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Lee Jung-jae of ‘Squid Game’ made history with Emmy for best actor in drama

He’s the first actor from a non-English show to win the award.
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Netflix’s “Squid Game” won six Emmy Awards, with a historic win for the show’s star, Lee Jung-jae.

Lee, who plays protagonist Seong Gi-hun, took home the award Monday for outstanding lead actor in a drama series, making him the first Asian man to win the award, and the first to win it for a non-English show.

Lee Jung-jae, left, won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series and Hwang Dong-hyuk won for Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series for "Squid Game" at the 74th Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sept. 12, 2022.
Lee Jung-jae, left, won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series and Hwang Dong-hyuk won for Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series for "Squid Game" at the 74th Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sept. 12, 2022.Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images

“Thank you to director Hwang for making a realistic problem we all face come to life so gracefully on the screen,” he said during his acceptance speech.

“To everyone watching from Korea, my dearest fans, friends and family who have always supported me, I wanted to share this joy with you. Thank you,” Lee said in his on-screen thank-you text. 

Hwang Dong-hyuk, the series’ director, won the award for outstanding directing for a drama series for the show’s first episode, “Red Light, Green Light.”

“Squid Game” also won the award for outstanding production design for a narrative contemporary program (one hour or more), outstanding guest actress in a drama series, outstanding special visual effects in a single episode, and outstanding stunt performance.

The series follows Gi-hun, a struggling father with a gambling problem, and hundreds of other contestants riddled with debt who compete against one another for a cash prize by playing violent and twisted versions of popular children’s games. The competition can only have one winner, and those who lose die.

“Squid Game” made history in July as the first non-English series nominated for outstanding drama series at the award show. It was also nominated for 13 other awards.

A second season was officially greenlighted earlier this year. Hwang also confirmed antagonist The Front Man (Lee Byung-hun) and Gi-hun would be returning in season two, along with the introduction of the boyfriend of Young-hee, the giant killer doll used in the first game of the competition, “Red Light, Green Light.”

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This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.