‘Squid Game’ — Here’s What the Director of the Netflix Hit Thinks Contributed to Its Global Success
South Korean survival drama Squid Game has taken the world by storm since its release on the streaming service on September 17, 2021. The series has only nine episodes on the first installment, yet the premise has become a fan favorite.
The plotline features a group of 456 bankrupted people who sign up to play ridiculously simple but lethal games, organized by a mysterious masked host, sponsored by crazy rich people, and facilitated by people dressed in a red ensemble.
The sole winner is promised over $40 million cash prize, and all the contestants are thrown into a battle of life and death over six games, including tug of war, candy challenge, and red light, green light.
Within the first day of its debut, Squid Game reached second place in its home market of South Korea and became number one a day later.
As for the U.S., it became the first-ever K-Drama to be rated as Netflix's top show on its fourth day of release. While the popularity of the series is only growing, its director, Hwang Dong-hyuk, is naturally pleased and surprised by the success.
Director Hwang Dong-hyuk On 'Squid Game's Success
Dong-hyuk spoke about the phenomenal success of Squid Game during a media interview on September 28, 2021.
Admitting he wasn't expecting the show to be a hit, the director shared he was thrilled his work caught the hearts of people worldwide.
Then he gushed about the plausible reason behind the show's global popularity, crediting the hype to its simplicity. The Seoul native implied people loved the show because everyone could relate to the characters and the simple storyline that satirizes a money-driven community.
The filmmaker also opined audiences were attracted to the irony that hopeless adults risk their lives to win games, which they once played for fun as children.
He elaborated that the simplicity of the games let the viewers focus on characters and story rather than just the complexity and rules of the games.
Dong-hyuk shared similar insights while in an interview with Variety as well. He shared how he always wanted to write a story that depicted the extreme competition of modern capitalist society with relatable settings.
He reiterated his survival game show on Netflix became a success because of its easily relatable characters and simplicity.
After gushing about the key to the series' success, the famed director cleared the air of accusations of borrowing too much from other survival shows as Hunger Games and Battle Royale.
He confessed he took inspiration from other series and comics but stated the content and narrative differed. He even disclosed he wrote the draft screenplay for Squid Game back in 2008.
However, the production studios and local investors turned down the project for its violence and sensationalism. That obviously changed when the director signed a deal with Netflix two years later.
But Dong-hyuk clarified making Squid Game wasn't a cakewalk. As per his accounts, it was more challenging because it was a series and not a film. And it took him six longs months to write and rewrite the first two episodes.
The 50-year-old also mentioned that he consulted with friends regularly to pick up clues for improvements.
Now, courtesy of his hard work and dedication of his cast members, including Wi Haâ€‘joon, Lee Jungâ€‘jae, Park Hae Soo, and HoYeon Jung, the series already has viewers waiting for season 2.