The World Has a New Obsession, Netflix’s  ‘Squid Game’

By John Mineses

Staff Writer

Netflix’s new Korean drama series, “Squid Game” is thrilling, dark, emotional, action-packed and on its way to becoming the streaming platform’s biggest series in history.

The series stars Korean actors Lee Jung-Jae as Seong Gi-Hun, Park Hae-Soo as Cho Sang-Woo, Wi Ha-Joon as Detective Hwang Jun-ho and Hoyeon Jung as Kang Sae-Byeok. 

Series creator and director, Hwang Dong-hyuk, created the series in 2008. The idea was rejected time after time, but Dong-hyuk never gave up on his script. Over a decade later, the series was picked up by Netflix and now is a worldwide phenomenon in 2021.

The drama series released on Netflix on September 17 has since become the number one show in 90 different countries. The series has also become an internet phenomenon, sparking multiple memes and trends on TikTok and similar videos on various social media platforms.

With the amount of hype on social media and the record breaking pace of its streams, one who does not know the series may want to know what story is creating all this commotion.

The nine episode series mainly takes place in South Korea and on an unknown island in the area where the “games” are played. The story follows the lead character Gi-Hun and also showcases the multiple stories of other participants who each have their own life struggles and debts. From gambling debts to business fraud, each character has had their own path that led them to be invited to play the games for a cash prize of $45.6 Billion Won.

When the participants arrive at the games, they find themselves in arenas, playing games from their childhood. However, they do not know that these games have life or death consequences and are forced to put their lives on the line for the final prize.

In episode one, the well-known childhood game “Red Light, Green Light,” is played, where a giant doll figure leads the game. In a dramatic turn of events, it is found that the doll has a motion sensor that detects who moves after “red light” is called and subsequently eliminates them. When it is revealed that losing the game means being killed, the roster of 456 participants is cut down significantly. Those who survive continue to play the rest of the five games in order to leave with the prize, and their lives. 

The characters face multiple challenges in the games and also with each other as the fight for the large cash prize leads to more conflicts and violence in this game of survival. 

The series sheds light on the ethical and moral values of people in desperation and whether shedding humanity is worth the lives of others in order to be the final survivor.

The success of the series can potentially be linked to how viewers relate to the elements of the show. The childhood games create a sense of nostalgia for many viewers who used to know or play these games as kids. The bloodshed of the show can connect to many humans’ adult nature and interests and the viewers can debate about whether they like certain character traits or decisions within the show. 

In today’s world where ultimate power is directly connected to wealth and money, this series makes people think about what they would do for the prize of ultimate financial gain.  Playing childhood games with the ironic twist of death in order to be financially wealthy is a creative direction that makes people wonder what it would be like if what was on the screen actually happened in real-life. 

It is quite ironic how the lesson of the creation of the show is that perseverance can go a very long way in life, and perseverance can also take you very far in the world of  “Squid Game.”

The popularity of “Squid Game” is still raging on, and it seems that pretty soon it will become Netfllix’s most streamed series of all time. With the ongoing support for the series, a second season is something that fans are hoping to see. It is known what the fan’s want but it has yet to be seen whether Netflix or the creators will go for a second round.

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“Squid Game” has been Netflix’s most streamed series of all time since its debut on Sept. 17.

Art by John Mineses | Photo in Art Courtesy of IMDB