The show is the latest manifestation of the ever-growing influence of South Korea's popular culture. Photo: Netflix/AFP
entertainment

'Squid Game' becomes Netflix's biggest-ever launch hit

22 Comments

Dystopian South Korean drama "Squid Game" has become Netflix's most popular series launch ever, drawing 111 million fans since its debut less than four weeks ago, the streaming service said.

The unprecedented global viral hit imagines a macabre world in which marginalized people are pitted against one another in traditional children's games.

While the victor can earn millions in cash, losing players are killed.

Spreading around the world by word of mouth, especially via social media, "Squid Game" has topped Netflix charts in more than 80 countries.

"Squid Game has officially reached 111 million fans -- making it our biggest series launch ever!" tweeted Netflix.

By comparison, Regency romp "Bridgerton" reached 82 million households on debut, using Netflix's internal metric which includes any account that watched an episode for at least two minutes.

The success of "Squid Game" amplifies South Korea's increasingly outsized influence on global popular culture, following the likes of K-pop band BTS and Oscar-winning movie "Parasite."

It is also the latest success for Netflix's bid to produce more international and non-English language content. The streamer's third most-watched series debut for instance is French-language "Lupin."

Netflix offers "Squid Game" in both dubbed and subtitled versions in multiple languages, expanding its potential audience.

In February, the world's most popular streaming platform announced plans to spend $500 million this year alone on series and films produced in South Korea.

© 2021 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

22 Comments
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Squid Games - rip off of many Original Japanese films

BTS - Singer/Songwriters/Rappers/Dancers but they don't play the real music, the instruments.

Parasite - Great but there are better Korean films.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

and just like that I refuse to ever watch it

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

^ Haters gonna hate

2 ( +7 / -5 )

You don't have to "hate" the film to notice, but as BackpackingNepal says, it's a rip off of many original Japanese films. It gets 0 points for originality.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

@kuriki

 Haters gonna hate

As Tom San say, this is a strange comment. Sure, I might watch this, apparently the production is very well done and millions of people say it's great, so it wouldn't want to just dismiss it.

But at the same time it seems to be fact that some of the scenes are stolen/borrowed. For example, there is a scene where kids are playing red light green light / statues / daruma-san ga koronda, whatever you want to call it, and the losers die. Apparently this exact same idea is in the film 『神さまの言うとおり』(As the Gods Will ). I mean, that is pretty specific. I wonder if Netflix got permission to use this idea?

If you @kuruki, were the original writer of that scene, would you not want to be rewarded for your work? If something as specific as "playing red light green light, losers get killed off" is not protectable as an artistic idea, then what is? It's hardly a regular idea that anyone could just come up with.

So as Tom-san says, noticing similarities is not "hating". Words have meanings. You can't just label anyone's speech "hating" and try to shut it down. That is not how discussions work.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

How does the people who run the fictional Squid Games get the money that they pay to the ultimate winner? Is it a PPV TV show or what?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It's not the fault of Korea if they are better in marketing themselves compared to Edo-jidai Japan when it comes to pop culture. Japan, unfortunately, is still stuck with the fax machine era when it comes to this!

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

So according to Netflix anything that’s watched for two minutes is counted as “watched”? Even if it gets the boot after two minutes and thirty seconds?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Some Japanese say the show, Squid game, is a rip-off of many Original Japanese films, which are also copies of others and so on. The big difference is that those death-game films focus on games, but Squid Games explores human nature. It bluntly exposes every dirty side of contemporary Korean society to the world.

A Japanese critic summarized it well as follows: https://realsound.jp/movie/2021/10/post-878490_2.html

目指すものは、あくまで社会の歪んだ姿を明らかにすることであり、そこで生きる人間の存在を描くことだ。

Under the current regime, Japan never can produce global megahit films like Squid Game. Korean filmmakers do not hesitate to expose any ugly aspect of Korean society, but the Japanese can not. For example, no Japanese politician welcomed the 2018  Palme d'Or-awarded film during Cannes, Shoplifters (万引き家族) by Hirokazu Kore-eda, because they do not like showing the darker side of their society. They fear facing the truth.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Under the current regime, Japan never can produce global megahit films like Squid Game. Korean filmmakers do not hesitate to expose any ugly aspect of Korean society, but the Japanese can not. For example, no Japanese politician welcomed the 2018 Palme d'Or-awarded film during Cannes, Shoplifters (万引き家族) by Hirokazu Kore-eda, because they do not like showing the darker side of their society. They fear facing the truth.

May I suggest leaving out the politics? Also, this is not the place to air your "grudges" towards the Japanese.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Some Japanese say the show, Squid game, is a rip-off of many Original Japanese films, which are also copies of others and so on. The big difference is that those death-game films focus on games, but Squid Games explores human nature.

