Why no one wanted to make 'Squid Game' for a decade

Publish Date
Friday, 8 October 2021, 7:25AM

Squid Game has only been in the public consciousness for three weeks, but it's been in the mind of its creator, Hwang Dong-hyuk, for 12 years.

The Korean dystopian drama has taken over the world, almost certain to become Netflix's most watched original series ever - but no one wanted to make the series for a decade.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Korean studios rejected the idea for 10 years, in large part due to its strong violence and fanciful execution – or, executions, as it were.

Hwang was living with his mother and grandmother when he conceived of the story, a scathing indictment on the growing disparity between the rich and the poor. At one point, he was so cash-strapped, he had to hock his laptop for US$675.

The series is focused on a large-scale competition in which 456 desperate and debt-ridden people play children's games to win a cash prize of roughly $55.4 million. The winner takes everything, and the losers are killed.

Squid Game could be seen as an extreme parable of neoliberalism and its dehumanising, competitive capitalist system where there are few winners and a lot of losers, and people are mere commodities to be exploited by the wealthy.

Squid Game's rich themes have already drawn comparisons to Bong Joon-ho's Oscar-winning film Parasite, a social satire centred on a poor family who connive their way into the service of a rich family.

In a separate interview with The Korea Times, Hwang revealed why after so long in limbo, 2021 was the right time for a series like Squid Game to resonate.

"After about 12 years, the world has changed into a place where such peculiar, violent survival stories are actually welcomed.

"People commented on how the series is relevant to real life. Sadly, the world has changed in that direction. The series' games that participants go crazy over align with people's desires to hit the jackpot with things like cryptocurrency, real estate and stocks.

"So many people have been able to empathise with the story."

For the tens of millions of viewers who have finished Squid Game's nine episodes, the question on their lips is there will there be a second season?

Hwang said that making the first season was an adventure but that the level of stress he was under was "100 per cent, which hit me hard".

He wouldn't confirm more episodes but hinted he wouldn't be able to say no if the opportunity presented itself.

"As I led the series alone, writing and directing, it was mentally and physically too much," he told The Korea Times.

"So, I'm concerned whether, if we were to do a season two, would I be able to do it all myself? I've been telling people how we can't make a second season right away.

"But since so many people love the series, it sort of feels like I can't say that I won't do it."

And if Squid Game is going to surpass Bridgerton as Netflix's number one original series in its history, if it hasn't already, then there's no way Netflix is going to let Hwang say no.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission

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