In a new interview with The Guardian, the actor reflected on the survival show’s success ahead of the second season, questioning why it has resonated with so many.
“I’m happy about it, of course, but it’s bittersweet,” said Lee. “Yes, it’s great that audiences are consuming Korean content around the world. And they appreciate it. But if you think about the themes of Squid Game – how far are we willing to go to accumulate personal wealth, the lengths people are forced to go to – the fact it resonated with so many around the world is worrying.”
He added: “You get a sense this is the reality for so many people globally. And that makes me feel hugely sad.”
Lee went on to describe the “horrific” experience of filming such twisted survival scenes.
“We had to express the experiences of these characters being pushed to those extremes Doing that? It was terrible,” he said. “The more beautiful the game set was, and the more childish and fun it seemed, the more horrific it was for the characters, and therefore us as actors.”
Lee added: “I do think about what happened in that show. It’s impossible not to. And it made me think about what I’m not doing. Many of us live obliviously. It made me rethink how I look at the world. It couldn’t not.”
Lee previously told IndieWire that, while the show’s success was “unexpected”, he could understand why it resonated with viewers around the world.
“Primarily [it’s] the fact that the games are very easy and unique at the same time, and also simple enough for people to easily follow and copy. And I think the most important factor was the fascinating characters,” he said last year.
“They thought that the characters were very compelling. The audience members saw themselves in some of the characters and other people in other characters. This helped them form [an] emotional bond with most of the characters.
“I think as they saw these players, contestants, desperately trying to survive in those games, they saw themselves and issues [with] some social problems in our times. So that really resonated with them.”
Lee is next set to star as the male lead in Disney+’s The Acolyte. The upcoming Star Wars series, which promises to depict the Dark Side’s rise to power during the final days of the High Republic era, marks the South Korean actor’s first leading role in a television series since starring in Squid Game.