Set to become the most popular non-English series in Netflix history, the Korean-language series Squid Game is a transcendent success that the world is embracing. The hyper-violence permeating the nine-episode thriller has taken over the streaming platform since its release on Friday, September 17th. It is the first K-drama to snag the top spot on the US side of Netflix, reaching the top 10 within the first two days and peaking at the number one spot on the 21st. So, if you ever wonder if the Rotten Tomatoes score (not always, if ever, a good judge of content) of 100% critic (9 reviews), 87% audience (679 reviews) is accurate, find out if it is for you! Also, if you are looking for a breakdown of the Netflix streaming data, Geeks & Gamers’ own Alex Gherzo did a great analysis of the topic right here!
Squid Game is more or less Hunger Games, Kill Bill, and Battle Royale rolled into one. “Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children’s games,” according to the Netflix description. “Inside, a tempting prize awaits – with deadly high stakes.” They do not hold back on the “deadly stakes” description either. 456 broke “players” are invited to compete for a pot of 45.6 billion won (roughly $38.5 Million USD). The trailer gives you a brief taste of what to expect; viewer discretion is advised:
If you were gagging at the trailer, then feel free to skip out on Squid Game. The gore and violence are amplified during the 50–60-minute run times (except Episode 8, at 32 minutes). Originally pitched to Netflix by director Hwang Dong-hyuk as Round Six in September of 2019 and even earlier envisioned as a feature film in 2008. It was taken back to the lab for a little while to work on the concept, eventually developing the firm Korean aesthetic. Hwang noted that he has drawn inspiration from Japanese comics and animation, citing his own financial struggles over the years and spending a lot of time in cafes reading comics such as Battle Royale and Liar Game. Hwang interviewed Soompi, where he finally galvanized his concept. He said, “I wanted to create a sense of connection between the nostalgic games we played in our childhood and the sense of never-ending competition that modern adults feel,” adding, “There’s an irony in our most beautiful and innocent memories being changed into the most horrifying reality.” sUbVeRtInG eXpEcTaTiOnS???
While there are currently no plans for a second season, the incredible popularity may end up forcing the hand of Netflix and Hwang Dong-hyuk. More than 14 billion videos with the hashtag #SquidGame have appeared on TikTok since the show debuted in mid-September, with that popularity trickling over to Instagram and Twitter because cancer metastasizes more often than not. The various games have been replicated for clicks, but one such poor bastard had the luck of having a phone number used in the show. During scenes in the first and second episodes, the number the participants must call to confirm their participation in the game is a real number for Gil-Young Kim, SBS News reported. Kim is a business owner in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea. This poor, unfortunate lady received somewhere in the ballpark of 4,000 calls and text messages in a single day because people are idiots. At least Netflix and Cyron Pictures are working to make it right for the business owner, offering 5 million won ($4,240 USD, about a buck a call). Still, she allegedly drives a hard bargain, according to Koreaboo.
It’s nice to see something different pop up that generates this much attention. Squid Game is something off the beaten path, more of a throwback to a previous age that will likely be free of social justice/woke themes. After all, it’s South Korea; they don’t do that crap.