Do you want to play games? The domestic Netflix drama, Squid Game, topped all 83 countries where Netflix rankings are counted. ST investigated the story behind the highly successful series, its hidden meaning, and why it was able to gain worldwide popularity........................................................................................................Ed
○ Netflix Web Drama Squid Game
On September 17, Squid Game was released on Netflix. The series, which consists of a total of nine episodes, contains social critical messages, such as the desire and frustration of modern society and the harmful effects of excessive competition, along with Korean elements, such as squid games, marble games, and dalgona (Korean honeycomb toffee).
△The Global Craze for Squid Game
Since its release, Squid Game has been writing a new history of K-content. For the first time among Korean series, it ranked first overall on Netflix’s Top 10 in the U.S., as well as topping the charts in several countries. Furthermore, Netflix’s market capitalization has increased by about 24.4343 trillion won since September 17, the release date of Squid Game. Its global success is cited as the main reason behind the strong Netflix stock prices.
□ The Secret of Its Popularity - Unique Style, Unique Material, and Korean-Style Simple Games
1. Unique Style and Unique Material.
Squid Game contains various elements, including sound effects, both primary and intense colors, close-ups, and slow motion. Unlike the brutal survival background, bright colors overwhelmed our eyes, while the delicate details of the setting attracted viewers’ attention. Also, all the games that appear in Squid Game are simple, and the narrative is explained in detail, unlike other game genres. Thus, viewers became curious about traditional Korean games, and empathized with the participants, immersing themselves in the series.
2. Reflecting on Reality – The Debt-taking Era
Real estate is soaring, and there are many people who have reversed their fortunes with stock market and coin investments. On the contrary, many have fallen, too. Overall, there is a trend about believing that ‘debt’ is the hope of life, and the path to life’s jackpot. Squid Game has gained sympathy from countless people living in this era by putting ‘debt’ as a key issue. Furthermore, viewers could relate to the extreme difficulties in survival, bankrupt household economy, and extreme social and economic isolation experienced by the characters. This reality clearly reveals that we are actually participants in Squid Game, and, even if we are not, we can become prospective participants in the game at any time.
○ The Hidden Meaning of Squid Game
1. A Double Track to the Racetrack.
In the beginning of the series, there is a scene where Ki-hoon bets money at the racetrack. This is a scene where people bet on animals. On the contrary, in Squid Game, rich people start wearing animal masks and betting money on the participants. This can be interpreted as animals betting on people. Moreover, Ki-hoon earned 4.56 million won at the racetrack before earning 45.6 billion won from becoming a racehorse in the squid game.
2. The Signature Figure in Squid Game, ‘○△□’.
What is the meaning of Squid Game’s business card logo, the host’s mask, and ○△□ that continued to appear throughout the game room? ○ symbolizes humans, △ violence, and □. □ is the shape of a bill, ○ represents a human face, and △ is drawn on the masks of the progressive agents who were holding guns. In other words, the squid game can be seen as a scene of violence (△) between humans who covet wealth (○). Ilnam, the host of the game, set the priority among these figures as □>△>○. You can see it by looking at the ranking of the progressive agents. In other words, it was viewed as wealth > violence > human beings. On the set, a piggy bank containing wealth was always hung on top. And violence always existed among people.
Netflix continues to support Korean content. Starting with Okja, which was produced in 2017, it has been producing Korean-made productions to captivate domestic users, with programs such as Persona and Kingdom. In particular, Netflix emphasized investment in Korea, leading to socioeconomic benefits and production costs of 20 billion won, such as that for Squid Game, which became popular around the world. Korean content is going global through Netflix. Let’s look forward to seeing more world-class works such as Squid Game in the future.
Noh Yun-jung (ST Reporter)
Kim Yu-jeong (ST Reporter)