Why Is Everyone Actually Crazy About Netflix’s Series Squid Game?

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Written by: Maine Dela Cruz

Warning: Spoilers ahead!

We could all agree that it’s Squid Game season.

With a gripping story and endearing characters, Squid Game has been a huge sensation on Netflix. It can be considered one of the movies one will binge-watch. After it premiered on September 17, the South Korean series quickly trended on international streaming platforms. It took the No. 1 spot in the United States just days after its premiere, quicker than that of any other non-English series, according to Netflix. The show is currently winning the hearts of many audiences around the world, including Filipinos. Weeks after its premiere, the South Korean drama held the top spot on Netflix Philippines’ most-watched titles. As of this writing, Squid Game remains trending as the Top 2 of most-watched titles in the country.

The enigmatic game series scored 4 out 5 on Empire, 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 8.3 over 10 in IMDB. A Squid Game review by Forbes recommends you to watch the series if you can handle the gore and tragedy. Speaking of money, this cautionary tale about the many awful things people can do to win easy money and how money can ruin lives also features masked men looking like the characters in another Netflix Series’ Money Heist.

How Squid Game Came to Be

Squid Game creator, director, and writer Hwang Dong-hyuk started developing the story idea about desperate players competing for a prize despite the deadly stakes in 2008, right after he made his directorial debut in My Father in 2007. It took him more than a decade to make it happen because there were no takers at that time. He, however, believes the timing now is just perfect.

Squid Game Synopsis

Squid Game begins with driver Seong Gi-Hun who has a gambling problem and owes a lot of money to loan sharks. He’s a single father who lives with his mother and works hard to provide for his young daughter’s needs. A game recruiter hands Gi-Hun a card at the railway station, asking him to take part in a high-stakes game.

The desperate Gi-Hun agrees, is knocked unconscious, and awakens in a dormitory with hundreds of other individuals. There are a total of 456 participants, all of whom are struggling financially. Their jumpsuits include numbers on the front that identifies them. A 45.6 billion won prize money is up for grabs for anyone who can win six children’s games in a row. The Front Man, together with the rest of the crew, runs the show.

Some of the players, like Cho Sang-woo, are familiar to Gi-Hun because they were classmates in high school. Player 001, an old gentleman, becomes a buddy of his as well.

The hunger games begin

Red Light, Green Light is the opening round’s theme, and the participants are taken aback when those who lose are assassinated. Most of them don’t advance any farther. Gi-Hun goes to the police when the players vote to stop the game. Because his missing brother got the card, only Detective Hwang Jun-Ho believes it.

Most of the cash-strapped players accept the strange invitation to go resume the game. Tug-of-war and marbles are on the schedule for the remaining rounds until a few players remain. This game is played by children in South Korea and it’s the last round.

Jun-ho sneaks into the game’s facility to look for his brother at this period. His brother was the game’s victor in 2015, which he learns when he raids Front Man’s office. Front Man pursues him while he attempts to flee the compound. In-Ho, Jun-Ho’s brother is revealed to be the Front Man in question. Despite knowing it was his brother, he proceeds to kill Jun-Ho. With one bullet to the chest, he sends him crashing into the water.

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Netflix’s Squid Game: ending explained

There are only two players left in the Squid game for the championship. The final round presents Gi-Hun and Sang-Woo reminiscing their childhood game. Gi-Hun defeats his old rival, but he won’t play games anymore. A provision in the contract allows him to stop the case, but Sang-Woo uses it as an opportunity to stab himself in the back instead. As he’s about to pass away, he begs Gi-Hun to donate a portion of the award money to Sang-Woo’s elderly mother.

As soon as Gi-Hun gets back to his house, he learns that his mother has passed away. After a year, he is still suffering from the effects of the ordeal. To yet, he has not tinkered with the funds.

Player 001

It so happens that he receives a brown game card again one night. After he responds, he runs into Oh Il-Nam, the old guy from Player 001.  It turns out that the game is Il-Nam’s brainchild. On his deathbed, he reveals he designed the game to keep VIP guests and himself entertained when they were bored to tears. And he also desired to see if people still had any goodwill left in them.

Il-name said that he wanted to take part because it would be “pleasant” to go back to that time and since he is dying. His final request to Gi-Hun is to check bet with him if anyone can help a drunken guy on the street by midnight by playing a game with him. Gi-Hun is victorious, and Il-Nam passes away.

Gi-Hun is startled awake from his gloomy state. When it comes to helping Sang-Woo’s mom and removing Sae-Byeok’s little brother from the orphanage, he keeps his word. On his way to the airport, Gi-Hun is excited to see his daughter for the first time in a long time. In the meantime, Gi-Hun runs across the man who brought him to the game. When he gets the card from another potential victim, he dials the number on it.

He tells the man on the other end of the call (probably Front Man) that he can’t forgive them for what they are doing.  With a determined expression on his face, he marches on. Gi-Hun seems like he’s ready to end the game for good.

Squid Game Main Characters

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Photo from Anupam Tripathi’s Instagram Account

When a life-or-death game pits hundreds of participants against one another, viewers can understand how far people will go to live. In spite of the fact that they are engaged in an intense rivalry, the show’s most likable characters have a strong cause to keep battling. When each game brings out the worst in its participants, some of the major characters are nonetheless surprisingly likable despite the series’ brutal plot.

1. Lee Jung-jae as Seong Gi-Hun

The series’ main character, he’s a divorced father who gambles his money away leaving him broke. He joins the enigmatic game with hopes to win easy money.

