Netflix’s “Squid Game”: A Global Phenomenon
Netflix’s “Squid Game”: A Global Phenomenon
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  • 승인 2021.12.20 13:21
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KT Editor

Netflix's original series, “Squid Game,” continues to gain huge popularity all over the world. It tells the story of people who no longer have a place to hide in the world due to their debts; risking their lives to become the winners of the survival games with 45.6 billion won in prize money. “Squid Game” topped daily charts on Netflix in all 83 countries where Netflix streams, including the U.S. and India, attracting 82 million viewers worldwide since its release on September 17, 2021. According to Felix Patrol, a global Over The Top (OTT) content ranking site, “Squid Game” is ranked second, the highest for all Korean dramas. Why is this TV show so popular? Let's find out some secrets of its popularity. Kyungnam Times ● 21 The Universal Declaration of Human Rights The genre of “Squid Game” is a death (survival) game; meaning it dramatizes games that risk people’s lives to win prize money or any type of reward. Nevertheless, “Squid Game” was criticized in Korea for focusing more on personal stories and the mental state of the characters rather than the progression of the games itself. However, other countries take this as a positive factor. With the combination of the character's story and mentality in the violent and brutal ways, “Squid Game” seemingly serves as an unforgettable experience to overseas viewers who now have more of an appreciation for the death game genre. Production Staff and Set Another factor which attracts a huge number of viewers is that “Squid Game” was directed by talented production staff to attempt popularization. According to Director Hwang Dong-hyuk, who has only produced movies, he had been planning this type of TV series for about 10 years. He tried to produce this work by adding cruelty and capitalism to innocence of childhood. Plus, the soundtrack was composed by Jung Jae-il, who composed soundtrack of the Korean film “Parasite.” He composed ‘Way Back Then.’ a symbolic music of “Squid Game,” with a simple and rough recorder sound. While watching “Squid Game,” viewers can appreciate the realistic environment of the drama. Computer graphics were minimized and sets were built in real size so that not only actors but also viewers could immerse themselves in the surrounding environment. Other examples include fairytale-like and vivid color background such as yellow and pink; a huge robot modeled after ‘Young-hee’ appearing in Korean language textbooks in the 1980s; and participants’ beds that look like large supermarket stands. 22 Now&Here Curiosity of Korean Pop Culture and Customs Recently, Korean dramas have been amassing great curiosity in the global mainstream. New dramas such as the zombie thriller “Kingdom,” teen drama “Extracurricular,” and monster film “Sweet Home” were released as Netflix Original Series, and have made the world start paying attention to Korea and its place in pop culture. In other words, the trust of Korean media to international viewers, including four Academy Awards in the movie “Parasite” and BTS' peaking top spot, has now proven to be working from the beginning. The success and worldwide popularity of “Squid Game” also reflect such a great interest in Korean pop culture. The sentiment in “Squid Game” is centered on Korean culture. All the games that are played in the series consist of Korean traditional games for children such as Red Light, Green Light, tug-of-war, marbles, slap-match, and dalgona games; including a squid game, where offense and defense use a squid-shaped board drawn in the dirt. Plus, the background story of “Squid Game” is full of Korean customs, including affection between neighbors who grew up together in the same village, fraternal love between North Korean refugee siblings, and an aged mother living with her old son. Criticism of Meritocracy Another reason for the success of “Squid Game” is how social constructs are portrayed; meaning criticism of meritocracy. On the main stage where the characters gather, all 456 participants wear the same clothes, eat the same food, and compete with the same rules. At first glance, it can be said this is a world of equality and fairness. However, will the result be like that? The organizers of the game strongly argue that participants can win prize money only with their own abilities. Though, viewers cannot hide their bitterness after watching the drama until the end. The competitive structure and the tragedy of a capitalist society depicted in “Squid Game” exist Kyungnam Times ● 23 in most societies around the world, not in a specific situation or in a specific country. Therefore, “Squid Game" could be a drama that more people could sympathize with and immerse themselves in. Steady Success and the Future Besides the ranking, the popularity of “Squid Game” is increasing steadily along with that of online games based on the show, dalgona game challenge contents, and “Squid Game” merchandise. Even President Moon Jae In mentioned the popularity of “Squid Game” at the Ceremony of Presentation of Credentials and expressed his appreciation for sharing Korean culture with the world. Now that season one has ended, fans around the world are looking forward to season two. Let us look forward to the future of the show and celebrate the huge ssuccess of “Squid Game.”

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