The True Story Behind Squid Game

Updated: Nov 13, 2021

Squid Game debuted on Netflix on September 17th, 2021. As a result, audiences have voiced bewilderment and shock. Squid Game isn’t just a story about kid’s games. The underlying tone is so much darker.

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The Creation of Squid Game

Squid Game is the brainchild of Hwang Dong-hyuk. The idea of the script came partially from his own life. Not playing the game depicted in the series, but the struggling to make ends meet. Furthermore, the series almost didn’t get made. In the beginning, studios disliked the premise of the script. The cruelty and brutality of the series turned people off. However, when COVID struck, the idea was revisited and approved.


What’s Squid Game About?

The idea behind the series is quite fantastical. You take a group of people, all with financial struggles. You place them in a setting to win an insane amount of money. Lastly, all they have to do is play and win six different twisted versions of classic children’s playground games. However, the odds are viciously stacked against them. You see, if you lose, you are “eliminated.” The players discover the elimination process after the first game, "Red Light / Green Light". A horrible death awaits anyone who fails at the devious challenges in store, but a few lucky victors could find themselves taking a share of a mammoth ₩45.6 billion (that’s almost £30 million).


As Squid Game has quickly become Netflix’s biggest series ever, some viewers have found themselves wondering if it could possibly have been inspired by a true story – a frightening thought indeed! In a recent interview, creator Hwang Dong-hyuk revealed that several elements were indeed drawn from real-life inspirations.


Is Squid Game Real?

Squid Game takes place in a dystopian society - but just how much of the show is inspired by real life? Could Squid Game be based on a real game? The answer is no. In fact, it should always be "no". The extreme violence of the elimination is enough to chill your bones unless you like that sort of thing. The only real thing about Squid Game is the name. It is, in fact, the name of a Korean child’s playground game. It takes an insane amount of endurance and skill. Creator Hwang Dong-hyuk enjoyed playing the game as a child. He loved it so much that he named the show after it.


Dong-hyuk drew his inspiration from Japanese manga and anime, with themes of survival resonating with the writer-director during a tough financial situation and inspiring an allegory about modern capitalist society and the competition it encourages.


“I freely admit that I’ve had great inspiration from Japanese comics and animation over the years,” Dong-hyuk said. “When I started, I was in financial straits myself and spent much time in cafes reading comics including ‘Battle Royale’ and ‘Liar Game’. I came to wonder how I would feel if I took part in the games myself. But I found the games too complex, and for my own work I focused instead on using kids’ games.”


Dong-hyuk then turned to traditional playground games, with the majority of the show’s challenges – including marbles, tug of war, hopscotch and Red Light, Green Light – are clear riffs on games popular all over the world.


However, Dong-hyuk revealed that the inspiration behind Squid Game’s title and climactic final challenge came from a childhood favorite game that was mostly limited to Korea.


“Squid Game is a game I used to play as a child in the schoolyard or the streets of the neighbourhood,” he said. “This is a story about people who used to play this game as children and return to play it as adults. It was one of the most physical games and it was my absolute favorite! I felt that this game could be the most symbolic children’s game that could represent the kind of society we live in today.”

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The Darker Side

The Squid Game show is not just about violence and the greed of money. It’s about what people turn into when their life sucks. Each person in the series comes from some level of financial ruin. The promise of an insane amount of money causes some to turn into murderers. However, some of them maintain their humanity. And some are nothing more than tricksters. The sad part is, you never know who is who until it’s too late.


Emotional Rollercoaster

Squid Game is not just a series. It is an experience. At some point, you are saddened for some of the characters. And later you want to punch them out. Even at the end, your emotions fluctuate as you wonder. What the heck did I just watch? But not in a bad way. Season 2 is already highly demanded. The cliffhanger at the end does leave room for more. The question there would be... ARE YOU READY FOR THE GAME?


Watch Squid Game on VideoPio now: Squid Game - Full Episodes

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