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Netflix and 'Squid Game' Make History with Acting, Directing Emmy Wins

A non-English-language program has never won in a major category at the Primetime Emmy awards before.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Joan E. Solsman
A man intently examines some candy as pink-suited armed guards look on in TV show Squid Game.

Squid Game is a winner.

Netflix/Youngkyu Park

Netflix made Emmy history Monday, as its Korean-language breakaway hit Squid Game won Primetime Emmy awards for drama lead acting and directing -- a first for a non-English-language program. Squid Game's Lee Jung-jae won for lead actor in a drama series, and Hwang Dong-hyuk won the award for outstanding directing of a drama series. 

Until this year, non-English projects had never won or even been nominated in a major category at the Primetime Emmy awards.

Scoring Emmys doesn't necessarily unlock rewards for a service other than bragging rights. But with competition continuing to intensify between services vying for your eyeballs and subscription dollars, unprecedented Emmy wins like Netflix's can grab attention toward one service as a go-to place for decorated programming. 

Squid Game, as a global phenomenon, was already unprecedented. The South Korean thriller about a dystopian survival competition ignited as an unexpected worldwide hit late last year. Netflix counts it as the most-watch program it has ever released, with more than 1.65 billion hours of the show streamed in its first four weeks. 

Netflix's programming was first nominated in 2013, and last year it won the most awards of any network or service. 

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