(ATTN: ADDS more comments in paras 7-10, 13-14, director's full name in 2nd para)
By Kim Boram
SEOUL, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean phenomenon survival drama "Squid Game" has become the first non-English TV series to win best actor and director in a drama series at the prestigious Primetime Emmy Awards.
At the ceremony for the 74th edition at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Monday (U.S. time), Hwang Dong-hyuk, who produced, wrote and directed "Squid Game," took home the prize of Outstanding Directing and Writing For a Drama Series for the Netflix series' first episode, "Red Light, Green Light."
He was competing with Mark Mylod, Cathy Yan and Lorene Scafaria of "Succession," Ben Stiller of "Severance," Jason Bateman of "Ozark" and Karyn Kusama of "Yellowjackets."
It is the first time that a non-English TV series has earned an Emmy, the most coveted honor in the U.S. TV industry, for its director.
Hwang thanked the global streaming platform Netflix for opening the door to his all-Korean show and giving an unprecedented opportunity to access global audiences outside Korea.
"I believe I have to say we've all made history together," he said in his acceptance speech. "I truly hope 'Squid Game' won't be the last non-English series to be here at the Emmys, and I also hope this won't be my last Emmy either."
He said he will return with the second season and aim for the highest honor at Emmys next time, which went to HBO's "Succession" this year.
"We've lost to 'Succession' at every awards ceremonies so far. Tonight, when the presenters said 'S' for best drama series, I rose as I hoped they would call 'Squid Game,'" Hwang joked in a separate press conference with Korean media. "But they said 'Succession,' and I sat down again."
"I want to come back to the Emmys and win the best drama series prize with season 2 of 'Squid Game' and take the stage with all the cast and crew members," he added.
He said he is still working on the script for the season 2, which will have some changes in characters and plots.
Lead actor Lee Jung-jae was named Outstanding Lead Actor In a Drama Series, beating Jason Bateman from "Ozark," Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong from "Succession," Bob Odenkirk from "Better Call Saul" and Adam Scott from "Severance."
Lee became the first non-English speaking performer and South Korean actor to win an Emmy, one of the four major American awards for performing arts and entertainment.
In "Squid Game," Lee plays the role of Gi-hun, a down-on-his-luck middle-aged man drawn to a mysterious competition of traditional Korean kids' games that reward the only survivor with 45.6 billion won (US$33 million) in prize money.
In his acceptance speech, the actor thanked director Hwang Dong-hyuk for creating the series that was accepted by audiences all over the world and Korean fans for supporting him.
"Thank you director Hwang for making realistic problems we all face come to life so creatively on the screen with the great script and amazing visuals," he said. "I want to share this amazing honor with my fans, friends and family in Korea."
In the separate press conference, Lee said language is not the only way for people to tell stories.
"Actors do not tell stories only with language. There are many other ways," he said. "The message and idea of a story are much more important to communicate, and those of 'Squid Game' well resonate with people around the world."
In total, "Squid Game" has collected six Emmy titles: two majors at Monday's ceremony and four at the Creative Arts Emmys held last week. The Netflix original garnered 14 nominations at this year's Emmys.
It is Netflix's biggest hit original series ever, with a total of 1.65 billion hours of viewing in the first four weeks. Its second season is now in production.