Edited by Jeon Gyeong Ju
Translated Cho EK
Can Squid Game be the first non-English-speaking Netflix series to make it to the North American awards? It’s been a month after its release, but the series is still popular. Amid the booming popularity, the series was nominated for Breakthrough Series-over 40 minutes and Outstanding Performance in a New Series at the 2021 Gotham Awards scheduled to have its opening ceremony on the 29th. In particular, Lee Jung Jae was nominated with other prominent actors such as Ethan Hawke of The Good Lord Bird and Anya Taylor-Joy of The Queen’s Gambit, taking a new leap as a global star. Kim Seon Ho, who was recently embroiled in a scandal over his private life, is also enjoying immense popularity abroad as his series Start-Up and Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha are released worldwide through Netflix. Let’s find out who else earned the fame by starring in a Netflix series.
Hyun Bin rose to stardom early in his age with My Lovely Sam Soon (2005). Since then, he has become one of the best rom-com stars with the successes of Worlds Within (2008) and Secret Garden (2010-2011). Having a stable career path without many major ups and downs, he met the legendary drama series in the year of 2019. It was Crash Landing on You that achieved the highest viewership ratings of all tvN series, surpassing the viewership ratings of The Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (2016). Although he already was a famous Hallyu star before the series, he took his career to the next level when Crash Landing on You was aired worldwide through Netflix. Of many incredible things that happened over the course, being in a relationship with Son Ye Jin would be the best happiest achievement for him.
This year, Song Joong Ki has had a busy year starring in different movies and TV series. In particular, the two works that were released to the world through Netflix made Song’s status as a Hallyu star more impressive. Also, both works allowed the viewers to reevaluate Song’s ability as an actor. In the sci-fi movie Space Sweepers, he played a snobbish and sarcastic pilot who secretly harbors guilt and fatherly love for his lost child. Plus, in the satisfying revenge drama, Vincenzo, the actor became an Italian mob who repaid evil for evil.
Park Seo Joon can’t be left out in this list of stars who became famous for starring in the Netflix series. Previously, he had risen to stardom with various romantic comedies like She Was Pretty (2015), Fight for My Way (2017), and What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim (2018). In 2020, he took on his legendary role Park Seroi in Itaewon Class. Although he had his fame in his own country, the popularity that he gained after the series was released on Netflix was nothing like he had experienced before. Thanks to this enormous hit, he was asked to join the cast of an upcoming MCU movie, The Marvels. Although his role has not been revealed yet, he drew huge attention when he was spotted leaving for the UK in September.
After an impressive performance in the occult thriller Save Me (2017) in 2017, Seo Ye Ji had an impressive turning point in her career with It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020) that she co-starred with Kim Soo Hyun. In the series, she played a fairy tale writer named Ko Moon Young, who is naturally insensitive to emotions. With this role, she became one of the top stars by perfectly portraying the unique personality of the character who would hardly exist in the real world. After the huge success, she kept herself busy with various works. However, she is currently taking a break due to a scandal that broke out this spring over her relationship with Kim Jung Hyun.
Song Kang gained a huge fanbase after joining the casts of two different Netflix original series. He left a lasting impression in the minds of us all by starring Love Alarm (2019-2021) with his dazzling cartoony looks. Later, he gained immense popularity with Sweet Home (2020), the second-highest-grossing Korean Netflix series that was released before Squid Game. It was around this time that the fans started calling him “the son of Netflix.” Moreover, his other works, like Navillera and Nevertheless were also released on Netflix. Of the two, the youthful romance series he starred with Han So Hee, Nevertheless, received a great response.
Along with Song Kang, Han So Hee has been chosen by Netflix to become the next rising star. She started gaining popularity with The World of the Married (2017) and got the main roles both in Nevertheless and My Name. In the recently released Netflix original series My Name, she succeeded in breaking free from the image of a pretty actress. She was also praised for her excellent stunts and her emotional acting.
Currently, the biggest star that Netflix brought to global stardom is the Squid Game actress Jung Ho Yeon. After winning second place in Korea’s Next Top Model (2013) and working as a fashion model, she enjoyed huge success from the very beginning of her acting career. Her distinctive facial features and blunt way of speaking were perfect for playing Sae Byuk, who fights her way through without trusting anyone to reunite with her family. Thanks to the Squid Game craze, Jung Ho Yeon’s Instagram followers jumped from 400,000 to 20 million.
Editor Jeon Gyeong Ju: A natural-born media geek who is physically Korean and mentally multinational. All dramatic stories are my favorite sweets for life. TVs and streaming platforms are not only the playgrounds but also the weapons.
Translator Cho EK: I’m a big fan of Korean dramas and movies.