Squid Game The global Netflix phenomenon

A photo collection of scenes from the global hit, “Squid Game.” (Photos: Handouts from Netflix)
Squid Game,” a Korean series, has gone viral around the world since it was released on Netflix on September 17.اضافة اعلان

The show is inspired by other deadly movies in the survival game genre, such as “Battle Royale” and “Hunger Games.”

The Japanese classic, “Battle Royale,” is about a survival game in which opponents face off against each other at the same time and only one is left standing.

(Warning: spoilers below.)

Number 456

“Squid Game” brings together a cast of characters that are all different but have one thing in common: their lives are shattered due to unpayable debts. These rejects of South Korean society are targeted and recruited by an occult group that acts in the shadows to offer redemption and a chance at a new life with an incredible amount of money.

However, they must agree to participate in a bloodthirsty game with strings pulled by people in high places for entertainment. Like the popular battle royale game, Fornite, there can only be one left standing. During the story, we follow character number 456, who participates in this extremely violent secret tournament.

Violent yes but with sensitivity

The sensitivity shown amidst all of the violence was mainly what surprised me about the show. The authors take care to show us the path and the choices some of the participants make. Behind this gratuitous and graphic violence hides a humanity. The choices the participants face are heartbreaking and challenge us in our own way of seeing life. 
Although the six challenges presented in the first season of the series with Lee Jung Jae, Park Hae Soo, and Wi Ha Joon are inspired by children’s games, they are slightly modified to become sadistic and terrifying ordeals.

Why you should watch it

Without a doubt, one of the main keys to the success of “Squid Game” is its plot. 

The show is inspired by famous Japanese comics, such as “Alice in Borderland,” “Battle Royale,” and “As the Gods Will,” among others. Like the new Netflix series, all of these comics had one thing in common: People had to compete in a survival game and risk not making it out alive for a large sum of money.

Based on this principle and based on his own experiences, Hwang Dong-hyuk decided to write the screenplay for “Squid Game” in 2008 and 2009, at a time when the creator was going through hard economic times. Although the idea was conceived and made many years ago, he had to put it aside because no one wanted to take a gamble on it

The cast

The cast of “Squid Game,” includes well-known faces from South Korean cinema and television, such as Lee Jung-jae (Gi-hun), Park Hae-soo, HoYeon Jung, and “Train to Busan” actor Gong Yoo.

A photo collection of scenes from the global hit, “Squid Game.” (Photos: Handouts from Netflix)

The red costume and mask worn by the vigilantes of the game, reminds many of the thieves from “Money Heist” and the geometric shapes used in that series: circles representing workers, triangles representing armed soldiers, and squares representing managers, which was inspired by the idea of worker ants, whose only goal is the colony.

A photo collection of scenes from the global hit, “Squid Game.” (Photos: Handouts from Netflix)

The game

The game starts with a play area that is made up of different sections: one rectangular, one triangular, and a smaller circular one (when put together, the three shapes form a stylized squid).

The players are divided into attackers (who have a base in the circle) and defenders (based in the rectangle). At the start of the game, the players can only move by hopping on one foot and can only run on two feet after crossing a defensive line and becoming a “secret inspector.” They must reach the other end of the squid, while preventing the defenders from throwing them out of the area. If they are thrown out, they die.

The caramel cookies

One of the most striking things about of the success of this series is the viral response it has received on social media. After its debut, the #SquidGame hashtag was used in over 14 billion videos on TikTok.

A corresponding challenge on social media takes a challenge from the movie, where our protagonists must cut out a strange figure from a caramel biscuit without breaking the biscuit. Users on TikTok try their hand at the same thing and try to cut out a figure with a cookie cutter to see if they would be able to survive the challenge themselves. 

A photo collection of scenes from the global hit, “Squid Game.” (Photos: Handouts from Netflix)

For Koreans, these sweets are something really very ordinary and are called dalgona (or ppopgi in some regions), and they are hard like a lollipop. They are made by simply dissolving sugar on the stove with a little baking soda. After the cookie is spread out into in a circular shape, a figure is imprinted on the cookie (a star, a heart, a house, etc.).

The clues

Beyond the social undertones, “Squid Game” is a playful narrative that is as ruthless as it is brilliant. As the episodes unfold, we get more and more into an intrigue that actually takes place in front of our eyes.

Precisely for this reason, when reviewing the first episodes with hindsight one notices rather eloquent clues scattered everywhere: For example, on the walls of the large dormitory where the competitors are gathered, the various games to which they themselves will be subjected are distinctly drawn in a stylized way.

The games are organized by a mysterious character, known as the “front man” (Lee Byung-hun), and they are set up in huge spaces by a group of people dressed in red jumpsuits and black masks. Furthermore, each game is inspired by a game from childhood. 

The temptation to give up and run away is high, but when a huge piggy bank begins to fill with money and it is revealed that the final prize pool is 45.6 billion Korean won (almost $38 million), the participants decide to stay and face the games.

The sets
The series’ creativity lies not only in its history, but also in how it is staged, starting from the sets, which are simple and disturbing at the same time.

A photo collection of scenes from the global hit, “Squid Game.” (Photos: Handouts from Netflix)

The locations recreated in the series were created so that viewers would try to find “Squid Game’s” hidden clues. The idea was to simulate real playgrounds, so that the actors could get into the action more easily. And the series also does a spectacular job of reproducing the Korean alleys of the 1970s and 1980s, in which one of the most dramatic episodes takes place.

The meaning of ‘Squid Game’

From its very first scenes, it’s clear that the Netflix series wants to send a message that goes beyond the restlessness and tension offered by the plot.

“Squid Game” highlights how social inequalities are still present in today’s world, and how money can tip of the scales for measuring a person’s freedom.

The series could challenge the primacy of “La Casa di Carta.” According to Ted Sarandos, of Netflix, “Squid Game” has reached enough views to possibly make it one of Netflix’s most viewed non-English series ever on the platform.

Confirmation will take place in mid-October, after 28 days have passed since its release. However “Squid Game” also has the potential to become the most viewed Netflix TV series ever, surpassing shows such as “Bridgerton,” “The Witcher,” and “Lupine.”

Success and controversy

“Squid Game” has become so popular that South Korean SK Broadband as threatened to sue Netflix because of the excessive high-speed data traffic generated by the series’ numerous views. In order to sustain this flow of traffic, the internet provider is arguing that Netflix should contribute to infrastructure maintenance costs. 

SK Broadband has also said that internet traffic caused by Netflix in recent years has increased by up to 1,150GB per second, so much so as to significantly increase the management costs of facilities.

The series caused Netflix’s stock price hit an all-time high on September 30. This was happening amid a shaky September for most stocks on the New York Stock Exchange.

Netflix Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said at a conference on September 27 that “’Squid Game’ could be the most successful non-English-speaking series on Netflix.”

Netflix’s stock, which had stalled for a while after the release of “Squid Game,” is now on the rise as the box office is in full swing.

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