Updated: November 10, 2021
“Squid Game” (2021) is a viral hit Korean drama on Netflix, written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk. The story revolves around 456 debt-ridden individuals who will compete in a series of deadly games for a chance to win 45.6 billion won.
Within two weeks since its release, it took the #1 spot in the list of “Most Watched Shows” on Netflix, making it a global phenomenon.
At an event in Los Angeles, USA, the main cast with the director celebrated the success of “Squid Game”. Director Hwang Dong-hyuk reveals through the Associated Press a second season, saying, “So there’s been so much pressure, so much demand, and so much love for a second season. So I almost feel like you leave us no choice. It’s too early to say when and how it’s going to happen. But I promise that we will come back and do something for the world. “
Season 2 is indeed confirmed and the planning is in process. While we await for the next season, here are five outstanding elements that made “Squid Game” a famous Netflix series worlwide:
1. The brutal adaptation of Korean traditional games.
One entertainment value of the show is the attention-grabbing brutal adaptation of Korean children’s games. And how the writer-director, Hwang Dong-hyuk, put a deadly spin on it is totally out of the box, unique, and original.
Interestingly, the survival concept heightened the suspense and thrill of the show. Players are given rules. A rigid time limit is set. A player gets eliminated by a brutal shot if the mission is not accomplished or if the time runs out.
“Flip the ddakji” is similar to America’s Pogs game where players take turns in flipping a tile. In the drama, it is the pre-test to get into the real game, where a salesman challenges a potential player to flip his folder paper tiles. Failure to do so means a slap. If successful, the person gets the chance to play more games with a tempting prize.
“Red Light, Green Light” is the first official game where listening, concentration, and controlled movements are the key to survive. Players are shot dead when the robot doll detects movements on a red light. Those who cross the finish line proceeds to the next game.
“Sugar Honeycombs”, also known as “Dalgona” is a Korean sugar candy offered to school kids by street vendors where they are challenged to remove the shape without a crack. A kid gets another candy if successful. In the drama, players are shot dead if they break the shape or unable to complete the mission within ten minutes.
“Tug-Of-War” is a popular game around the world, played not just by kids but is also mostly used for team building activities. Its origin is not specific, though. However, cooperation, teamwork, and rhythm are the important elements to win this game. In the drama, Player 001, the oldest member of the group, told his team a great strategy to beat the stronger opponent.
“Gganbu” appears to be the most emotional game of all. This marble game is a test of friendship that determines two kinds of players, to betray or get betrayed.
“Glass Stepping Stones” is a test of luck based on good judgment, discernment, and analysis. Players must have the ability to tell the difference between two glass panes and step on to the right one that will help them cross over to the other side safely and pass this game.
“Squid Game” is the final game of two players where speed, resilience, and physical strength are the key points to win. Whether defense or offense, they must do their best to eliminate the opponent. The last man standing takes home the 45.6 billion won.
The twisted games are totally intense and catchy, probably making it the most powerful highlight of the show.
2. The engaging storyline and plot.
“Squid Game” is more than a survival-themed series that takes you on a journey to the often neglected facet of society, gambling and poverty—a narrative that conveys the extreme competition of life.
Cleverly written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, the plot is arranged in a structure that keeps the audience hooked and unfolds the story interestingly with multiple plot twists.
For example, the Gganbu game, the policeman’s lost brother, and Player 001 were some of the unexpected twists of the show.
Moreover, it has a good balance of action and drama. The action scenes are gripping that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Whereas, the dramatic moments will keep you in an emotional turmoil.
The director did very well to execute the film to its fullest potential. Interestingly, it took the him almost twelve years to wait and see this production come to life.
Hwang Dong-hyuk revealed that this project was developed in 2008 but was rejected several times by potential investors and actors for its grotesque and unrealistic concept. Finally, in 2019 Netflix announced to create this original series, followed by the confirmation of casting in June 2020.
3. The creative and high-quality production value.
“Squid Game” delivers a good quality production value from aesthetic visuals, camera work, graphics, to excellent sound design, creating a cohesive binge-watching experience.
All the creative aspects including the huge doll, colorful costumes, masks, well-designed sets, black and pink coffins, cards, maze-like corridors and stairs are extremely creative, brilliant, and impressive.
Cinematography looks good, too with its camera work, shot selection, angles, and composition. Everything meshed together to portray a message.
Whereas the background score compliments the mood of its scenes and makes the games more horrifying and intense, giving the audience the “feels and thrills”. Interestingly, the OST has a unique kind of emotional impact that some YouTubers and musicians did covers of the songs.
Moreover, the public reception is so intense that a replica of the “Red Light, Green Light” doll was displayed in the Philippines. An exhibition of the game set also opened to the public in Itaewon, Seoul while a squid game store opened in Paris.
4. The realistic characters and stellar cast.
While the 2021 drama, “Squid Games” resembles the 2012-2015 film trilogy, “Hunger Games”, its characters are much more realistic portraying individuals from all walks of life.
The show explores the painful reality of life where humanity struggles to live through gambling, debts, dishonest gains, and stealing. “Life’s a gamble” to those who live in scarcity and shortage where they do desperate things in desperate situations in order to survive.
The characters move you to think, feel, and understand their personal outlook and choices in life caused by the injustices and suffering in the outside world.
For instance, when the prize money was revealed to the players, half of them voted to continue the deadly games and majority returned for the second game.
“So what if we leave? Tell me, what changes? Just as bad out there as it is in here,” says Player #212.
“Where am I supposed to go? Out there, I don’t stand a chance. I do in here. No, I’ve got nothing out there,” says Player #322.
It is also star-studded where each one delivered a powerful performance, making the audience empathize, relate to the characters, and feel what the story wants to feel.
5. The valuable lesson on greed.
Although the show is quite brutal, creepy, and violent, it reflects the reality that greed and self-interest are universal human traits, whether wealthy or underprivileged.
The drama conveys that it’s hard to trust anyone, even those closest to you, when life is at stake and where betrayal arises to survive for the lust of money. For example, the “Gganbu” game exposed the self-centeredness of some players to win the round.
However, the drama also shows that there are still good people amid a cruel world who sacrifice their chances for you to live better. Two players gave up their marbles, saying,
“I have nothing. You got a reason to get out of this place, but I don’t. The one who should have a reason to get back out there is you. You can do it. Don’t die in here.”
“Take it. It’s yours, anyway. We are gganbu, aren’t we? When you and I swore that we were gganbu buddies. Gganbu always share everything with each other no matter what.”
DRAMA RATING: 9/10
The global success of “Squid Game” is the result of a combination of factors, including a unique screenplay, creative direction, brilliant props, great cinematography, cool OST, and stellar performances.
Aside from its entertainment value, it also generates emotional impact, illustrating the painful realities of life and dark side of human nature in the real world.
“Squid Game” is definitely one of the great Korean shows in 2021! Daebak!