On September 17, 2021, Netflix released the South Korean survival drama series Squid Game on its global platform. Within weeks, the gory action thriller became one of the streaming platform’s most-watched programmes in several international markets. Even when the South Korean product was dubbed into English, the series received overwhelming critical praise.
A problematic beginning
Created, written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, Squid Game was surprisingly made in 2008, with a plot about 456 indebted contestants playing a handful of deadly children’s games for a cash prize of $38 million, inspired by Dong-hyuk’s financial troubles. The series also highlighted the vast socioeconomic class disparities in South Korea. It was not until 2019 that Netflix came up with the idea of supporting the production to improve its programming for the overseas market. Prior to this streaming deal, the script was often considered “too violent” by local South Korean studios. As a result, Dong-hyuk’s future masterpiece was repeatedly passed over. Even today, some entertainment companies consider the series too pretentious. Two weeks after Squid Game premiered, the Wall Street Journal published an article saying the series was “too grotesque” and “unrealistic.”
Intended as a film
When Squid Game, once called “Round Six,” went on sale, Dong-hyuk originally sold his creation as a movie. This was predictable, as the successful screenwriter and director had previously released Miss Granny, Silenced and The Fortress at the Korean box office. However, as planning and production took shape, so did the shift from film to television series. Here, additional elements were added to the series. For example, the detective Jun-ho was a piece of the puzzle that was missing from the original movie version of Squid Game.
The production can be brutal
Although the events in the series are fictional, the disaster that writer and director Dong-hyuk experienced was real. When an idea is to be taken from conception to filming at one of the world’s biggest streaming giants, the pressure must be tremendous. So it’s no surprise that Dong-hyuk quickly felt the relentless stress that comes with filming such a big production. Speaking to CNN, Dong-hyuk said, “I am still missing two molars on my left side. I need to have implants put in, but I have not had time yet.” That’s right, he has lost teeth due to all the stress. In total, he lost six teeth because he played at such a high level for weeks.
Play with the giant doll
Aside from the faces of the main characters, including the guards in the red suit, Squid Game is best known for the laser-eyed doll in the first episode of the series, “Red Light, Green Light.” The danger posed by such a character in the real world has been toned down, but its creepy nature has not been changed. If you are looking for a fun, death-free game with the giant doll, you are more than welcome. It is located at the front entrance of Macha Land, a carriage museum in Jincheon County. You must be committed, because this is a long three-hour tour north of Seoul through the South Korean countryside.
All the time ahead
With such a deadly yet whimsical aspect of Squid Game, you should not be surprised to read that the Easter eggs were hidden right before our eyes. TikTok user @lucy.what1 made the startling discovery that the room where all the participants ate and slept depicted all the games the players would soon experience. Ironically, the towers of bunk beds and interpersonal drama between the contestants clouded their ability to look around and see what challenges would soon come their way.