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Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-jun and Jung Ho-yeon, the cast of the widely popular Netflix series Squid Game, appeared virtually on Wednesday’s episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and talked about why the series has quickly become one of the streaming site’s most successful shows.
Fallon noted that Squid Game, which hit Netflix on Sept. 17, is currently No. 1 on the platform in 90 countries. The nine-episode series is about a group of players competing in children’s games for a cash prize — with deadly high stakes.
Of the success, Park, who plays Sang-woo, said, “I’m so thankful that so many folks are watching this through so many media outlets, but I feel [the success] even more at this very moment. It’s real. I feel it in my bones.”
Wi, who plays Jun-ho, added, “I definitely think part of the appeal is the Korean children’s games. That can be very original, refreshing and also shocking at the same time to the global viewers. I also feel like we did a good job expressing the true human nature of raw greed and human nature that took place inside the games, which I believe resonates with a lot of the audiences.”
One of the South Korean show’s most recognizable moments from the first episode is a dangerous version of the game “Red Light, Green Light.” During the game, a giant robotic doll detects each of the players’ movements and if the doll senses a player is moving after she says “red light,” then that player is immediately shot and killed.
Jung, who portrays Sae-byeok, explained that the doll actually originates from Korean school textbooks. She told the host, “When we were at the school, there were characters — one is a boy, and one is the girl. The boy’s name was Chulsoo, and the girl’s name was Younghee, and she’s the one.”
Despite its dark premise, the series has lighthearted moments that happened on- and offscreen. Lee recalled an improvised interaction between his character, Seong Gi-hun, and Jung’s Sae-byeok. He described a scene from the premiere in which Seong accidentally runs into Sae-byeok, who drops her coffee. “Typically you would just pick it up and hand it to her, but I noticed the straw on the ground, so I improvised and tried to stick the straw back into the cup,” Lee said. “I tried to do it multiple times. That made Ho-yeon crack up so hard that she couldn’t lift her head up.”
Park also shared that he has a personal connection to the series: “It was quite amazing because the premiere of Squid Game was at 4 p.m. KT, and the first time I got to meet my son was at 3:50 p.m.” He added, “So he is my lucky charm and a bundle of blessing for me. My friends and many people around me call him ‘Baby Squid.'”
Later on, the cast competed in a segment of “Schoolyard Games.”
Watch the interview below.
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