It is known that many nominees competed fiercely and went through several screenings to be selected.
Prior to the full-fledge screening, the 58th Beaksang Arts Awards held a symposium with major domestic and global OTT officials, representatives from drama, entertainment and film production companies, as well as popular culture critics, screenwriters, and PDs. They analyzed production trends, such as the rapidly changing content consumption patterns and methods of producing and distributing content, and discussed the screening criteria to apply.
With 10 more people added compared to last year, the preliminary survey of experts in the TV sector, which was conducted to listen to opinions in the industry, was participated by 30 people. After the nomination committee was decided, the appointed judges for each category selected the final candidates by referring to the results of the experts’ preliminary survey. Among so many contents, various works were examined evenly, and the judges tried to revive fairness from the first selection of nominees to the second screening and the third screening held on the day of the award ceremony.
It took them a long discussion of more than 4 hours to decide on the nominations but the Grand Prize’s winner this year was selected early during the second screening. The only work mentioned as the winner of the Grand Prize (Daesang) was “Squid Game,” which gained global popularity and created a syndrome by topping Netflix’s worldwide chart for 46 consecutive days. It was 100% agreed upon by the judges, making this the first time an OTT content has won the Grand Prize at the Baeksang Arts Awards.
CEO of StoryOn Kim Ok-young, head of TV category judges, said, “‘Squid Game’ itself is already a symbolic work. It’s an amazing work that has gained achievements beyond the screening standards and proved the horizon representing our time. We have no choice but to give the Grand Prize to this drama. It’s hard to skip such a work”. Judge Jung Deok-hyun, a popular culture critic, added, “In the case of ‘Squid Game’, not only the directing but its artworks, music, as well as the overall theme and stories were also so unique. This work is worthy of the Daesang”.
The Best Drama was given to Netflix’s original series “D.P.”. A quick decision was also made unanimously in this category. “D.P.” received consistent votes during the second and third screenings. Judge Yoon Seok-jin, drama critic and professor of Korean literature and drama at Chungnam National University, praised the work, saying, “The genre was so interesting, its message and the actors’ acting were all good. It was also well-structured”. Judge Kim Won-seok continued, “When I asked people in the film industry, they all responded ‘They adapted the original version so well!’, ‘The directing was also great, ‘There’s nothing to criticize, the acting was also excellent’. The original work’s writer Kim Bo-tong also participated in creating the script. That point itself was already amazing but the completeness of D.P. much better than we expected”.
As for the Best Entertainment Program evaluation, Mnet’s “Street Woman Fighter” received overwhelming votes. Judge Kim Kyo-seok said, “Lots of survival shows have been made but the production team of Street Woman Fighter had created better things than just stage setting. It was such a new way to show women’s solidarity as well as the performing attitude and self-esteem of the dancers on a survival stage”. Judge Jung Deok-hyun cited the reason for his vote, saying, “Mnet abandoned its signature production method and left the story up to the cast dancers. That’s what made the show even better”.
The result of the Best Educational Show category evaluation was neck and neck. It was the sector that required the longest discussion. In particular, SBS’s “Story of the Day When You Bite Your Tail” and KBS 1TV’s “Docu Insight: National Representative” had a fierce battle until the end. The trophy was eventually given to “National Representative”, which received 4 votes. However, the favorable reviews for “Story of the Day When You Bite Your Tail” could not be ignored. Judge Jung Deok-hyun said, “These days, broadcasters are thinking about how to take advantage of the archived content. We consider how to recycle the accumulated assets and solve the storytelling anew with the minimum resources. That program has a good structure”. Since “Story of the Day When You Bite Your Tail” has already been evaluated in many other places and is not fresh enough to be considered this year’s achievement, “National Representative”, which reflects the spirit of the times in popular culture, deserves to be called the symbol of this era. The fact that it focuses on women and carries out plans to look deeply into various fields of our society helped the show win the fierce competition and be called out at the 58th Baeksang Arts Awards.
Comedian Lee Yong-jin and actress Joo Hyung-young won Best Male and Female Variety Performer, respectively. Lee Yong-jin, who was nominated for the first time competed with Moon Se-yoon, who had been awarded Baeksang Male Variety Performer for four consecutive years. In fact, the two faced each other until the final screening. Judge Jung Deok-hyun said, “(Regarding ‘Turkids on the Block’) I’ve never seen such hilarious Youtube content”, adding, “It clearly showed why entertainment shows on broadcasting channels are not fun at all. He is doing his job not only on YouTube but also in existing entertainment programs”. Judge Kim Kyo-seok showed his support for Moon Se-yoon until the end. He praised Moon Se-yoon, saying, “He has been active in such a slow and heavy program like KBS 2TV’s ‘2 Days & 1 Night’ and is also active as a leading MC in various programs”. In this category, it was a 4:3 race and Lee Yong-jin won the trophy with a final score of 6 to 1.
The Best Female Entertainer award was a one-on-one match between Joo Hyun-young and Hong Jin-kyung. Joo Hyun-young, dubbed the new face, was unanimously selected as the final winner in the hope of expanding the pool of Korea’s female entertainers, which has been too narrow. Her character in “SNL Korea 2” went viral and aroused keen sympathy from audiences. Judge Kim Gyo-seok said, “She is the one who attempted to innovate in the existing culture,” with judge Kim Ok-young adding, “She started as a minor role and later became the main character. This signals that if you do something consistently, you will shine someday.”
