The new Netflix k-drama Squid Game is taking the world by storm, keeping its top spot on Netflix's rankings thanks to word of mouth from fans. The moving but brutal series follows a group of contestants who volunteer in a life-or-death game for the chance at a 456 million won ($38 million) grand prize. While the main plot follows the characters, the show also takes us behind the scenes as a young detective named Hwang Jun-ho infiltrates the game in search of his older brother.
Wi Ha-joon plays the young cop, who makes it his mission to shut down the game as he learns more and more of its horrors. The 30-year-old actor is a rising star in Korea, who has had impressive roles on popular dramas and in blockbuster films. Here's everything we know about the young actor.
He grew up on an abalone farm.
Wi was born in August 1991 and grew up on an island in the South Jeolla Province of South Korea. During an appearance on the variety show Problem Child in the House last June, he revealed that his father runs an abalone farm, selling the expensive shellfish that's popular in South Korea.
He's a rising drama actor.
Wi made his acting debut in a short film in 2012 and has worked steadily as film actor, though he now acts in a mix of blockbuster films and dramas. His first lead role was in Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018), a horror film based on a real-life psychiatric hospital. In a 2018 Arirang interview, he revealed that he wanted to play a villain since he was young. He got his wish in this year's Midnight (2021), where he plays a serial killer who terrorizes a deaf woman.
Recently he's had smaller roles in the popular dramas Something in the Rain (2018), 18 Again (2020), and Romance is a Bonus Book (2019), for which he received a Best New Actor nomination from South Korea's prestigious Baeksang Arts Awards. Next he's confirmed to star in the police drama Bad and Crazy, which premieres in December 2021.
He loved his Squid Game character, Hwang Jun-ho.
In a Men's Heath Korea interview, translated by My Music Taste, he recalled his initial reaction to the hit show. "I read the script in a blink of an eye, and I was just blown away by how immersive it was. It was something that I’ve never seen before and I loved the character, Hwang Joon Ho, so I decided to star in the series."
He also shared that he was deeply inspired by the show's star Lee Jung-Gae, who played Seong Gi-hun. "Unfortunately, I didn’t have many scenes with him so, it was a bit of a bummer that I didn’t get to see him much in person. But he definitely showed something different, something he has never shown before, in this series. I could see that his steps and gaze were those of his character and his acting deeply inspired me."
He's a great dancer.
Since Squid Game blew up, fans have been sharing Wi's throwback clips on social media. In one clip from 2016, while promoting at an event called Star, Wi danced to TWICE's song "Cheer Up" alongside other celebrities. Not only did he do the dance justice, he went full out on the adorable girl group dance.
He enjoys hanging out with his niece.
Though his Instagram feed is mostly selfies and promos for his films and dramas, he also includes the odd pic from a coffee shop or the gym. He's also posted several videos of himself spending time with his young niece. His most recent is a video of them playing on a swing set, which he captioned, "With my beloved princess."
Quinci LeGardye is a LA-based culture writer who covers TV, movies and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.
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