Across the Board Culture film movie

Red Light, Green Light: A Look Inside the Netflix’s Hit Series “Squid Game”

Green tracksuits. Masked pink men. Children’s games. These are all components of the latest, and one of the most popular, Korean dramas to air on Netflix: Squid Game. Set in modern-day Seoul, a series of challenges, obstacles, and internal conflicts are thrown upon a group of individuals as they fight for the chance to win a hefty sum of cash. What makes Squid Game so appealing to its audience, pulling in both avid K-drama watchers and outsiders alike, is its accessibility and social commentary on mass conformity and capitalism.

Released on Netflix on September 17th, the drama was released to provide virtually full access to anyone interested in watching, offering 37 subtitles and 34 dubs in different languages. With the wide range of languages for viewers to choose from, this makes interpretation and understanding easier. Moreover, while the subtitles are not as accurate when translated from the original Korean, it still provides enough context to get the full picture of what happens within each episode.

Another interesting factor Squid Game holds, however, is its ability to entice those who may have never been introduced to Korean or non-English entertainment. Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite was one of the first films to make headlines in the United States, most particularly for its outtake on wealth inequality within Korea. Squid Game has its own social commentary, honing in on how a corrupt economy pushes people to their extremes, inherently forcing them to commit both acts of violence and immorality.

Still shot of Bong Joon-ho's film Parasite (Source: Slate)

Focusing on Seong Gi-Hun, a father struggling to make enough money to support his daughter and mom, and several other characters, all share the same goal: to win the cash prize offered to them at the beginning of the games. Initially, while no one knows what’s at stake for them and their peers, it becomes clear that it’s now a game of life or death.

Pictured (left to right): Cho Sang-woo (Park Hae Soo), Seong Gi-Hun (Lee Jung-jae),
& Kang Sae-byeok (Jung Ho-yeon)
(Source: Netflix)

Squid Game does a spectacular job at making the show engaging, starting fast-paced right from episode one, while also making the viewer sympathize with the people they meet. With all different stories to tell, each character adds another layer to the drama, making the audience further question who is good and who is bad.

Going into this drama, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that it was a popular show on Netflix, and it would keep me on the edge of my seat. The latter proved true as I found myself eager to finish each episode, with each cliffhanger leaving me craving for more information. So many questions popped into my head, anticipating every character’s next move and how it would affect the overall timeline.

If you liked The Hunger Games or have watched the Japanese thriller, Alice in Borderland, Squid Game is up your alley and is worth watching. The more you watch, the deeper you get connected into the enigma and mysteries surrounding the game–and people–itself.

Works Cited

McCarthy, Tyler. “’Squid Game’ to Become Netflix’s Most Popular Show: Everything to Know.” Fox Business, Fox Business, 4 Oct. 2021, http://www.foxbusiness.com/entertainment/squid-game-netflix-most-popular-show-everything-to-know.

Walden, Max. “Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ Is a Sensation. Here’s Why It’s so Popular.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 13 Oct. 2021, http://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/pop-culture-news/netflix-s-squid-game-sensation-here-s-why-it-s-n1280646.

Images via: Netflix, Slate

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