Lee Jung Jae is going from strength to strength with his directorial debut to come to London (Picture: Jeremy Chan/Getty Images)
Emmy award-winning Squid Game actor Lee Jung Jae will be in London making his directorial debut at the London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) in October for the UK premiere of his new film Hunt.
The film made its global debut at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, with early reviewers calling it ‘sleek and serious, burnished and brutal’, and it became the fifth-highest-grossing film of the year to date in South Korea.
The veteran South Korean actor is directing and starring in the 1980s thriller, which centres around a spy who is tasked with unearthing an espionage plot in the country’s government agency.
Set against a backdrop of political and military tension between North and South Korea, Jung Jae also stars in the role as Foreign Unit chief Park Pyong-ho at the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (an early iteration of the South Korean secret service).
His search for a mole lands him in the middle of an assassination plot, and what follows is an urgent struggle amid blood-soaked action sequences.
Though Jung Jae is a seasoned and talented actor with a lucrative list of films under his belt, it is his role in the tense Netflix survival drama Squid Game, where he played the main character Seong Gi-hun, that catapulted him to the global sphere.
The Hunt will premiere in London next month
To call Squid Game, created by Hwang Dong-hyuk, a cultural world phenomenon would be an understatement.
Within 10 days of dropping on Netflix, it became the platform’s highest-ranking show in 90 countries. Millions of viewers were from outside of Korea – in fact, most were international viewers – giving the ‘Korean Wave’ of the 1990s, characterised by the global popularity of South Korean culture, a new burst of energy.
The actor shot to fame in Squid Game (Picture: AP)
It is a series that took a simple schoolyard game in Korea and brought it across the world, with a macabre, social commentary twist.
People in England, in the US, across Latin America, Europe and the Middle East found themselves playing the childhood Korean game; the soundtrack for the Netflix show became TikTok viral sounds and made their way across social media; scenes from the show were given the meme treatment and celebrities, including Trevor Noah, got in on the cultural moment.
The success of the show was reflected in the award space, too, and Jung Jae made acting history after becoming the first person from a foreign-language show to win best actor in a drama at the Emmys. Director Hwang Dong-hyuk won the prize for outstanding directing for a drama series.
He made his mark at the Emmys earlier this month (Picture: by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
And Jung Jae’s mark on the world stage is only beginning. Earlier this month it was revealed that the 49-year-old has been cast as the male lead in the new Disney Plus Star Wars series The Acolyte from Lucasfilm.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, LEAFF film festival founder and director Hyejung Jeon, said: ‘The fact that everyone empathises with Lee Jung-Jae’s acting in Squid Game is confirmation of the tremendous sense of community in the present day.
‘His performance, which created a common code – the world sharing the same emotions, proves that he is an actor with great strengths, not only limited to Korea.
‘That is why we wished to focus on his career and dedicate a strand to him. We are so glad he was recognised by so many institutions (including the Emmys).
‘This year, LEAFF’s overarching theme is utopia and dystopia, which is something we can all imagine living in the present day. In that sense, the invitation of actor/director Lee Jung-Jae is expressing a message – to experience and dream with the global audience in the present day which is what LEAFF strive for.’
London East Asia Film Festival
The London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF), the capital’s most celebrated champion of East Asian cinema and culture, headed by Festival Director Hyejung Jeon, opens its 7th year on October 19 at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square with the UK premiere of Hunt, the latest spy action drama directed by the award-winning Actor Lee Jung-Jae.
The Festival closes on October 30 with Hong Kong’s biggest sci-fi action blockbuster, Warriors Of Future, starring Actor Louis Koo and Sean Lau.
This year’s programme includes the cinematic offerings of China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia and focuses on dystopia vs utopia.
Through the unique perspectives of East Asian filmmakers, LEAFF offers compelling insight into how the history of East Asia has shaped what our future holds.
You can take a look at the programme, here.