'Squid Game' Actor Park Hae-soo on Season 2 and Possible Return of His Character

It's been a busy year for Squid Game actor Park Hae-soo, who has shown no signs of slowing down since the phenomenal Netflix K-drama took the world by storm.

The Screen Actors Guild award-nominated actor is starring in a host of other works on Netflix including action spy thriller film Yaksha: Ruthless Operations (which was released in April) and the highly anticipated Korean version of Money Heist (out on June 24), in which he plays the formidable Berlin character from the cult Spanish series of the same name.

With another Netflix K-drama (one with the working English title Accidental Narco and known in Korean as Suriname) and the period film Yoo Ryung (which translates as "ghost") both slated for release later this year, the Squid Game actor's plate is certainly full.

Speaking to Newsweek from Seoul—where Park said he was "sweating to death" in the heat of a late afternoon in the bustling South Korean capital—the actor reflected on the whirlwind success of Squid Game and the "unresolved pain" of his character in the series, Sang-woo (player no. 218).

Sang-woo took his own life during a dramatic face-off with contestant no. 456, Gi-hun (played by SAG-winner Lee Jung-jae) in the final round of a deadly survival competition that saw hundreds in desperate financial situations compete for a handsome cash prize.

Squid Game director/writer Hwang Dong-hyuk previously hinted the possibility of dead characters somehow reappearing in the second season of the series. Asked about whether there was more to tell on the story of Sang-woo in Squid Game Season 2, Park said "if I could have it my way," he would want Sang-woo to see his mother.

"He didn't get to see his mother once before he died," Park said of Sang-woo, who worked for a securities firm and was the pride and joy of his mother, graduating as a valedictorian of the business school of Seoul National University, the country's most prestigious university.

Park Hae-soo in "Money Heist Korea."
Park Hae-soo seen in the upcoming Korean spin-off of "Money Heist" on Netflix, in which he plays the Berlin character. Netflix

"Even when he was alive, he never got to meet her face-to-face. He only saw her from a distance while hiding himself in a corner when he went to her market stall. He carries this pain of not having been able to see her," Park said.

Sang-woo was wanted by police for acts of embezzlement and other financial crimes after blowing six billion Korean won (around $4.8 million) in failed investments, with everything his mother owned (including her humble market stall and shop) put down as collateral.

Ashamed of his failures and of disappointing his mom, Sang-woo was seen observing her from afar out of her line of sight in the second episode of the series, during which the players were free to leave the competition following a majority vote to end the games.

He later phones her, pretending to be on a business trip in the U.S., before attempting to take his own life in the bathtub of his apartment.

"I haven't thought about Sang-woo for a while until now actually," Park said. "But maybe—truly maybe—if I [my character] were to be alive or appear in the second season, while Sang-woo can't be rid of the bad luck he's had in life, I'd want him to at least meet his mother," Park explained. "I think that's what I would probably ask the director to write into my story in Season 2."

"The pain that Sang-woo had was never resolved. His life as a whole was unresolved, really," the Squid Game actor added.

Squid Game Finale and Hopes for Season 2

Apart from the possibility of the reappearance of his character, Park said as both an actor and a fellow audience member: "What I'm most curious to see unravel in Squid Game Season 2 is how Lee Jung-jae's character and the masked man [the Front Man character, played by Lee Byung-hun, who manages the competition] get to meet for a face-off."

The intriguing finale of the show saw Gi-hun en route to catch a flight to see his daughter. While walking along the jetway bridge to board the plane, Gi-hun calls the number on the business card he'd snatched from a person he spotted on a train being recruited to compete in the deadly games.

He tells the person who answers the phone (presumed to be the Front Man): "I can't forgive you...for everything you're doing." The show comes to a dramatic end with Gi-hun walking out of the jetway bridge and away from the plane following the phone call.

Asked whether Gi-hun should have just got on the plane, Park said: "Yes, he should have," speaking from the perspective of a father himself (Park had his first child born shortly after the premiere of Squid Game in late September 2021).

He added: "However, as an actor and for the sake of all of us [viewers], I think we're all relieved that he turned in the other direction" so that we can have a subsequent season of the series.

Park Hae-soo in "Squid Game" on Netflix.
Korean actor Park Hae-soo, seen as Sang-woo (also known as player no. 218) in "Squid Game" on Netflix. Netflix

The Surreal Success Squid Game and Hollywood

The dizzying meteoric rise of Squid Game saw cast members skyrocket to international fame, with a string of historic award nods, including becoming the first-ever non-English-language series to be nominated for not just one, but four SAG award categories, including outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series.

Asked when was the moment that he realized Squid Game had become huge, Park said: "Every moment, really, from when it was released to when we started attending award shows. Before then, I'd merely thought 'Oh yeah, I suppose the show is a hit' and hadn't thought anything more of it."

Could a role in Hollywood be next in line for Park? Asked which Hollywood directors and actors he'd most like to work with, the Squid Game actor said: "I really love David Fincher," the American director known for various psychological thriller films including Zodiac, Gone Girl and Seven.

Park said an actor he'd love to work with is Benedict Cumberbatch. "I've seen a lot of his performances at the English National Theater, including in Hamlet and Frankenstein, and his work in films. I find his energy and narration really attractive and charismatic."

Like Cumberbatch, Park, who has extensive experience in theater work, previously played the creature role in a Korean stage performance of Frankenstein.

In terms of Korean actors and directors he wants to work with, "there's too many to name," Park said, including Park Chan-wook, the visionary filmmaker behind BAFTA-winner The Handmaiden and Oldboy, whose latest film Decision to Leave premiered at 75th Cannes Film Festival on May 24 and is competing for the top Palme d'Or award at the event.

"There are so many characters I'd love to try and different works I'd like to do. But rather than the genre and character, the story is more important for me. Whatever it be, it needs to tell a story and have a message," Park said.

Park Hae-soo at the 2022 SAG Awards.
Park Hae-soo seen at the 2022 Screen Actors Guild Awards in California. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images