Squid Game: Netflix's Hit South Korean Thriller

The survival series Squid Game is suspenseful from start to finish

Still from the series 'The Squid Game'

The rules of the game are simple and clear, however the best and worst behaviors of the participants will come out. Photo: YT-Netflix

LatinAmerican Post | Luis Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: Squid Game: El exitoso thriller sucoreano de Netflix

Netflix premiered the South Korean series Squid Game in September, with immediate international success, while competing against other premieres of the month such as "La Casa de Papel", Sex Education, or the final season of Lucifer. Squid Game takes us to a sophisticated and deadly six-round game in which nearly 500 people fight for millions in money, what these players have in common is their desperate financial situation. The rules of the game are simple and clear, however, the best and worst behaviors of the participants will come out, who will show what they are willing to do to survive.

Squid Game

This series has become a global phenomenon in a short time, although its plot is not at all new, many examples can be cited that may have served as inspiration: Saw (James Wan), The Game (David Fincher), Cube (Vincenzo Natali), Circle (Mario Miscione, Aaron Hann), El Hoyo (Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia) and even Hostel (Eli Roth), among many others. The public's taste for titles of this genre has drawn them to Squid Game, which could explain part of its success, especially because of the originality of the competitor's games, which are South Korean children's games. Thus, Squid Game manages in its 9 episodes to keep the viewer on the edge of the seat, not only because of how bloody the games can be, but also because of the decisions of the participants, the sophistication, and the mystery that surrounds the competition.

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Although there are almost 500 participants, the series focuses on Seong Gi-hun as the protagonist: a divorced man, full of debt and with a problem with gambling. They also highlight other participants with whom Seong creates strong bonds of friendship, which leads him to serious dilemmas when he must face. The sophistication of the game has attracted the attention of the public and critics. In terms of production, the scenarios in which the series takes place are spectacular: the island, the game rooms and the clothing of the game's "workers" (which inevitably leads to a comparison with those of "La Casa de Papel" ).

Music plays an important role, within the game we see different leitmotifs reminiscent of the use of classical music in Stanley Kubrick's films. Squid Game highlights the use of the waltzes "The Blue Danube" by Johann Strauss and that of " Suite op. 48 " by Tchaikovsky, which give a characteristic stamp to the events. Throughout the episodes, there is a severe criticism of South Korean society, but that can well be applied to global capitalist society. These criticisms are towards the accumulation and concentration of wealth, the accessibility of the public health system, consumerism, and other practices that lead to indebtedness, including reflections on the power of the upper class and their ability to manipulate those who do not have the money. As we can see at some point, for the rich the game is simply another form of entertainment, while for the participants it can cost their lives. Thus, Seong will try to maintain his values throughout the game trying to win without harming anyone, at least intentionally.

From South Korea to the World

South Korea's music industry has remained strong thanks to K-Pop as one of its biggest export products, as has Doramas (Dramas) for several decades. However, South Korea's audiovisual production has expanded through series and films, like "Train to Busan" (Yeon Sang-ho) or "Parasites" (Bong Joon-ho), the latter winner Oscar for Best Picture, so the success of Squid Game is neither surprising nor gratuitous. South Korean culture has managed to reach the world thanks to its audiovisual and music industry, in line with other industries in the region such as the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan and Indonesia.

Due to the cliffhanger ending of Squid Game and its success on Netflix, it is foreseeable that we will see a second season, where we could learn more about the scope of the game organizers, as well as other possible editions of the event. We will also know if there is a way to stop the elaborate machinery involved in the game and the evolution of Seong's character. Apparently, the productions that have survival as their central axis, controlled environments like an escape room and some gore will continue to set the trend in the future, as happened with the premiere of the Spanish film "El Hoyo" that, within the platform, paved the way for series like the one that is now trending on Netflix.