It seems like the world can’t stop talking about squid gameeven months after its premiere in 2021. With the recent historic Emmy nominations, director and creator Hwang Dong-hyuk reflects on the creative process of K-drama. The mastermind of Squid Game discusses the search for its lead actor, and when he realized Seong Gi-hun wasn’t a villain at heart.
Seong Gi-hun makes bad life choices in “Squid Game”
South Korean actor Lee Jung-jae brought to life the role of Seong Gi-hun in Squid game. The somewhat K-drama protagonist isn’t the sinless angel one might expect. When first introduced, it didn’t make the best impression. Fans have seen him having a gambling problem and cannot hold down a job or his money. Above all, it rubbed fans when he asked his mother for money.
The money was intended to help pay for a birthday present for his young daughter. But the seduction of the game gets the better of Gi-hun. He makes a bet and wins even more, but the loan sharks chase him, beat him and steal his winnings.
With no money and no other options, her plans to keep her promise to her daughter fall apart. To offer him something more, he will win a prize at the claw machines. Gi-hun is by far not the most moral person in the world or squid gamebut Hwang reveals that the claw game scene is what convinced him the character still had a good heart.
Gi-hun’s jubilee of winning a gift for his daughter made him an anti-hero in ‘Squid Game’
It is undeniable that the participants in the Games are not angels and have committed their wrongs. Gi-hun is unexpected and has become the anti-hero of K-drama. In an interview with the Los Angeles TimeHwang explains that the claw scene convinced him that Gi-hun would be a character fans would resonate with.
“There’s a first scene where you see Gi-hun when he lost his money and he doesn’t have much left to buy a present for his daughter, so he goes to this place where you can choose the dolls in the machines,” sad Hwang. “You see him being incredibly happy, holding and hugging the boy who does this for him. As soon as I saw Jung-jae perform this scene, I was completely convinced that people would definitely fall in love with this character. To see this pure, childlike joy in this middle-aged man, I could imagine Gi-hun being himself after joining the game as well. No matter how flawed he was – he would continue to steal his mother’s money – people would see this purity and beauty that he holds within him.
The squid game the director explains the contradictions Moral of Gi-hun, and his life choices made the character complex. Gi-hun is someone who “regrets” his decisions. If Gi-hun was a hero all along, he would be “one-dimensional and superficial”.
Lee Jung-jae was perfect for the main character of the K-drama
Despite Hwang’s reputation on the big screen, he admits he was hit on by Lee. Sending him the script for the K-drama, Hwang was thrilled that the actor was interested. He heard a lot “no” responses since 2009.
Hwang and Lee are close in age, with the director in his early 50s and Lee at 49. Since turning 20, Hwang has watched Lee become one of Korea’s most recognizable names on screen.
“For about three decades, as he shone on screen in charismatic roles, there was something I saw in him when he played these flawed characters that really stood out, that I thought was extraordinary. That sense of humor. I thought it would be the perfect mix to bring Gi-hun to life,” Hwang explained.
Just like the rest of the world, Lee can’t help but praise the squid game creator and the history he created. K-drama has come a long way to become history work. Hwang is still stunned by his success but admits, “I think the journey of doing squid game is more dramatic than the show itself. The same can be said of squid game Season 2as Hwang was writing the script during the Emmy nominations and said reshooting the hit story would be a challenge.