The Korean Drama ‘Squid Game’ smashed the Netflix records to become a global phenomenon overnight, despite the language barrier for most of its viewers.
The Netflix Inc. survival drama shot to the top of the charts in all 83 countries where the platform provides its streaming service, shortly after its first release on Sept. 17.
Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix, has even confirmed that the show is slated to be the most popular show in Netflix’s history in any language.
What is 'Squid Game' all about
This 9 part dystopian television series describes the fate of 456 financially struggling contestants, who are invited to an unknown location to play a series of children's games, such as “Red Light, Green Light,” “Tug of War,” marbles, and more. for a chance to win a large cash prize.
The players are given a uniform green tracksuit with their number and are kept under continuous surveillance by black-masked guards in pink jumpsuits. The games are overseen by a mysterious man wearing a black mask and black uniform, the Front Man. The players soon discover that losing the game results in their death, with each death adding ₩100 million to the potential ₩45.6 billion grand prizes.
During the game, the players are provided with a stay in dormitories where they are kept on an inadequate diet. The nights in the dormitories — where relationships form and fray — provide the quieter drama, often more shocking than the games hall itself.
Many can relate to the characters’ sense of helplessness
Since its premiere, “Squid Game” has catalyzed an international embrace of Korean culture, fueled mainly by a widespread curiosity about the children’s games that drive the plot.
Despite its fantastical aspects, the survival drama has managed to maintain a cross-cultural appeal because of the many themes within it, such as the recent widening of wealth disparities and the debt crisis that eerily reflect the current global climate.
The true backdrop to the dystopian Squid Game is inequality, a theme it shares with Oscar-winning 2019 South Korean drama, 'Parasite'
Following the first challenge, the surviving players are given a choice of continuing with the competition. After spending the next several days back home, a majority of the group chooses to risk death and return.
These events transpire in the second episode which, despite being mainly set in the outside world rather than the game arena, is aptly titled “Hell.”
The Dalgona Candy
The drama has also won fans across the Globe for a South Korean honeycomb candy that features in the series, the Dalgona Candy.
The candy, which is made from sugar and baking soda, has been sold by street vendors in South Korea for decades and was especially popular in the 1970s and 1980s when the South was still assailed by post-war poverty while desserts -- such as ice cream or chocolates -- were not widely available and prohibitively expensive.
The series remains intriguing to the audience by depicting childhood games that can turn deadly, like cutting out shapes from the Dalgona- if it cracks, a death sentence follows.
This game was inspired by a trend back in the 70s in South Korea, in which the children who succeeded in doing that received another free treat.
Lim Chang Joo, one of the sellers who made the Dalgonas on the sets, now back in real life, can hardly up with the ever-increasing demand in his store.
"I never imagined it would become this popular," Lim told AFP of the series, adding that his life has now become "super hectic".
"Of course, I'm happy because my business is doing well and how dalgona has become famous in other countries. I hope they make and eat their dalgonas," he added.