Netflix’s smash hit “Squid Game” shocks viewers with its deadly twists


Photo courtesy of Netflix

“Squid Game”, set in South Korea, has unique commentary on real world issues.

Ella Kotok, Reporter

“Squid Game,” the Korean psychological thriller series which is streaming on Netflix, has recently taken the world by storm. The show is a blend of real-world scenarios and fictional elements that offers a unique commentary on the contemporary issues of poverty and financial hardships in society. 

The show follows the journey of Gi-Hun (played by Lee Jung-jae), a Korean man who finds himself in serious debt. He is first seen gambling on horse races and winning a considerable sum of money, which he plans to use to pay off part of his debt. It is then revealed that Gi-Hun is a father, with very limited custody of his daughter due to his inability to support her financially. He then ends up losing the money he had just won to a pickpocket, and makes the trip home with his head hung low.

At the train station on his way home, Gi-Hun is given the opportunity to make some money by playing a classic Korean children’s game with a mysterious man. After almost giving up on the game, he finally wins and the man hands him a business card with three shapes — a triangle, a circle and a square — on the front and a phone number on the back. The man tells him that if he wants to play more games like the one he just did for money, he should call the number on the back of the business card.

After calling the number and opting into the game, Gi-Hun and 455 other financially troubled players are taken to an obscure island by soldiers in red tracksuits and black masks with white shapes — either a triangle, a circle or a square. It is there that the game begins.

The six games are each renditions of Korean children’s games, but they’re not for the faint of heart. There’s a deadly twist; the losers of each game are killed on sight. With each dead player, more prize money is added to a giant piggy bank hanging over the players. After the games are finished, the last one standing would receive a prize of 45 billion won which translates to around 38 Million US dollars.

There is a deeper philosophical underpinning to the show, beyond the blood and gore. “Squid Game” illustrates the very real issue of financial poverty and societal inequality, both in Korea and beyond.

Each of the players in “Squid Game” suffer from severe debt as a result of financial hardships in South Korea, who’s debt-to-gross domestic product percentage is approaching the largest on record, according to CNBC. The show is an interesting criticism of the country’s current financial situation, as well as a more abstract critique of society’s collective obsession with obtaining wealth and success.  

“Squid Game” begs the questions: where is the line drawn when it comes to money? How far will society go to obtain wealth, even if it results in their own demise?

Personally, I loved this show. I am generally a tough TV critic, but “Squid Game” was addictive; I found myself becoming obsessed with rooting for certain characters and hating others. It was full of plot twists that made me gasp and then question everything I had just watched. The entirety of the show took me about a week to finish—I just kept watching episode after episode. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who doesn’t mind the gore. 

Interesting, gory and thought-provoking, “Squid Game” is a good option for the next great show to binge watch on Netflix.