Squid Game – Everything you should know about this Korean Series

Last Updated on November 25, 2021 by 90 Day Korean
Squid Game

If you’ve read the news or been on social media at all lately, “Squid Game” might already sound familiar to you. The name itself can already get someone curious, so what is Squid Game all about?

In this article, we will explain to you the plot of the TV show and how it relates to real-life in Korea, especially regarding the children’s games played in it. Let’s see what this much gushed Korean series is all about!

Squid Game

What’s Squid Game about?

Squid Game, also known as 오징어 게임 (Ojingeo Geim), is a Netflix series directed by director Hwang Dong Hyuk. This nine-episode series tells the story of people who were invited to play games, specifically children’s games, and compete for cash in desperate need of money.

These cash-strapped players accepted the strange invitation, and they were eventually picked up and brought to an unknown location. A total of 456 players initially entered the competition, and they quickly realized that winning the massive cash prize (equal to about $USD 38 million) has deadly high stakes.

The first episode out of the nine episodes ends with the majority of the players in the game voting to stop the game, and they initially return to their old lives. However, due to the same circumstances, they agreed to enter the game in the first place, most players end up volunteering to go back to finish the game properly in hopes that they will win the tempting prize.

What does the name Squid Game mean?

The show explains that the name “Squid game” comes from one of the popular children’s games played in the neighborhood of the lead character, Seong Gi-hun (played by actor Lee Jung Jae) when he was young. It is played on a squid-shaped court, with the idea of the game being similar to the Western children’s games tag and Red Rover.

Did real-life events inspire Squid Game?

While Squid Game is not a true story, its creators did draw inspiration from real life in Korea and elsewhere. Notable points were the poor state of the Korean economy back in 2008 and Donald Trump’s presidency.

What games are played in Squid Game?

A couple of different games are played in Squid Game, all of which are actual children’s games played in Korea.

Squid Game Play Games

Korean Pogs

Firstly, Squid Game begins – and also ends – with the main character Seong Gi-hun being approached by a stranger at a subway station, challenging him for a game of 딱지 (ttakji). In this game, a round of “rock, scissor, paper” will denote which player will get to go first. The other player will drop his ttakji – a paper tile – on the ground, and the other player will attempt to throw their tile so that the opponent’s paper tile flips over.

Red Light, Green Light

The first official game once the participants have entered Squid Game is called Mugunghwa Flower Has Bloomed (무궁화꽃이 피었습니다, mugunghwakkotchi pieosseumnida), which is a game internationally known as “Red Light, Green Light.” The Korean version of the game differs slightly, as instead of yelling out red light or green light, the “it” player will sing “무궁화꽃이 피었습니다.”

This introduces the players to the actual game they’ve entered. If you’ve heard about Squid Game or seen clips of it online, one of the most iconic parts is this game where the “Squid Game doll” chants the 무궁화꽃이 피었습니다 song. The doll appears to be a giant robot doll that detects movements from the players when it’s already “red light” and when they’re not supposed to move. If you’d think of Squid Game, this doll most likely will be the first one to come to mind!

mugunghwakkotchi pieosseumnida

Photo credit: https://vulture.com; https:netflix.com

Honeycomb (Dalgona) Challenge

The first game the participants play once they voluntarily come back to the game is known as Dalgona Challenge – or Ppopgi (뽑기). In this game, each player is given their own honeycomb-like treat, with a figure drawn in, and they are supposed to get the figure out of the treat without breaking it.

Tug of War

Game #3 is another children’s game played all around the world, Tug of War. In Korean, the game is called juldarigi (줄다리기).

Marbles

Game #4 is played with marbles. This time, the players get to choose which game featuring marbles; specifically, they want to play, as there are multiple children’s games played with marbles in South Korea. The purpose of any of these games is to collect all of the opponent’s marbles.

Glass Game

Game #5 features a glass bridge and is the only game in the drama that is not an existing game. However, due to the popularity of Korean drama, it is possible to play a version of it online. Try googling “Squid Game, Glass Game,” for example, to find a version of it.

