Get to Know the Cast of 'Squid Game'

By now, you've heard of or binge-watched the biggest show in Netflix history. Can't get enough? Read on to hear stories from the stars themselves about how they're dealing with fame, the hardest parts of filming, what's next for each of them and more (WARNING: spoilers ahead)

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Lee Jung-jae as Seong Gi-hun

Squid Game Lee Jung-jae as Seong Gi-hun
Noh Juhan/Netflix

The last but most important player to join the games, Lee plays a bumbling, debt-ridden absent father who, at times, you want to root for. However, Player 456 is far from the ruthless roles Lee's played in the past.

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The actor, who has been acting for nearly 30 years, played Hoon Goh in the 2010 thriller The Housemaid and Ray in the 2020 drama Deliver Us from Evil. He's also won two Grand Bell Awards (the South Korean equivalent to the Oscars) and has been nominated three times for best actor.

Lee will be adding "director" to his list of accomplishments in the near future: The star will be producing, starring in and making his directorial debut on the upcoming project Hunt, which is set to begin filming in 2021, according to The Korea Times.

03 of 18

Park Hae-soo as Cho Sang-woo

Squid Game Park Hae-soo as Cho Sang-woo
Noh Juhan/Netflix

Player 218, once his neighborhood's pride and joy, plots his way through the game to ensure that he takes home the massive cash prize — no matter what it took. Following the success of his troubled, back-stabbing character, he's taken on a new role that has changed his life for the better: becoming a dad.

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Ten minutes before Squid Game premiered in South Korea, Park welcomed his first child — a son. The star shared the heartwarming story on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, calling his little boy his "lucky charm" and revealing that his friends have nicknamed him "Baby Squid."

Prior to the Netflix hit, Park has played terrifying assassin Han in 2020's Time to Hunt and Kim Je-hyuk in the popular TV series Prison Playbook (2017-2018). He's set to star in the Korean adaptation of Netflix's Money Heist.

05 of 18

Jung Ho-yeon as Kang Sae-byeok

Squid Game Jung Ho-yeon as Kang Sae-byeok
Noh Juhan/Netflix

The North Korean defector is on a lonely, treacherous journey to win money to reunite with her younger brother. Sae-byeok's tough exterior is only guarding a selfless older sister who is willing to sacrifice her life for her family's wellbeing. Jung's acting debut has opened doors for her to continue her path while she conquers the fashion world as a top model.

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The model-turned-actress just landed major partnerships with Louis Vuitton and Adidas and became the most-followed South Korean actress on Instagram. As for what's next, Jung revealed that she's just taking things day by day.

"Life continues, [and] there are hopefully many years ahead," she told Vogue in October. "I just want to move forward courageously and experience the world."

07 of 18

Oh Young-soo as Oh Il-nam

Squid Game Oh Young-soo as Oh Il-nam
Noh Juhan/Netflix

The player who has the least to lose and the most to reveal is played by the veteran actor, who has been turning down every commercial offer he's received so far since the show aired, according to Soompi. Oh noted that his newfound fame has gotten him so many calls that his daughter has had to step in and help because Oh does not currently have a manager.

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Jae Suk and Mi Joo invite Oh Yeong Su, participant number 001 from “Squid Game”, to the studio for an interview.
Viu Singapore/YouTube

Oh made his first appearance after the release of Squid Game on MBC's "How Do You Play?" for a special interview with Yoo Jae Suk and Lovelyz's Mijoo. During his interview, he revealed that "being famous is tough" for him and that, since he was the oldest actor on set at 77, he would go "overboard in pretending to be young in order to match their energy." He also shared some wisdom on how he plans to proceed following the show's record-breaking success.

"I don't have any grand ambitions," he told hosts Yoo and Mijoo. "Big or small, I've received a lot of things while living my life. Now, I want to leave behind those things that I've received."

"To put it simply, let's say you go to a mountain and see a flower. When we're young, we pick the flower and take it for ourselves. But by the time you reach my age, you leave it there exactly as it is, and you go back to see it again later on," he continued. "It's the same with life. Leaving things exactly the way they are. It isn't easy."

09 of 18

Anupam Tripathi as Ali Abdul

Squid Game Anupam Tripathi as Ali
Noh Juhan/Netflix

The one character you want to protect throughout the series is Ali: a struggling undocumented factory worker from Pakistan who needs to earn money for his young family. The good-hearted player is too pure for the games and eventually betrayed before he can get to the final challenge.

As for Tripathi's real-life story, the New Delhi-born star broke into the South Korean entertainment industry after winning a scholarship and studying acting at Korea National University of the Arts. Tripathi was able to master Korean in less than two years, according to Variety, and he's since landed parts in 2014's Ode to My Father and 2016's hit drama Descendants of the Sun.

