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Why the world is obsessed with Netflix’s Squid Game: Explaining its popularity

Squid Game is ruling the roost as far as Netflix viewership is concerned. Looking at its massive success, writer-director Hwang Dong-hyuk opens up about making a sequel.

squid gameSquid Game is streaming on Netflix. (Photo: Netflix)

South Korean drama Squid Game has captured the interest of audience globally. Within days of its release, the intense thriller has become one of the most watched shows of streaming giant Netflix. It has been trending at number one spot in several countries since its premiere, and memes based on the show have flooded the internet.

‘Our biggest show ever’: What Netflix said about Squid Game

The show was released on 17 September. Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos said last month, “It’s only been out for nine days, and it’s a very good chance it’s going to be our biggest show ever.” A word of praise also came in from Jeff Bezos who said, “@ReedHastings and Ted Sarandos and the team at @Netflix
get it right so often. Their internationalization strategy isn’t easy, and they’re making it work. Impressive and inspiring. (And I can’t wait to watch the show.)”

What Squid Game is all about

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For the uninitiated, Squid Game is a fictional survival series which requires people to participate in what looks like games children might play. Either they win at life in Squid Game, or they die trying. Director Hwang Dong-hyuk is happy with the unexpected success of the show. Speaking to Variety, he said, “I wanted to write a story that was an allegory or fable about modern capitalist society, something that depicts an extreme competition, somewhat like the extreme competition of life. But I wanted it to use the kind of characters we’ve all met in real life.”

What explains Squid Game’s popularity

The show was initially developed as a film, but was later converted into a series to suit its purpose better. People are addicted to the series and find it relatable despite being set in a country different than theirs. Kim Pyeong-gang, a global cultural content professor at Sangmyung University, thinks there is a solid reason behind the connection viewers have found with Squid Game. Talking to BBC, Kim said, “People, especially the younger generation, who regularly suffer from alienation and resentment in real life, seem to sympathise with the characters.”

The problem with the subtitles


But even as the show is getting popular, there is one strong issue a section of the audience has with Squid Game, its subtitles. Apparently, people have been complaining about the English subtitles in particular, saying that the interpretation is lousy and the entire meaning of the show changes due to the difference in translation.

Nevertheless, Squid Game is still ruling the roost as far as Netflix viewership is concerned. So looking at its massive success, has writer-director Hwang Dong-hyuk thought of making a sequel yet?

“I don’t have well developed plans for ‘Squid Game 2.’ It is quite tiring just thinking about it,” the filmmaker told Variety.


Squid Game is currently streaming on Netflix.

First published on: 05-10-2021 at 14:24 IST
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