Squid Game – A Frighteningly Realistic Story

Lily Hessling, Writer

As a majority of people may already know, Netflix has released a new show called “Squid Game”. This thriller has caught the attention of many and has become well-known in mainstream culture – American and Korean alike. With all the hype, some may wonder if the show is really worth watching or if it is all exaggerated.

There is one reason that many may avoid it – the show is spoken entirely in Korean with only the English subtitles to aid you in what they say. There is also controversy over how well the subtitles are really translating what is being said in the show, with many bilingual and native Korean speakers speaking disapprovingly of some of the captions. It has been stated that with the difference in translation the depth of characters are lost. 

However, the overall meaning of the show is not lost.  The main concept of the show is to bring 456 people who are all in some way in debt together to compete in a series of games with a chance to win 45.6 billion Korean Won or about 36 Million USD. What they are not aware of before the games start is what exactly they are playing and how deadly the games really are. As the story progresses the viewer begins to see a powerful message, amazing imagery, and detailed characters. 


Through the show you meet a cast of very different characters while watching them compete against each other in common children’s games – turned gruesome.

The show mostly follows Seung Gi-hun, a struggling middle-aged father with a gambling addiction who struggles to hold down a job and is looked down upon by his family. The beginning of the show shows this struggle. He is shown to steal money from his mother to gamble on horses. In a surprising turn of events, he ends up winning and gaining a large amount of money, but then losing most of it and spending the rest – letting down his family in the process.

Soon he finds out that his aging mother is struggling with overworking herself. She informs Seung that his daughter will be moving to America with her mother and step father by next year. Seung’s bad luck seems to change with the opportunity of competing in the Squid Games to earn money and get himself out of debt. 

Seung is the last player to enter and becomes Player 456. Around him are are hundreds of people in similar financial situations but with different backgrounds. One of the first people he is seen talking to is Player 1, an old man with a growing brain tumor who is set to pass away soon.

Throughout the games and challenges he also meets other players with a wide range of different motivations, good and bad. For example, Player 067, the pickpocket from the very beginning, is a young girl coming from North Korea with the motivation of getting her brother out of an orphanage into a good home, while Player 101 is a cut-throat gangster who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty to get what he wants. As the games unfold we learn more about each character and their various stories. 

The show has gained so much attention that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos decided to tweet his approval, sparking rage in many. His tweet received criticism because Bezos is a perfect example of the very behavior the show targets. In the show, multiple contestants are forced to join because of how they were treated terribly by bad employers and they also show a group of rich CEOs who have bet on the people in the games, as if they were horses in a race instead of normal human beings. Similarly, Jeff Bezos has in the past been one to overwork and abuse his workers in various ways, such as not allowing them restroom breaks throughout the day and forcing them to go to extremes just to be able to relieve themselves.

Interestingly, the show is out much later than when it was written. The show was unusually written in 2008 but met difficulty as the show’s creator Hwang Dong-Hyuk struggled to find a production team. Hwang’s initial struggle for finding help on production came from a bad financial situation and lack in confidence of how well his message would be preserved with how bizarre the message could be at times. In 2019, though, Netflix took interest in his script and produced the show to bring more interest and attention to foreign films. Hwang Dong-Hyuk remains the sole writer of all 9 episodes of the series and became the director of the series as well. 

Hwang Dong-Hyuk and Netflix have hit the jackpot – Squid Game recently became the most viewed show in Netflix history. It’s up to you do decide whether Squid Game is worthy of that position.