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"This was just the starting point for me. Let's see how far I can move on in a better way as an actor or on my craft," he told Variety in October. Tripathi, who is also fluent in English and Hindi, said he would love to "explore how I will do in my own language."

"I would love to express myself there," the actor said of India. "That is my ultimate dream – to perform in front of my own home and own audience."

11 of 18

Kim Joo-ryoung as Han Mi-nyeo

Squid Game Kim Joo-ryoung as Han Mi-nyeo
Noh Juhan/Netflix

Player 212 brings her own type of chaos to the game. The cigarette smuggling, loud-mouth bully meets her death while seeking revenge.

Kim was selected to play the role of Han by director Hwang Dong-hyuk, having previously worked with him on the movie Silenced in 2011. She compared her character to "riding a rollercoaster" during an interview with OSEN in October. "She is a changeable and ugly beauty, but on the inside, she is lonelier than anyone and fears people more than anyone else."

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Kim has been a working actress for over 20 years, appearing in 2003's Memories of a Murder, the drama series Sky Castle and 2017's Bluebeard. However, her work on Squid Game will be the most memorable, she told OSEN, because of the bond she formed with the cast and director on set.

"I'll never forget for the rest of my life because we laughed and cried together, and the director and staff all created a comfortable and pleasant atmosphere," she told the outlet.

13 of 18

Heo Sung-tae as Jang Deok-su

Squid Game Heo Sung-tae as Jang Deok-su
Noh Juhan/Netflix

The ring leader and villain loses his life once karma catches up to him.

Playing the macho gang leader would be one of Heo's great success stories, but in real life, it took a major toll on his health. After seeing that Heo had lost a lot of weight during the pandemic, director Hwang Dong-hyuk was concerned that he looked too "scrawny" to play the alpha villain, according to Allkpop. So Heo gained more than 30 lbs. in a month, which wreaked havoc on his health.

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"My health became so bad because I gained so much weight in just a short time," Heo said, according to the Allkpop. "The muscles on my calf tore and also my knees hurt. Overall, my health depleted. It doesn't matter about losing weight but I think I have to carefully consider if I am given another role where I have to gain weight. I think gaining weight is three times harder than losing weight."

Heo has previously acted in several TV series, including Witch's Court (2017), Your Honor (2018), Watcher (2019) and Beyond Evil (2021).

15 of 18

Wi Ha-joon as Hwang Jun-ho

Squid Game Wi Ha-joon as Hwang Jun-ho
Noh Juhan/Netflix

The police officer who goes rogue to find his missing brother sneaks his way into the games and discovers the horrors of the Squid Game corporation. By the end of the series, audiences are left wondering if Hwang is still alive or dead.

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After appearing in TV shows like Romance Is a Bonus Book and 18 Again, the actor was able to channel a different character in Jun-ho, one that fans aren't used to seeing him play. He also told Deadline in October that he had to overcome his fear of water to shoot some of his scenes.

"It took a lot of time to overcome that fear," he told the outlet. "I took quite a few swimming lessons to shoot that scene, but I was able to complete it well so I'm very happy about the outcome."

Fans can catch him next in the thriller Midnight as Do-shik and the TV series Bad and Crazy as K.

17 of 18

Lee Byung-hun as The Front Man (Hwang In-ho)

Squid Game Lee Byung-hun as The Front Man
Noh Juhan/Netflix

The ominous Front Man finally takes off his mask toward the end to reveal who he is and how he got to be the head of operations for the games. His true identity leads to complicated family issues that have fans wondering if they'll explore his backstory in season 2. The actor is, of course, mega star Lee Byung-hun.

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Lee Byung-hun began his career 30 years ago and has become one of Korea's biggest stars. He's also one of the few to crossover into Hollywood, but that experience for him was not an easy one. In the U.S., he's known to have played Storm Shadow in the G.I. Joe films, he starred alongside Bruce Willis in Red 2 and played a T-1000 in Terminator Genisys. However, he told Dalian (translated by NextShark) in 2015 that he was met with racism that made him "really angry" about the way he was treated.

"I do not want to name any individual names, but I felt like when I was working in Hollywood, there were some fellow colleagues of mine who didn't even look me in the eyes because I was Asian," he said. "I tried to [introduce myself] and shake their hands, but they would all ignore me and walk past me. I couldn't shake their hands until we had finished filming the movie."

"By now, I am very used to dealing with racism and racist people," he continued. "I haven't given up on Hollywood yet, I still want to [make movies there] and fight for [more Hollywood representation]."

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