Would you play games for an insane amount of money with your own life in line? Is it really worth it? Because in this band of games, you have no exit once you enter and finish with the entire line. Would you be up for a peril like that?
Director Hwang Dong-Hyuk created a Korean TV series titled “Squid Games” on par with the above concept: the “Win or Die”. Aired on the 17th of September, 2021 with 9 episodes of horror, the series features a competition with 456 random entrants where an unbelievable amount of wealth is promised to whoever survives in a sequence of brutal games. The games are upgraded versions of traditional Korean children’s playground activities:
1. Red Light, Green Light
This is a game played by children all around the world; one player stands in a corner with their back turned to the others and while he/she chants “red light, green light”, the others can move forward before the person turns around. In Squid Game, a giant doll stands near a tree and chants “red light, green light”. When she stops the chant and turns, whoever moves is shot to death. (Beware cause her eyes have motion detectors!)
2. Sugar Honeycombs
In this game, each player is provided with a circular tin that can be opened to reveal a sugar honeycomb with different shapes: a circle, a triangle, a star or an umbrella. They were given a needle to carve out the shapes perfectly and whoever makes even a tiny crack is shot to death.
3. Tug of War
Tug of War makes the formed teams use all of their strength and skills to make the other group fall to their death by tugging on a rope. In this game, one group portrays to the others that it is not always about strength. There are skillful tactics that can be used instead of pulling with all your might.
Each player in this game is given a bag with ten marbles and divided into pairs. You have to win every marble the opponent has. The problem however is, that when they were told to pair up, most of them pair up with the person closest to them in the competition. And each one of them will have to get their opponent (aka the one who’s closest to them) killed.
This is the game where you jump from one square to another, avoid some along the way and make your way back in. Inspired by this common game, Squid Game has reinvented a game where there’s no going back. The players have to jump through a bridge with two glass squares side by side. One square out of the two is tempered and can hold up to two players at a time. The other is rather fragile, so whoever jumps on it falls to the pit of death. They only get sixteen minutes overall.
6. Squid Game
This is the last game of the series and is played by the last remaining players out of 456. A square, triangle and two circles are drawn on the ground and the two players try to invade the other’s space while hopping on one foot on most areas, without touching the lines.
Apart from the mind-blowing games they are made to play, there are a lot more they encounter inside that prison-like place. As the series goes on, we also encounter a business that runs on inside the marathon of games, that is selling human organs from the killed.
The show depicts the impact of capitalism on modern society while running on a plot that is both melodramatic and satirical. It further illustrates the changing human nature when faced with danger and hope for success/money. They lack choices, to be frank, and all they care about is getting out of there with the prize money. The socioeconomic divide is vivid throughout the show; how the poor is exploited by the rich.
If these players are FORCED to play these games, well, we could believe it. But the staggering fact lies far more beyond that. Yes, they first came inside without knowing the consequences. They only knew that they had to play simple games and whoever wins takes a massive amount of prize money home. But after playing the first game and witnessing the cruelty of the whole operation, they get to return home. Then they again get a choice to go there. So, those who enter that hell pit does so while in the knowledge of all the slaughtering and barbarism ongoing. They made a CHOICE!
Despite all that, if you choose to watch Squid Game, (which I highly recommend) watch it at your own risk and await several exhilarating plot twists!
Anyway, the show is a runaway hit. It was aired on Netflix and the show rocketed to the top of Netflix’s most-viewed releases. Within three weeks of release, Squid Game managed to be the most popular Korean drama in the history of Netflix and was even on its way to surpass Bridgerton as the most popular show in Netflix history.
The show was mainly casted by Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, Ho Yeon Jung, O Yeon-su, Heo Sung-tae, Anupam Tripathi and Kim Joo-ryoung. Squid Games was further awarded from many such as Screen Actors Guild Awards (2022), AACTA International Awards (2022), AFI Awards, USA (2022), American Cinema Editors, USA (2022), Art Directors Guild (2022), Asia Artist Awards (2021), etc.
Hwang Dong-hyuk, the creator of Squid Game came up with the idea for the plot after years of reading manga (Japanese comics) and manhwa (Korean comics) with themes similar to that of the show. He coupled this theme of terror to that of a prevailing condition in society; the lucid gap between rich and poor and the suppression of the underprivileged. Moreover, the lack of job opportunities that comes with socioeconomic conditions.
The korean TV show sets forth diverse thematic concerns in modern contemporary society, but in a much more brutal manner. However, putting aside the negative aspects presented by the series, and taking into account how this has become a major hit worldwide, Squid Game is definitely worth watching. But remember, AT YOUR OWN RISK!