Squid Game, Parasite… South Korean cinema speaks internationally – Strategies

The global success of the Netflix series Squid Game and of Parasite, Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019, is the result of the patient work of South Korean filmmakers who have been able to tell the story of the universal themes of violence and the race for performance, believes Lee Jung-jae, recently crowned with the Emmy Award for Best Actor.

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We are very happy that this work, which is not in English, was able to reach an international audience. “, welcomed the star of Squid Game in an interview with AFP given a few days after his triumph at the Emmys. The South Korean made history by becoming the first non-English speaking actor to win the prestigious distinction for his role in this series, which has become the most viewed program on the Netflix streaming platform.

Everyone in South Korea is so happy, I keep getting congratulatory messages. When I get back, I’m going to have a ton of interviews and things to do! “, confided Lee Jung-jae, met at the Toronto International Film Festival, the biggest meeting of the seventh art in North America.

deadly struggle

Squid Game is a fierce critique of capitalism, where 456 wretches and rejects of society compete at the risk of their lives to win millions in children’s games like One, two, three, sun. Her Emmys triumph follows the unexpected success ofParasite who had won the Oscar for best film in 2020, an extremely rare performance for a non-English-speaking production.

For a long time, South Korean cinema was trying to find the recipe to reach an international audience. This years of hard work is starting to pay off, we are now seeing a lot of high quality content resonating around the world and getting critical acclaim. observes Lee Jung-jae. real phenomenon of society, Squid Game will be the subject of a second season. Its director Hwang Dong-hyuk is finishing it and according to enigmatic Lee Jung-jae, his character Seong Gi-hun “ will be completely different in this opus.


But before the madness Squid Game does not take over the screens of the planet again, Lee Jung-jae Lee makes his directorial debut with Hunt, his first feature film which he presented this week at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). This spy film, set during the Cold War, looks back on real political events that took place in South Korea in the 1980s, such as the attempted assassination of a South Korean president, or the defection of a pilot North Korean.

This feature film shares certain themes with Squid Gameaccording to Lee Jung-jae, including how “ an overly competitive society can cause people to hurt each other “. Hunt already topped the box office in South Korea. It will launch in theaters across North America and on video-on-demand platforms on December 2.


However, cultural differences persist and it was necessary to adapt Hunt to conquer Western audiences, as the first reviews, during the presentation of the film this summer at the Cannes Film Festival, pointed to a plot only understandable to South Koreans. But for Lee Jung-jae, this should not make us forget that now South Korean culture ” is well understood abroad », thanks to technological interconnection, from streaming to video games and social networks.

In South Korea, we watch a lot of content from abroad, it’s very natural for us “, he observes. ” The world is much closer to us now, and the particular history of South Korea is no longer complicated for foreign audiences to understand. » « With a world growing together, ever closer, it is less difficult to understand the emotions of others, be it pain or pain. ‘Cause we live in a world where emotions are shared instantly concludes the South Korean actor-director.

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Squid Game, Parasite… South Korean cinema speaks internationally – Strategies