The world can’t seem to stop talking about squid game, even months after its 2021 premiere. With recent landmark Emmy nominations, director and creator Hwang Dong-hyuk looks back on the K-drama’s creation process. Squid Game’s mastermind talks about finding his lead actor, and when he realized that Seong Gi-hun wasn’t a bad guy deep down.
Seong Gi-hun makes poor life decisions on ‘Squid Game’
South Korean actor Lee Jung-jae played the role of Seong Gi-hun in Squid game. The leading man of the K-drama is not the sinless angel one would expect. At the first presentation, he did not make the best impression. Fans saw him having a gambling problem and he can’t keep a job or his money. Most of all, he upset the fans when he asked his mother for money.
The money was intended to help pay for a birthday present for her young daughter. But the seduction of the game gets the best of Gi-hun. He places a bet and wins even more, but the loan sharks chase him down, beat him up and steal his winnings from him.
With no money and no other options, his plans to keep his promise to his daughter go down the drain. To give him something of hers, she is going to win a prize in the claw machines. Gi-hun is by no means the most moral person in the world or squid gamebut Hwang reveals that the claw game scene is what convinced him that the character was still good deep down.
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Gi-hun’s jubilee of winning a gift for his daughter made him an anti-hero in ‘Squid Game’
It cannot be denied that the participants in the Games are not angels and have made their mistakes. Gi-hun is no expectation and became the anti-hero of the K-drama. In an interview with the LA Times, Hwang explains that the claw scene convinced him that Gi-hun would be a character that fans would resonate with.
“There’s an early scene where you see Gi-hun when he’s lost his money and he doesn’t have much left to buy a present for his daughter, so he goes to that place where you can pick up the dolls from the machines, sad Hwang. “You see him incredibly happy, holding and hugging the boy who does that for him. The moment I saw Jung-jae perform that scene, he was completely convinced that people would fall in love with this character for sure. To see such pure, childlike joy in this middle-aged man, he could imagine Gi-hun being himself after joining the game as well. No matter how imperfect he was, he would continue to steal his mother’s money from him, people would see that purity and beauty that he has within himself.”
the squid game The director explains Gi-hun’s contradictory morality, and his life choices made the character complex. Gi-hun is someone who “regrets” his decisions. If Gi-hun was a hero from the start, he would be “one-dimensional and shallow”.
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Lee Jung-jae was perfect for the main character in the K-drama.
Despite Hwang’s reputation on the big screen, he admits that he was impressed by Lee. When he sent him the script for the K-drama, Hwang was excited that the actor was interested. He has heard many negative responses since 2009.
Hwang and Lee are close in age, with the director in his early 50s and Lee in his 49s. Since his 20s, Hwang has seen Lee become one of Korea’s household names on screen.
“For some 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 found extraordinary. That sense of humor. I thought it would be the perfect mix to bring Gi-hun to life,” explained Hwang.
Just like the rest of the world, Lee can’t help but praise the squid game creator and the story he created. K-drama has come a long way to become a landmark work. Hwang is still stunned by his success, but admits, “I think the journey of making squid game it’s more dramatic than the show itself.” The same can be said of squid game Season 2 as Hwang was writing the script during the Emmy nominations and said that picking up the success story will be a challenge.
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