Squid Game

The final game played in the drama is Squid Game which is known in Korea as 오징어 게임 (Ojingeo Geim). This game requires a big space, like a schoolyard, so that the shape of a squid can be drawn on it. Typically it’s played in two teams. The offense will start the game from the squid’s head, while the defense will be in the squid’s body.

The game starts with the offense team hopping on one foot from the head to the middle point. From there, they have two options to win: they either hop from one side of the center point to another, without the defense managing to disqualify them, or they can hop to the bottom of the squid’s body and try to “combat” past the defense to reach back to the head of the squid.

Squid Game Location

Photo credit: https://netflix.com

Is Squid Game a real game in Korea?

Yes, it is! Squid Game is actually a real game played in Korea.  The rules of the real-life Squid Game are the same as how it was portrayed in the first part of the show. The players of the game are typically children or elementary school-aged boys.

Why should you watch Squid Game?

Squid Game quickly reached the number 1 watched show on Netflix all around the world upon release. In fact, it only took Squid Game four days to reach the spot. There’s even the possibility that Squid Game will become Netflix’s most-watched show altogether, thus far, and it’s certainly grown to be one of its biggest series launches, completely by surprise.

The series is this popular and talked about this much in the media for a reason, so it’s certainly worth being watched by you as well. Here are some highlights on why you could possibly like this series.

Exciting thriller/survival storyline

If you’re interested in a well-done thriller and don’t get squeamish easily, this will be a great watch for you. Similarly, if you enjoy watching movies like Hunger Games, a survival game movie, or Battle Royale, you’ll love this!

Great character background stories

While the games may be more horrifying than entertaining, the characters are incredibly compelling, with heartbreaking stories. It’ll be easy to root for a few of them and thus get emotionally attached to the series. Not to mention, the series feels highly addicting – and will keep you at the edge of your seat until the end of the finale!

The main characters all get a fleshed-out back story that explains their drive to win and has us cheering them on. But the game runners – so, technically the villains – aren’t left without their own backstory, either.

Squid Game Casts

Photo credit: https://forbes.com

It’s not your usual plot

Before you watch the TV series, do know that it is quite dark in the subject matter. And, yes, also quite bloody. So as popular as the show may be, it is also not for everyone. It’s certainly a horror show due to its violence and the terrible choices it forces the players to make; it’s undeniable it’s also a deep and thought-provoking drama. Both of these qualities have been masterfully intertwined together. So, if you can give it a try, we highly recommend the series.

Understand the Squid Game memes

As the show became popular worldwide, lots of Squid Game-related memes also surfaced online. These memes or references to the show can be quite entertaining and you’ll most likely see them everywhere. So if you don’t want to miss out on the fun, you can start watching Squid Game too!

Learn more about Korea

Above all else, watching this series can also offer you some interesting perspectives of Korean society and life in Korea. Not only will you learn about the games that children play in Korea, but you’ll also know more about their culture. Plus, it’s always a great lesson in the Korean language!

How can you watch Squid Game?

All you need to watch “Squid Game” is a Netflix account! Alternatively, if you don’t have an account yourself, why not put together a Squid Game marathon with a friend who does have Netflix and might be interested in watching?

The show will be fun to watch alone, but perhaps it might be even more enjoyable if you watch and discuss it together with a friend. There is the option to watch Squid Game dubbed in English in certain locations, but for the best experience, we do suggest watching it in the original language, with subtitles turned on!

Is Squid Game getting a Season 2?

If you have finished watching Squid Game, you might be craving for a second season. There’s a lot of rumor going on about the Squid Game Season 2. The good news is, although there are no well-developed plans yet, it has been confirmed by director Hwang Dong-hyuk that there will be a second season!

Director Hwang has also previously mentioned in an interview that if he were working on the next season for Squid Game, he wouldn’t do it alone; instead, he wants to with multiple experienced directors and considers using a writers’ room for it.

Have you already watched Squid Game? What did you think of it? How many of these children’s games were you familiar with? Don’t forget to also read our article on Korean games if you’d like to know more about the types of games played in South Korea! Also, let us know in the comments similar games that are played in your own country!

    2 replies to "Squid Game – Everything you should know about this Korean Series"

    • Avatar for cat cat

      I really loved squid game and I can’t wait for a second season!^^

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