O Yeong-su wins South Korea’s first Golden Globe for ‘Squid Game’ role
SEOUL — South Korean actor O Yeong-su won the country’s first Golden Globe award on Sunday for his role in Netflix hit “Squid Game,” drawing cheers at home and abroad despite criticism on the ceremony’s organizers over a lack of diversity.
O, 77, won best supporting actor in television for his portrayal of Oh II-nam, also known as The Host or Player 001, becoming the first South Korean ever to snatch a Golden Globe.
He beat more globally renowned competitors including Billy Crudup and Kieran Culkin, who were respectively nominated for their performances in “The Morning Show” and “Succession.”
This year’s ceremony was held privately without the usual glitzy fanfare after many actors, directors, and film studios refused to attend amid criticism that its organizer, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, lacked decent ethics policies and ethnic diversity.
“After hearing the news, I told myself for the first time, ‘you’re a nice dude’,” O said in a statement released by Netflix.
“It’s no longer us within the world, it’s the world within us. Embracing the scent of our culture and the love for my family, thank all of you in the world. I wish you a beautiful life.”
O’s achievement came after Youn Yuh-jung won best supporting actress at last year’s Academy Awards, the first South Korean to win an Oscar, for her role in “Minari,” a heartfelt Korean immigrant tale.
Although Netflix did not submit the hit series to compete at the Golden Globe Awards, it was nominated for three Golden Globes last December — best drama series, best television actor – drama and best supporting actor – television — under the event organizer‘s new rule that allows for work that was not submitted to be reviewed and nominated.
The “Squid Game” team did not win the other two prizes for which it was nominated.
President Moon Jae-in congratulated O and the drama’s crew, saying “Squid Game” gave hope for humanity despite its gloomy depiction of society.
“Squid Game,” in which cash-strapped contestants play childhood games with deadly consequences in a bid to win 45.6 billion won ($38.1 million), became a worldwide sensation and Netflix’s biggest original series launch.
In the nine-part show, O posed as a frail, harmless old man, before eventually revealing his true identity as the sinister orchestrator of the games.
The dystopian drama has inspired countless real-world recreations and social media memes in South Korea, including his use of the term “kkanbu,” which roughly translates as “friend,” propelling his popularity as a hippy “kkanbu grandpa.”
Born in 1944 in what is now a North Korean border town of Kaepung, O is regarded as one of the greatest stage actors in South Korea, appearing in more than 200 stage productions since 1963 and winning a number of major awards.
He has also played many charismatic supporting characters in film and television, including in “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring” released in 2003 by late award-winning director Kim Ki-duk.
O’s portrayals of a Buddhist monk in that 2003 movie and others won him the nickname “monk actor” and several television commercials.
He said during a TV appearance in October that he had decided to join “Squid Game” out of appreciation for the director’s insight over social irregularities.
“Our society goes by as if only No. 1 survives. No. 2 lost to No. 1, but beat No. 3. After all, everybody is a winner,” he said then.
Reflecting its global success, “Squid Game” has won multiple awards at American award events.
In November, the series won the breakthrough series’ long format category at the 2021 Gotham Awards.
Also, Hwang’s work clinched the bingeworthy show of 2021 award at People’s Choice Awards in December. The show was nominated with strong competitors like Disney+‘s “Loki,” Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso,” Netflix‘s “Sex/Life” and HBO’s crime drama “Mare of Easttown.”
The American Film Institute selected “Squid Game” as one of the three winners of special honor in December last year as well. “Belfast” and “Summer of Soul” were also recognized as the “works of excellence that fall outside of the Institute’s criteria of American film and television” along with “Squid Game.”
Meanwhile, the director and the casts of “Squid Game” did not attend the Golden Globe Awards, which has been facing backlash due to allegations of racism and sexism. Many major media firms were reluctant to be part of the awards and did not submit their works for the award.
In response to the scandal, the Golden Globe Awards’ longtime broadcaster NBC also did not air the 79th Golden Globe Awards.
In a toned down presentation without audiences and a red carpet event, the ceremony was held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. KGA/JB
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