What is the squid game?
You must have all heard about the disturbing but intriguing Korean series about a murderous tournament of children’s games, which could soon top Bridgerton to become Netflix’s biggest show ever. The tournament itself does wind its way to a bloody resolution. But that doesn’t mean all our Squid Game questions got answered.
Here are answers to some burning questions viewers may have about the dystopian show. Warning: The following story includes huge spoilers for Squid Game, so if you haven’t watched all the episodes, come back and read this after you’re done. You don’t want to be spoiled for some of the plot twists.
It certainly seems like Squid Game would make a great novel or graphic novel. But right now, you can’t go to your bookstore and scoop up a Squid Gamebook to read. According to Korean pop-culture site Soompi, Squid Game director Hwang Dong-Hyuk said that he got the idea for the show back in 2008 from a comic book about people who were playing an extreme game. But he didn’t name the comic. And it might not even be a single comic, because the director told the Korea Herald that he “read a lot of comics, and was mesmerized by survival games.”
So until Hwang comes out and names some of his reading material, guesses are all we have. It seems likely that Squid Game will now be turned into book form since it’s such a hit. Keep an eye on those bookstore shelves. Some are claiming that Squid Game is suspiciously similar to a 2014 Japanese film, As The Gods Will, directed by Takashi Miike.
That film itself is based on Japanese manga. It’s also about a death tournament using childhood games and seems to have some very similar scenes, including a doll that spins around and tries to catch players moving. Squid Game’s director said at a press conference that only the first game in the film is similar to his show and that he had been working on his concept for years before As The Gods Will came out in 2014.
Is Squid Game a real game?
Obviously, there’s no deadly Squid Game tournament, where people are killed playing innocent children’s games. We hope. But the title refers to one specific game that gets its name from a court shaped vaguely like a squid. Main character Seong Gi-hun makes it sound as if Squid Game is unique to his town, describing a game that’s kind of like Red Rover and kind of like Capture the Flag and is played in a playground court shaped like a squid.
In order to win, the attacking team, who are only allowed to hop until they pass the squid’s waist, must tap the squid’s head with their foot. Director Hwang told the Korea Herald that it was his favorite childhood game, so yes, it does seem to be real. Other games played are fairly obviously real, including marbles, tug-of-war, and Red Light Green Light. There’s one game that’s obviously not real — one in which players must cross a glass bridge and don’t know which panel will shatter underfoot — though games like hopscotch do require you to place your feet only in certain squares.squid-game-sugarIn one game, contestants need to carve out a candy shape without breaking it.
Netflix/Youngkyu ParkOne game gives each player a tin of candy with a shape embossed into it, and they must use a sharp object to cut out the shape without breaking it. That’s easy if you have a triangle shape, not so easy if you picked the umbrella. Contestants eventually learn that licking the back of the candy helps release the shape. That candy is real–here’s a YouTube video from PinoyChefKorea that shows you how to make it. (Recipe instructions are shown in English captions.)
Did you get into making Dalgona coffee during the pandemic?
This candy is Dalgona candy. The candy is popular with Korean children, the chef notes. And yes, eaters in Korea try to eat around the embossed shape without breaking it, though the stakes for them aren’t life and death.
Is the Red Light, Green Light doll real?
The first game the contestant play is Red Light, Green Light, but instead of a human turning around and trying to catch someone moving during “Red Light,” it’s a super-creepy giant schoolgirl robot doll thing.
The doll in the Red Light, Green Light game is real, and tourists can visit it. Netflix/Youngkyu ParkOnline publication Koreaboo reports that the doll wasn’t made for Squid Game, but that it already was on display at the Jincheon Carriage Museum Adventure Village, also known as Macha Land, a museum in Chungcheongbok-do, South Korea, several hours from Seoul.
Koreaboo says the doll has now been returned to the museum, but somehow is missing one hand. Hey, those games were rough on everyone. Den of Geek pointed us to tweets from residents of the Philippines noting that a version of the doll was part of a Netflix display in a mall there, and its head actually spun around.
That Squid Game business card :
Squid Game recruiters handed out light-brown business cards with the game’s symbol — a circle, triangle, and a square — on one side, and a phone number on the other. (Enterprising online artists are selling them if your Halloween costume needs a prop, or make them yourself.)Writer Jasmine Leung explains for The Focus that the shapes are actually Korean letters.
“The circle is the letter ‘o’, the triangle is part of the letter ‘j’, and the square is ‘m’,” she writes. “So side by side, it reads ‘O J M’, which are the initials (of) squid game in Korean, which is read as Ojingeo Geim (오징어게임).”That side of the card is fine, but the other side, with a phone number shown, caused some problems. Mashable Southeast Asia reports that a person with that number has complained of receiving “endless” calls and text messages. (C’mon Netflix, you should’ve bought a specific number and set up some promo message for those who called it.)
Theory about Squid Game guards:
The guards in Squid Game wear red, and when one’s exposed, he seems like a young naive soldier. One online theory tries to explain how the guards were hired. Lead character Seong Gi-hun plays a game called ddakji with a recruiter for the game. (Ddakji is a traditional Korean game of flipping paper tiles–kind of like POGs.) Gi-hun picks blue paper over red. It seems random, but one theory claims it’s not.”So there’s a theory in Squid Game where Gi-Hun picked the blue card from the salesman (Gong Yoo) and then woke up in a blue suit as a player,” one tweet notes. “Had he or the other players picked the red card, they would be the workers/guards.”There’s no evidence that this is true, but hey, good fodder for a possible sequel.
The Squid Game ending explained:
Super-spoiler time, because we’re going to talk about the series ending. Seong Gi-hun wins, and he learns who’s really running the game (you may have figured it out since we don’t see this character die in the game, but it’s such a juicy plot twist that I won’t reveal it here). After dealing with the game mastermind, Gi-hun dyes his hair bright red (like the guards’ outfits, though that’s probably not connected). Then he starts to get on a plane for LA to reunite with his young daughter. But he spots the game recruiter who involved him in the game trying to convince another down-on-his-luck man to play. Gi-hun grabs the card, and just before he gets on the plane, calls the number and tells the person who answers he’s going to track them down.
Even if the director doesn’t seem in a hurry, the setup is perfect. The Front Man’s identity is eventually revealed, and it’s a family affair.Netflix/Youngkyu ParkAnd let’s talk about the brothers. Police officer Hwang Jun-ho (Wi Ha-joon) infiltrates the game, hunting for his missing brother In-ho. Jun-ho escapes the game compound but is seemingly killed by The Front Man, who’s kind of the manager of the game. And The Front Man is revealed to be … Jun-ho’s missing brother, who we already learned won the game in 2015. The brothers could return in a sequel, too. Jun-ho was shot in the shoulder (before falling off a cliff into the water). So he might not be dead, though he doesn’t seem to have ratted out the game masterminds to his fellow cops, since the game is continuing. It wouldn’t be the only death fake-out in this show. Movies coming in 2021 and 2022 from Netflix, Marvel, HBO, and more.