2. Park Hae-Soo as Cho Sang-Woo

This character played by Park Hae Soo is Gi-Hun’s former classmate and long-time friend who now works in the securities industry as an executive and is wanted by the authorities on suspicion of fraud.

3. Oh Young-Soo as Oh Il-Nam

Also known as Player 001, he is an elderly guy named Il-Nam who joined the game when he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. He is also the game’s designer.

4. Jung Ho-Yeon as Kang Sae-Byeok

She is a North Korean defector who joins the game to get money for her family to cross the South Korean border.

5. Tripathi Anupam as Ali Abdul

Ali is Squid Game’s most lovable character. In the first episode, ‘Red Light, Green Light,’ the kindhearted player risks his life just to save Gi-Hun. He understands what it’s like to be abused by nasty people, and he doesn’t want others to go through it.

6. Lee Yoo-Mi as Ji-Yeong

She is a strange young woman who develops a strong emotional attachment to Sae-Byeok.

7. Wi Ha-Joon as Hwang Jun-Ho

He’s a police investigator on a mission to recover his missing brother, and he sneaks into the game to do it.

8. Lee Byung-Hun as The Front Man or In-Ho

Hwang In-Ho, the brother of Jun-Ho is found to be the game’s mysterious masked organizer.

Six Children’s Games Featured in Squid Game

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Photo from Anupam Tripathi’s Instagram Account

The Squid Game consists of six children’s games in all. Several of these games are scary just because the participants have no idea what game they’re going to play until they’re in it. Aside from that, they’re very simple – as long as you keep your calm.

1. First Game – Red Light, Green Light

The first game in the Netflix series was a Korean adaptation of one of the classic children’s games “Red Light, Green Light.” The Korean title of the game is “The mugunghwa blossom has bloomed.” South Korea’s national flower is Mugunghwa (Rose of Sharon).

They must move towards a finish line near a gigantic robotic doll like a small child in the K-drama series. Only after hearing the words “The mugunghwa blossom has bloomed” (in an eerie childlike voice) could the participants move. Those who moved during the silence were shot dead.

The fact that this is the first of six games in the tournament implies that many individuals will die trying to escape before the other players wake up and start playing appropriately. The players have only five minutes to reach the finish line without being executed. Red Light, Green Light is the ideal prelude to the competition’s competitors’ nightmares.

2. Second Game – Dalgona

In the second game, participants had to carve designs out of Dalgona sweets, a sort of honeycomb biscuit. The crispy street snack prepared from melted sugar and baking soda was popular among kids in the 1970s and 1980s.

Players in the Squid Game series had to eat around the form without breaking it, but they were each given a small needle pin to do it. Players who broke the outline of the form they were given (a circle, triangle, star, or umbrella) immediately meet their demise.

3. Third Game – Tug of War

The third game challenges the players’ teamwork and strategic capabilities. The tug of war, a popular children’s game was the third challenge. The participants were separated into teams and forced to play tug of war. The game is played on an elevated platform with a big gap in the middle separating the two teams. The rope was cut off by a large guillotine after the losing team was pushed over the edge of the platform and plunged through the abyss.

4. Fourth Game – Marbles

The fourth game of the competition was marbles, another classic retro childhood pastime. In the fourth game, participants were divided into pairs and competed against each other. Some were observed estimating how many marbles the other person held in their hand, while others tossed the marbles on the ground toward a goal.

In order to win the game, one player had to win all 10 of the other player’s marbles, then a staff member would shoot the loser.

5. Fifth Game – Glass Bridge

The fifth game is the stepping stone bridge game, which sees children stepping over stones poking out of a stream or river to get to the other side, formed the theme of the penultimate match of the survival competition. In this round, we also discover the game involves elite VIP guests betting which player survives the deadly high stakes.

The stepping bridge in the fifth game featured glass panels instead of stones and was placed at a deadly elevated height. Each of the players was required to walk across the bridge. Some of the panels were made of stronger, tempered glass, while others were made of the weaker, normal glass. So depending on the panel they stepped on, some players plunged to their death.

6. Sixth Game – Squid Game

The last round presents the titular Squid Game, a popular childhood street game in Korea, featuring the series’ director Hwang Dong-hyuk.

At a press conference on September 15 before the series’ launch, Hwang described the Squid Game as the most competitive game he’d ever played as a kid. The game involves two players (or teams) fighting within a grid created on the ground that resembles a squid’s shape. Before the game begins, the players will pick who will be the attacker (offense) and who will be the defender (defensive), as each role has distinct constraints.

The narrator explains the rules of the vintage game in the first scene of the Squid Game series. To win, the attackers must tap the squid’s head with their foot. You perish if a defender succeeds to force you outside the squid’s border.

Will There Be A Squid Game Season 2?

will there be squid game season 2 - streamtech fiber internet
Screen capture from Netflix’s Youtube Account

Besides Gi-Hun’s comeback, Hwang Dong-hyuk has been considering a new central focus for the sequel to Squid Game season 1.

According to the Squid Game director, it will be more about the former officer who now runs the game. While Squid Game Season 1 dwells with the themes of South Koreans’ issue on debt, with the show’s deliberate metaphor of modern capitalism. Considering the possibility of a second season that delves deeper into police corruption, untouchable elites and crooked institutions, the world of “Squid Game” appears to be more relevant than ever. We can only hope that season is given the go signal and that Gi-Hun is able to survive yet another bloody round of battle royale.

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