Squid Game, A Netflix-Original hit charts in September as the most popular show and has already registered itself as the biggest series launch Netflix ever had with over 100 million views globally. It's a win for the creator and a huge positive for content in present times. Korea generates quite a lot of interest since its entertainment industry is already huge across the globe, but this show has taken the OTT game forward by making a statement about language not being a barrier for the viewers today. But, this is exactly not a boast for Korea. This show exposes the darkness and the vulnerability that exists in the country, it's a powerful stab on greediness, rising income disparities, and unequal socio-economic battles that the poor engage with, every day. With the kind of attention, Squid Game has received, I wonder how much do we end up carving out, since the purpose of the show is just not entertainment, but a lot beyond that.
The show largely revolves around a set of games, that are prevalent during childhood, and a set of people who compete to win that handsome prize money. But, there's a twist. The one who is eliminated dies. The concept may not be the most unique, but the details and the depth the creators have given to these deaths, the visuals, the violence is more than seen otherwise. These visuals that I just spoke about are quite colorful, juxtaposing to the darkness prevailing in these scenes in particular. Episode by episode there are more deaths, more connections that ultimately face the judgment-day prematurely. A lot of human concerns are subtly depicted, some indirectly to some straight to point and by the end, you just feel comfortable with these killings, Imagine it can be that vulnerable.
Starting with Gi-hun, the protagonist deals with debt issues and gambling. The character even struggles personally due to his broken family which I believe has a lot to do with his financial problems. He lives with an ailing mother which just adds to his already existing problems. His childhood friend Sang-woo is always introduced by the university he went to, which happens to be the best in Korea so subtly depicting the obsession Koreans have with sending their children to fancy universities. Children in Korea study for more than 12 hours each day through schools, academies, and tuitions right from middle school due to the excessive competition that exists. So mentally taxing and pressuring. Ali, on the other hand, is an even darker portrayal of the exploitation that exists of the poor, and also the racism aspect of the immigrants and darker-skinned in the country. It was thought-provoking to see him bowing down a lot many times while speaking to Sang-Woo.
Korea is an expensive place to be with a lot of people, hence housing is so costly that people with meager incomes live in super small hostel-sized places. That's not it. Some other complications that the country deals with are high rates of prostitution and the sex trade. There are numerous texts on darker sides of Korea's Pop Industry, where aspirants spend years training under strict conditions, maintaining weight brackets under managerial supervision, gender separations, and fierce competition. Korea as a society is highly captivated by the beauty, fashion, and looking good as per standards. Children from the minor ages of 7-8 wear nails, foundations, hair dyes, and whatnot. The drinking culture there is ridiculous and starts young. The inhumane business of selling organs of the dead, hunger and poverty problems, petty-thug businesses are more touched bases that are exposing and troubling, not just in Korea but the world today.
The show doesn't end by making you feel any better either. With it reaching to that many minds and people, it doesn't just question the atramentous culture developed in Korea but lands a punch on the faces of humans. We as a global society need to be more inter-mingled, supportive, cultured, humanitarian, and kind at the end. Money, cannot and shall never be the sole reason to work and die for. Urge that we just do not take it as another-trend-making web show, but think, talk, ponder, and correct on the concerns it raises.