Last year, when he won the Academy Award for Parasite, filmmaker Bong Joon Ho urged everyone to overcome the one-inch barrier of the subtitles in order to enjoy new and amazing stories. Well, if Korean Netflix series Squid Game is any indication, we’re starting to make some effort to obey the director. In case you’ve been away from the internet for the past couple of weeks, it’s the only show social media wants to talk about.
The story follows a group of over 450 people who are deep in debt. As they’ll take any opportunity to make some money and turn their lives around, they decide to accept an invitation to participate in a deadly competition. Every round is inspired by a popular children’s game, and relatively simple to play. However, the stakes are as high as they can be: if you don’t make it past each round, you die. If you manage to get through all six rounds, though, you can walk away from the insane scenario with a prize sum of 45.6 billion Won, which is roughly 38 million dollars. And who participates in all this? You’ll find out here.
Seong Gi-hun (Jung-jae Lee): Player 456
Highly addicted to gambling, Gi-hun has accumulated a lot of debt, owes money to mobsters, and thinks he’s one game away from winning big bucks to pay his way out. He lives with his mother and only gets to see his 10-year-old daughter every once in a while. Everything changes when he is challenged at the subway to play a simple game and ends up invited to participate in a higher-stakes competition.
Jung-jae Lee has been acting in Korean cinema ever since the 90s. His breakthrough role was in 1998`s An Affair, one of the highest-grossing Korean films that year and which made it to international film festivals. He’s a seven-time nominee of the Baek Sang Arts Awards, which celebrates achievements on TV, films, and theater in South Korea.
Cho Sang-woo (Hae-soo Park): Player 218
Incredibly intelligent, Cho Sang-woo is the pride of his mother, who talks about her son every chance she gets. She thinks he’s away at college, but in truth, Sang-woo went into hiding after he abused his position as head of investments at a security company to steal money from clients. The police are also after him.
Hae-soo Park has been on some Netflix originals such as the miniseries Persona and Prison Playbook, as well as the Netflix film Time to Hunt. If you can’t get enough of him on Squid Game, you’ll see him again soon: he will play Berlin in the Korean version of the hit series Money Heist (La Casa de Papel).
Kang Sae-byeok (Hoyeon Jung): Player 067
An incredibly skilled pickpocket and very resourceful player, Kang Sae-byeok ran away from the dictatorship of North Korea along with her family, but not everyone made it to South Korea alive. On top of that, the remaining members were separated, and she had to fend for herself while trying to bring everyone together.
Runner-up to Korea`s Next Top Model in 2013, Hoyeon Jung became a supermodel and has signed with Louis Vitton, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, Paco Rabanne, and many others. Squid Game is her acting debut, and the show`s popularity propelled her to the status of most followed Korean actress on Instagram, with over 13 million followers.
Oh Il-Nam (Yeong-su Oh): Player 001
In the large group of players whose ages range between the 20s and 40s, Oh Il-nam stands out as the eldest: he’s approaching the end of his life and was recently diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor that has caused some dementia episodes. However, Il-nam decides to enter the game as his last adventure and shows he has one or two tricks up his sleeve.
A long-time theater actor, Yeong-su Oh has played important characters like King Lear and Faust on stage, but hasn’t devoted much of his career to cinema and TV. He was featured in the cast of highly acclaimed Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring, and Squid Game is only the fourth TV series he’s appeared in.
Jang Deok-su (Heo Sung-tae): Player 101
A psychopath gangster who entered the game to settle his own debts. He forms and breaks alliances as needed, and believes it’s every person for themselves in the competition. He also doesn’t care if he can pass every round by cheating, as long as he stays alive.
Heo Sung-tae decided to go into acting a little over a decade ago, at age 35, and he became known in Korea after his character in the thriller The Age of Shadows got famously slapped by Parasite‘s Song Kang-ho, which he himself convinced the fellow actor to do. The slapping scene was not in the script.
Abdul Ali (Anupam Tripathi): Player 199
A Pakistani man living in Korea, Abdul Ali wants to be able to provide for his family after a long stretch of receiving no income whatsoever. Despite living through many episodes of prejudice, he chooses not to be bitter and is one of the most trustworthy players in the game.
Anupam Tripathi was born in New Delhi and moved to South Korea on a scholarship from the Korea National University of Arts, and stayed in the country ever since. He’s played migrant workers in the majority of his projects.
Han Mi-nyeo (Joo-ryeong Kim): Player 212
A woman who has learned to quickly adapt in order to survive, Mi-nyeo quickly learns the ins and outs of the Squid Game and realizes that if she is careful and pays close attention to the environment around her, she can get away with pretty much anything. Her game style is to keep enemies as close as possible.
Joo-ryeong Kim had a small role in one of the most internationally acclaimed Korean films: Memories of Murder was the movie that made director Bong Joon Ho world-renowned, and ever since then she`s been in over two dozen films.
Hwang Jun-Ho (Wi Ha-Joon)
A police officer whose attention is sparked when a person reveals they’ve been in a deadly game. He then decides to investigate and discovers this was the game in which his missing brother participated long ago. He infiltrates the island where the Squid Game happens and starts to discover some of its secrets.
Wi Ha-Joon has been in several Korean TV series, including 18 Again, which was adapted from the 2009 Zac Efron movie 17 Again. Recently, he has participated in horror and thriller films such as Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum and Midnight.
The Front Man (Lee Byung-hun)
The masked figure who orchestrates the Squid Game and makes sure everything goes according to plan. He has authority over the minions and ultimately decides who lives and who dies inside the perimeter of the island.
Lee Byung-hun is a prominent Korean star and recording artist who has also found success in Hollywood: he played Storm Shadow in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, as well as the new T-1000 in Terminator: Genisys.
The Recruiter (Gong Yoo)
A salesman who was selected to approach people deep in debt and offer them large sums of money to play a simple game. Every round he wins, he’s allowed to slap the opponent, and if he loses, he gives money to the other player. After this initial mini-game, he then invites the players to the Squid Game.
Gong Yoo became internationally known after he played the lead role in the surprise hit Train to Busan. He will lead the cast of the upcoming Netflix series The Silent Sea, a sci-fi mystery set in a lunar station.
Separated by Triangle, Square, and Circle ranks, they are anonymous individuals whose job is to carry out the Squid Game and make sure every player abides by every rule. They are not allowed to exchange personal information and can only remove their masks in isolation. They are also instructed to mercilessly kill whoever breaks a rule, fails to pass a stage in the allotted time, or somehow manages to find loopholes in the competition.
KEEP READING: ‘Squid Game’ Season 2: Netflix “Trying to Figure Out the Right Structure” to Make It Happen
It’s the OG ‘Sierra Burgess is a Loser’, you guys.
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