Squid Game's Lee Jung-Jae Made History At The 2022 Emmys

"Squid Game" star Lee Jung-Jae accepted his Emmy Award for Lead Actor in a Drama Series tonight, making the actor the first Korean performer to ever win in the category. It's been a history-making evening in general for the Netflix mega-hit, as the 14-time-nominated series also took home an award for directing in a competition that has historically left non-English-language series out in the cold.

Lee took to the stage to accept the award after Ariana DeBose excitedly shouted his name. The actor thanked God, the Academy, and Netflix before shouting out Hwang Dong-hyuk "for making realistic problems we all face come to life so creatively on the screen with a great script and amazing visuals." The series, which follows contestants who compete in a life-or-death game show for a chance to escape poverty, has gained acclaim for its cutting social commentary in addition to its thrills and action.

The Squid Game love continues

The actor shared a brief message of thanks to Korean viewers in his native tongue, and the Emmys' new supplementary chyron also included a pre-written message of thanks from the winner. The South Korean series' crossover success hopefully marks a turning point for American award shows, which have rarely ever shone the spotlight on non-English series. In addition to Lee, his "Squid Game" costars Park Hae-soo, Oh Young-soo, and Jung Ho-yeon were all nominated in major acting categories this year, while Lee You-mi won for her guest spot.

"Squid Game" also dominated the Creative Arts Emmys last week, taking home trophies for special effects, stunt performance, and production design. Filmmaker Hwang took to the stage earlier this evening to accept the Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series award for "Red Light, Green Light." The title of that episode refers to the deadly game characters play in the show, which Lee and co-star Jung jokingly played earlier in the evening while presenting an award to the "Saturday Night Live" team.

An international phenomenon with a second season on the way, "Squid Game" is now officially Netflix's most popular show of all time. In its first month on the streamer alone, people reportedly watched 1.65 billion hours of the series. And while award shows often subconsciously seem to suffer from recency bias, rewarding titles that came out within recent memory, "Squid Game" stayed on voters' minds since last September. In fact, next week marks a year since the hit show's release — what better way to celebrate than with a well-earned trophy?