Following the Grand Prize, Best Director in the TV category, which was given to director Hwang Dong-hyuk, was also decided quickly. Judge Hong Seok-kyung, a professor of journalism and information at Seoul National University, said, “The world created by director Hwang has been recognized worldwide and beyond Korea. It is understandable that this Best Director is given to a person who has such a great directing skill”, emphasizing that Hwang Dong-hyuk was strongest nominees in this category. On the other hand, the Best Screenplay was reviewed over and over again. This is because opinions were divided and the judges confronted each other tightly. During the second screening, the judges struggled because they could not pick only one work. In the end, 7 people decided to support each other by two votes. Netflix’s original drama “Juvenile Justice” received 5 votes, wavve’s “Political Fever” 5 votes, tvN’s “Mine” 2 votes and “Our Beloved Summer” 2 votes. While “Juvenile Justice” did not miss an important point except for dramatic exaggeration, even though it was difficult to balance the public’s opinion and reality, “Political Fever” was highly praised for portraying a political satirical drama with courage and creating a sense of balance in the current market where the genre of comedy is being ignored. In the final screening, only “Juvenile Justice” and “Political Fever” were mentioned. Writer Kim Min-seok of “Juvenile Justice” eventually beat his senior and won the Best Screenplay by only one vote. Judge Kim Ji-il said, “He created a new framework for balancing the drama through characters rather than just reporting and writing works. It is a work that has not only raised social problems but also considered alternatives to whether this problem can be solved. I think he built his world through sufficient coverage”.
Actor Lee Jun-ho won Best Leading Actor in TV against Lee Jung-jae and Kim Nam-gil. The voting result was 4:2:1. Lee Jun-ho received the votes from four judges until the end and was decided as the final winner. Judge Kim Won-seok said, “Lee Jun-ho showed acting skills that exceeded expectations in the mainstream genre.” Judge Hong Seok-kyung praised Lee Jun-ho by saying, “Until now, I only thought of him as an idol-turned-actor, but this time, he has proven that he is an actor with the ability to understand the work to the end. I could feel that he was acting beyond his limits”. With 30-year acting experience, Lee Jung-jae showed a different performance from his previous appearances with his ‘”Squid Game” role, and Kim Nam-gil also acted brilliantly without expressing the character’s emotions directly in “Through The Darkness.” They were the other two strongest contenders for this year’s Best Actor at Baeksang. But eventually, the trophy went to Lee Jun-ho.
Actress Kim Tae-ri was crowned Best Leading Actress in TV. The votes were split between Kim Tae-ri, Kim Hye-soo, and Han So-hee, with a ratio of 5:1:1. Judge Kim Won-seok said, “Actors often act with the presence given by their names, and it was excellent of Kim Tae-ri to show her acting in the role of Na Hee-do in tvN’s ‘Twenty Five, Twenty One’.” Kim Hye-soo and Han So-hee were also said to have award-worthy performances in “Juvenile Justice” and “My Name”. Kim Hye-soo was highly praised for her powerful acting that gave viewers the chills in “Juvenile Justice.” Han So-hee, who boldly transformed her image to portray a feisty and vengeful character, made a strong impression.
Actor Cho Hyun-chul won Best Supporting Actor in TV, and his strongest rivals were Lee Hak-joo of “Political Fever” and Lee Hyun-wook of “Mine”. Cho Hyun-chul and Lee Hyun-wook were neck-and-neck until the end. The final votes were 5:2. Judge Kim Won-seok said, “In works of the same genre as “D.P.”, if the bullying characters weren’t well-portrayed, the overall narrative would have collapsed. Cho Hyun-chul showed an irreplaceable performance. Even though he wasn’t the main character, he was so memorable. His acting was so perfectly convincing that the character was justified.”
The winner for Best Supporting Actress in TV was already decided during the second round of judging. In the opinion that Netflix’s “Hellbound” could not have been the same without Kim Shin-rok, she defeated Jang Hye-jin of “The Red Sleeve”. The voting results were 6:1 in favor of Kim Shin-rok.
For the Best New Actor Award, the dominant opinion among the judges was, “It goes without saying that the award would go to Goo Kyo-hwan.” Judge Yoon Seok-jin said, “It was surprising that it was his acting challenge in a drama. His own color was shown through his performance.” After winning Best New Actor in the film category at the 54th Baeksang Arts Awards, he unanimously took home Best New Actor in the TV category. The hottest topic in the third judging round was the Best New Actress in TV award. In the second round, Kim Hye-jun and Lee Yoo-mi had a close battle. Judge Kim Ji-il said, “Lee Yoo-mi showed good acting in Netflix’s original “All of Us Are Dead” following “Squid Game”. She did a good job in both. However, Kim Hye-jun also delivered a really unique character in JTBC’s “Inspector Koo” in her own color. The reason why Lee Young-ae‘s acting became more special is thanks to Kim Hye-jun. The final winner could not be decided easily because it was an incredibly close match until the 2nd judgement. Kim Hye-jun was the ultimate winner by a voting margin of 4:3 in the 3rd judgement.
Jung Jae-il, music director for “Squid Game”, won Best Art Direction. Judge Kim Ok-young, chairman of the judging committee, said, “What’s most important is how much the music contributes to the effect of dramas and films rather than the music itself. There is a lot of good music this year, but I don’t think there was any music that was as creative and overwhelming as “Squid Game”.” There were opinions supporting Art Director Chae Kyung-sun, who participated in the same work, and music director Kwon Tae-eun, who contributed to MBC’s “King of Mask Singer”, JTBC’s “Super Band 2”, “Poongryu – Battle Between the Vocalists’ and “Sing Again 2,” but the winner was firmly decided by a voting ratio of 4:1.