As the creator behind the global phenomenon squid gameAnd the Hwang Dong Hyuk A year has passed (or a decade, if you go back when you actually pictured the story). Netflix released the Korean thriller on September 17 – two days before 2021 Emmy Awards, to give you an idea of anyone’s expectations that the show was an award contender. But after the series became a worldwide sensation, Hwang and his cast and crew embarked on a campaign trail, earning a string of nominations and winnings from award bodies such as Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes on their way to making history as the first unknown team. A non-English-language Western production to earn major category Emmy nominations, including Best Drama and Best Actor, with a total of 14 nominations along the way, Hwang—who received individual nominations for directing and writing—was also heavily preparing for its second season (which Netflix commissioned shortly afterwards). from the start of the broadcast). speak with THR, With the help of an interpreter on how he handled everything.
The Emmy nominations were announced after midnight in Korea. When and how did you learn the gospel?
It was around 12:30 a.m. and I was watching it live from Jeju Island in the south of the peninsula, as I was writing the script for season two. Although I was looking forward to hearing some of the nominations, I was also very nervous, because we might not be the nominees.
Of the 14 labels the show has earned, is there anything you’re particularly proud of?
Of course I’m proud of all 14 nominations, but if I had to pick one I would definitely say it [Park] Hye-soo for a supporting actor. He’s been campaigning with us for a very long time, but this is the first time he’s received a solo nomination. I was very happy that this prestigious awards organization recognized his great work.
Are there any words to express what it feels like to receive these nominations, whether it has to do with it being the most-nominated show on Netflix this year or the historical nature of that honor?
This long journey squid game It was on like a dream. Nobody wanted it back in 2009 when I was first writing the script and there was no investor, but we now have 14 nominations at the Emmy Awards, the most prestigious award in the US, and I’ve been nominated for both writing and directing. To me, that’s more dramatic than [protagonist] Gi-hun wins the Squid game. It’s like a miracle.
Only one person might know how you feel: Bong Joon Ho, who also made history with the Academy Award winner. parasite. Have you both talked before about what this experience looks like?
I have already met with Director Bong several times and got some advice from him. Tell me how draining the Oscars campaign was. He was actually sick at the time – he thinks it might have been COVID – but had to do all the campaigning. Director Bong was preparing for his next project, and he told me that working on his script and staying away from the Oscar campaign was how he healed himself. He told me, “You will recover by preparing for the next step [project]. “
How important do you think? squid gameHave your topics changed since you came up with the idea back in 2009?
A decade ago, when I pitched the script, many people told me that while it was creative and original, it wasn’t realistic. Now, I think a lot of people don’t feel like I overdid the story. This is the biggest difference. There is a lot of inflation now, and with the war, the poor are getting poorer because interest rates are higher, their debts are hard to pay off and gas prices are too high. Ten years ago, people thought no one would join the Squid, but now people probably want it because it’s so hard to get.
In fact, Netflix does a literal job squid game Reality show (without the fatal risks, obviously). What conversations did you have with the creators of that series?
Content creators try to stick to the show, so they ask us to design the set or clothes design sketches to make sure it looks like the real thing squid game.
Given your program’s critique of social and economic inequality, how do you feel about all these different business opportunities that have emerged from squid gameMassive success?
I think this show is a bit of a critique of capitalism, but let’s say Ji-hoon represents 90 percent of all people, and 10 percent comes out really rich. He’s trying to ask us, “Is this world fair to 90 percent of us? And if that’s not fair, who is making this world unfair and who is profiting from this injustice that we are witnessing?” I wanted to make this show for people to realize that the world is unfair, And ask themselves why and where we can start making changes. I’m not trying to say that capitalism is bad per se – I just wanted to ask this question about what we can do to change our system to a fairer one.
The reason I created the show was to convey this message, but at the same time, I also wanted to be successful; I wanted to make money. I think it’s only natural that we have this business going on around us squid gameBecause we live in a capitalist society. There was a lot of investment in this show, and the reason is to make money off of it. So, in a competitive and capitalistic world, I think that the occurrence of this business is normal.
How was your schedule last year, with having to promote Season 1 while working on Season 2 at the same time?
We started the campaign last October. I had to work on my next project and also had meetings with lawyers, managers, agents and studios. I’m also working on a feature film and I have a deadline to finish writing the second season of squid game By the end of this year or early next year. So, for the past nine months, I haven’t had any time to spare. This is by far the busiest of my life, and I think I’ll be busy for a while moving forward.
What mental or emotional state should you write while multitasking? Do squid gameMassive success helps or hinders you?
It would be a complete lie if I said I didn’t feel any pressure, because a lot of people are waiting for season two, and season one was so successful that I don’t feel pressured by it. When I actually write the script, I really immerse myself in that world I made, and it feels less difficult for me. As soon as I sit in front of my laptop, I become part of the world I made and completely forget the real world I live in.
What theme or message do you plan to convey in Season 2, and will it be a response in any way to the reception of Season 1, or to the latest developments in the state of the world?
I’ve seen many reactions from people about the show, but I don’t want to make Season 2 a response to those reactions. The philosophies I lay out in season one naturally extend to season two. Instead of trying to meet the expectations of the viewers, I just thought about the last moment when Ji Hoon walked away from boarding the plane, and thought about what he would do next. There will naturally be a flow of events that will lead all the way through to the end of the season. I can’t share any details yet, but you know Seong Gi-hun has become a completely new person by the end of season 1, so season two will be about what the new Gi-hun will do and how things will unfold with this new type of personality.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in an independent August issue of The Hollywood Reporter.