’s Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox. In the process, he made history as the first Asian man to win the Lead Actor Emmy.
For his role as Seong Gi-hun, a divorced father and deep-in-debt gambler who’s lured into a deadly game of survival with a huge cash prize, Lee has emerged as the breakout star of Squid Game, which still ranks as Netflix’s most-watched series ever (even though he’s had a storied career in Korea for decades, including Grand Bell and Baeksang awards). Lee is arguably the most recognizable Korean actor in the world right now—and his star will rise even higher after landing a leading role in The Acolyte, an upcoming Star Wars show.
But if we’re going to use Lee to celebrate everything that’s great and different about Korean TV, we also need to acknowledge everything else he represents—including how, similar to the West, male Korean stars enjoy the benefits of an industry that bends over backward to protect and preserve their image.
Source: The Daily Beast
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