Netflix’s now annual Tudum happened this weekend. This is when they do promotion for some of their upcoming projects – there are edited packages that are presented and sometimes new trailers and sometimes brief teasers that serve as casting announcements and confirmations. That was the case with Squid Game Season 2 that’s expected to be released next year; they’ve probably started shooting by now as showrunner and creator Hwang Dong-hyuk had previously said that he expected to go into production this year. 


Squid Game is Netflix’s most successful series… EVER. So the expectations around the second season are huge. While we knew for sure that lead actor Lee Jung-jae would return, since that’s how the first season ends, with him deciding not to get on the plane and, presumably, going back for revenge, and also Lee Byung-hun too as the Front Man, we now have a clearer idea of who will join them. 


So now know that the Front Man’s brother, Wi Ha-jun, survived. Right? I mean unless Wi Ha-jun is just appearing in flashbacks, but given that they left his fall open-ended, I feel like it’s a safe presumption that he did not die and can use some of the information he picked up when he infiltrated the game. Maybe he’ll be working with Gi-hun to bring down the organisation. 

Then there are the new players. Yim Si-Wan started his career as an idol before branching out into acting. He has a big fanbase and that will likely expand. I mean look at him – he is SO pretty. 


Next is Kang Ha-neul who is also super famous. He won the Baeksang, one of the most prestigious awards in Korea, for Best Actor in 2020. Interesting the energy he’s bringing in his character introduction here. He’s wearing a bomber jacket, he’s basically scowling – he is meant to look intimidating… and I don’t think it’s an accident that he’s reminding me of the bully/gangster dude from season one. Kang Ha-neul is a GREAT actor. I’m really excited to see him in the Squid Game universe. 

As for Park Sung-hoon, he may not necessarily be at the level of popularity as the others but he recently had a supporting role in The Glory which premiered earlier this year, also on Netflix. The Glory did BIG numbers for Netflix and right after it soared to the top of the platforms streaming rankings, Netflix announced a $2.5 billion additional investment in South Korean content. Which means that many people are likely more familiar with him now than they were a year ago. 

Rounding out the new cast members, Yang Dong-geun too is well-known in the Korean entertainment industry and alternates seamlessly between scripted and reality content so he’s coming in with some recognition with Korean audiences too. I appreciate then that the show has resisted any attempts to westernise this story. Squid Game was set in South Korea, and just because its reach goes well beyond its borders, there’s no need to change its cultural environment. That obviously wasn’t a barrier the first time around. Remember, Squid Game is Netflix’s most watched series EVER, of any series in any language. 


And finally… the cast member who appears last in the video: Gong Yoo, the recruiter or The Slapper. (Time for me to link once again to Amanda Rosenberg’s brilliant article published a few weeks after Squid Game was released: “So You Want Gong Yoo to Slap You. Now What?” It’s worth the read.) “With Gong Yoo” is how he’s credited. They could have had him show up after Lee Jung-jae and Lee Byung-hun at the beginning but they saved him to the end, in part because he probably has a good agent who’s making sure his credit reflects his status but that only brings it back to status. Gong Yoo is a very big deal. He’s been consistently recognised as one of the top talents in East Asia for over 20 years. And he’s pretty exclusive – that is, he doesn’t work that often, is famously selective about his projects, and maintains a super low profile. It was a coup to get him for the first season and it’s definitely a bonus that he's agreed to come back for the second. 

All of this, then, is very promising. But also… 


Where are the women?!

Squid Game’s breakout star was Hoyeon and Squid Game was as good as it was in large part because of her. She became a huge fan favourite, maybe THE fan favourite, we cared deeply about her story, her death was devastating … and while it’s impossible to bring her back (which would be the worst idea ever) the fact this cast announcement doesn’t include any women is only reminding me of her impact on the story. 

It would be totally unlikely though that we’re getting an entire second season without women. So now I’m wondering why they’re holding that information back. And what that could possibly mean. Will the women be getting their own moment? And who will they be?!