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Featured Image Credit: Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo / Noh Juhan / Netflix
The Hollywood director made the comments about the cast of the viral K-drama during the recent PGA Awards panel on 19th March.
Spielberg discussed the impact of the show on the entertainment industry and praised Netflix for their decision to cast the supposedly 'unknown' performers in the series.
He said: "Squid Game comes along and changes the math entirely for all of us. Thank you, Ted [Sarandos]," he said as he gestured towards Netflix's CEO Sarandos, who was in the audience, according to Deadline.
He continued: "A long time ago it was domestic stars that brought the audience into movies. Today, it's interesting, unknown people can star [in] entire miniseries [and] can be in movies."
The director made the statement as the panel were weighing up whether it's necessary to cast well-known actors in leading roles in order for projects to take off, as Spielberg praised the streaming platform for apparently providing opportunities for the South Korean actors to have a starring role.
However, Spielberg came under fire for his comments, garnering more than 3,500 shares of an IndieWire article on Twitter that discuss his remarks, with many social media users noting that a lot of the Squid Game cast are well-established actors in Asia.
One social media user wrote about the comments: "'Unknown.' To people who only watch American entertainment, I guess..."
"Correction: "Squid Game" proves that Hollywood has been waaayyyyyy behind in recognizing and celebrating longstanding S. Korean Film/TV storytelling and talent [sic]," another tweeted.
In fact, Squid Game's lead actor Lee Jung-jae is said to be one of the "most bankable celebrities" in South Korea, according to Esquire, having starred in critically acclaimed movies in the past, like The Housemaid in 2010.
Furthermore, Gong Yoo, who starred in two episodes of Squid Game, played the lead role in 2016's Train To Busan.
While HoYeon Jung did in fact make her acting debut in the K-drama, she is a well-known model, having signed to one of South Korea's top modelling agencies, ESteem Models, before later signing to an agency in New York and walking for brands like Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton.