As the pandemic continues to rampant, people continue to follow safety protocols, spending time at home and only going out for groceries. With more time in their hands, many have tuned to streaming sites to keep themselves distracted from all the terrible news on the outside world. In the past month, one show in particular has caught the world’s attention, Squid Game.
Squid Game is a South Korean series that falls into a similar category as The Hunger Games, Running Man, and the Japanese hit film Battle Royale. The premise of the show revolves around a contest that has 456 players competing to win the cash prize of 45.6 billion Won. While initially seeming like an easy task, the players soon realize that the penalty is death.
The series follows a Seong Gi-hun (played by Lee Jung-jae), a divorced and indebted chauffeur, who wins a game of ddjaki against a man in suit at a train station. The man offers him the opportunity to win so much more. Debt-ridden, Gi-hun eventually accepts the invitation and gets knocked unconscious upon following instructions for a rendezvous. He awakens in a dormitory with 455 other players, each one numbered by their tracksuits. It is revealed that all the participants are also in difficult financial situations. After the masked staff arrive, the instructions are relayed: they can win the prize after winning six games in a span of six days. Gi-hun and the other players are then taken to the first game, and they soon realize that it isn’t as easy as they thought.
Released on September 17, Squid Game is a Netflix series that has taken the world by storm. Since its release, the series has become Korea’s first show to hit the top trending spots in the United States. Although it is one of the most successful shows on the platform today, Squid Game creator Hwang Dong-hyuk had difficulty getting his creation greenlit by studios.
At the time, Hwang Dong-hyuk was living with his mother and grandmother, basing the story around his own economic struggles and observing the class disparity in South Korea. At one point, he had to sell his laptop for $675 in cash just to survive. Although the premise seemed relevant, Hwang believed the world wasn’t ready for his work. It wasn’t until later that he was convinced the world was ready for Squid Game.
Hwang revealed that the concept of throwing players into childhood games with deadly consequences came about more than a decade ago in 2008. “I came up with which games to use in the story ten years ago,” he explained. “And it was, to begin with the red light, green light game that makes a big impact with shocking mass death. I thought players fighting like warriors using the shapes, which form a ring, would demonstrate the irony of it being a children’s game, as well as the player’s desperation.”
Although it took a while, Netflix finally picked up the show in 2019. Since then, it has been subtitled in 31 languages and dubbed in 13, propelling Squid Game to the top in more than 90 countries with 95% of viewers outside South Korea.