That's not a difference, that's generally the core meaning behind all these movies. Battle Royale and Alice in Borderland, both Japanese and ahead of Squid Games, explored human nature.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

rip off of many Original Japanese films

Most absurd thing I've ever heard. Even that boy group claimed that BTS copied them. If Korea is better at something, it's a rip off. If Japan is good at something, it's the original. Too much sour grapes. Maybe Japan should stick with geishas. Then you'd be guaranteed no rip off by any other countries.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

A massively over-hyped TV show. It is mediocre at best, largely due to the sheer number of deathmatch type shows and movies that came before it, leaving zero originality. The Netflix promotion comes off the back of a massive over-hype of BTS. To the point where they are doing their dainty little dance routines in the UN building at getting ignored. It's all cringe on an unprecedented level.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Tom DoleyToday  01:21 pm JST

If Korea is better at something, it's a rip off.

No one said Korea was better at anything, it's just that they copy everything (mainly from Japan). Nobody said they were bad either (implied by calling it a rip-off, or cheap shoddy rehash), just so you know.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Under the current regime, Japan never can produce global megahit films like Squid Game. Korean filmmakers do not hesitate to expose any ugly aspect of Korean society, but the Japanese can not. For example, no Japanese politician welcomed the 2018 Palme d'Or-awarded film during Cannes, Shoplifters (万引き家族) by Hirokazu Kore-eda, because they do not like showing the darker side of their society. They fear facing the truth.

Not quite. Kore-eda was invited by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to "celebrate" his win but declined, saying "that turning down the invitation is "the right thing." In the posting dated June 7 (2018), he also revealed that he had turned down similar requests from local authorities. "Reflecting on the past where the film industry became united with 'national interest' and 'national policy,' I tend to think that keeping a clear distance from government authority is the right thing to do."

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180608/p2a/00m/0et/019000c

Shinzo Abe famously wasn't too impressed with the film's social criticism or Kore-eda's refusal to hobnob with the bureaucrats at MEXT.

Hwang Dong-hyuk, the director of Squid Game, has discussed being inspired by Kaiji, a 1990s Japanese comic and tv anime. Kaiji has a similar story in that a loser struggling in the financial meltdown of the late 90s gambles for his life. This Kaiji has also been made into 3 movies in Japan and one in China, bizarrely co-starring Michael Douglas. It's clearly a well-known story all across Asia. Squid Game is a variant, just as Jason Bourne is a modernisation of James Bond. I don't remember anyone throwing their toys out of the pram complaining that Bourne was a rip-off of Bond.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Under the current regime, Japan never can produce global megahit films like Squid Game. Korean filmmakers do not hesitate to expose any ugly aspect of Korean society, but the Japanese can not. For example, no Japanese politician welcomed the 2018 Palme d'Or-awarded film during Cannes, Shoplifters (万引き家族) by Hirokazu Kore-eda

You say that Japan can never produce a global hit that exposes the ugly side of society in one sentence, and then cite a global Japanese hit that exposes he ugly side of society in the next sentence. Which is it?

I will concede that Japan seems to suck at marketing internationally these days, but that's another issue.

I didn't expect to enjoy Squid Game. It was good, but the Americans playing the VIPs were hideously bad actors with laughably stilted dialogue. I hope they hire proper Western actors if they use them in Season 2.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

We won't be playing with the squid.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japan is like China in regarding cinema as a national propaganda tool. S. Korea was once the same under the military regimes before 1988. This is the same for freedom of the press.

Governmental interventions always curb the creativity of movie makers. Now the Korean government supports developing the infrastructure of the art and entertainment industry, but never intervenes in the contents. An exception was the black list of artists compiled by the former, mindless president Park who was later impeached.

It is not surprising that Hirokazu Kore-eda went to Korea where he was welcomed.

https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/art/2021/07/689_295078.html

The governmental "Cool Japan" strategy will eventually undermine the image of the country. Being honest is always a virtue in movie-making.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was immersive and entertaining. Then again, I'm not bound by some of the high artitstic standards that oher people here impose on the things that they watch. I couldn't care less if it was vaguely similar to some obscure film from decades ago. The current popularity of Korean media does seem to irritate Japanese people immensely.

It was good, but the Americans playing the VIPs were hideously bad actors with laughably stilted dialogue.

I thought the same, it was the weakest point of the series.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Careful with possible “*SPOILERS!” **please. - MANY are still* watching the ‘current” season. - Thanks. -

*- @commanteer 3:27pm: “**I hope they hire proper Western actors if they use them in Season 2…” *

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It was good, but the Americans playing the VIPs were hideously bad actors with laughably stilted dialogue.

It has been the same for the Asians appearing in Hollywood movies.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It's not the fault of Korea if they are better in marketing themselves compared to Edo-jidai Japan when it comes to pop culture.

By marketing, you mean spamming unrelated trends and comments on Twitter with fanvids and looping music videos on YouTube while you sleep to increase views?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

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