entertainment

'Squid Game': South Korea's latest cultural phenomenon

44 Comments
By Claire LEE

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No spoilers please, haven't finished watching it yet. Brilliant drama, visually stunning, almost unbearable tension during the games. Lots of nice design touches like the Escher staircase and shades of The Prisoner too.

5 ( +15 / -10 )

SK goes from strength to strength with their cultural exports. Best Picture at the Oscars, BTS, and now the biggest show ever on Netflix, Emmy Awards bound! Punching above their weight is a massive understatement.

-3 ( +18 / -21 )

Just started watching yesterday, after some Youtubers talked about it. In reality what reality binged me to it was the great resemblance of the main character with Fukuyama Masaharu

0 ( +2 / -2 )

And the music's really good as well.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

oh, and the constant allegories about what we have to put up with to earn the idolized pennie$ everyday,

the realities of the kind Pakistani migrant worker also resembles what happens in Japan.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Critics say that regardless of its Korean setting, the show's themes and its critique of the ills of capitalism are relevant everywhere -- doubly so with the coronavirus pandemic exacerbating global inequalities -- and are key to its ubiquitous appeal.

With this and Parasite South Korean directors have managed to capture the zeitgeist in portraying the horrors of late stage capitalism in an entertaining and intriguing way.

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

I find it really interesting too that Korean series and movies are so strong and moving, yet Japanese ones are so weak comparatively. Japanese anime is much more of a powerhouse.

If you compare the Japanese and Korean ministries associated with entertainment, you will see a big difference there. The Korean entertainment ministry has been mostly headed by arts-related people (writers, poets, etc.) and few career politicians. The Japanese heads have been all career politicians or businessmen as far as I can tell. So, you get a real sense about what who can understand what moves people's hearts. The Korean ministries of entertainment clearly support arts that might not paint Korea in the best light, but are moving and profitable. The Japanese ministry heads seem to be focused only on what can be profitable. So, it's very easy to market anime or Pokemon compared to more complicated stories like Nobody Knows or Battle Royale.

I hope in the future Japanese cinema will improve, but it seems unlikely.

-4 ( +16 / -20 )

A truly excellent series, especially from a psychological perspective. Binge watched it in 2 days and was left hungering for more. I love the sets on this show - the juxtaposition of these bright colors of the game rooms and halls with what's really going on - blood, torture and death - is quite jarring in a good way. It also proved quite educational - learning about what kind of schoolyard games Korean kids play.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Battle royale copy

5 ( +18 / -13 )

I find it really interesting too that Korean series and movies are so strong and moving, yet Japanese ones are so weak comparatively. 

didn’t take long for someone to dish Japan

0 ( +17 / -17 )

@Grant

no, it isn't a Battle Royale copy. it's similar but in battle royale but it's more a copy of Kaiji, Liar game and As the gods will.

The initial 4-5 episodes of squid games is almost entirely Kaiji, the episode 6 red light green light game is a Shot to Shot copy of Daruma game from As the gods will, the last episodes didn't matter anyway cause they were bad.

@NAM

Try watching Alice in Borderland (netflix original released last year).

7 ( +14 / -7 )

So, it's very easy to market anime or Pokemon compared to more complicated stories like Nobody Knows or Battle Royale.

I'm sorry but Anime is filled way more complicated stories way better than Nobody Knows and Battle Royale if you aren't aware.

4 ( +11 / -7 )

Everybody is talking about it, and I binged to grasp what the fuss is about.

Just one comment. The show is far closer to reality in S. Korea than you surmise. Massacres and fratricidal killings were widespread, especially just before and during the Korean war. Here I still can see traces of old villages deserted by massacres more than 70 years ago.

-1 ( +12 / -13 )

I did not see what all the commotion was about?! Its alright, target audience was probably under 20yo.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

@AlfieNoakes: Agree with you. I have the final episode to go. On your second comment, I’m lucky enough to have a pretty good HT system, the Atmos soundtrack is not only recorded very well, but adds so much to the tension.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Maybe I am missing something. Squid Game seems to offer nothing but gore. No plot. Much like many horror films where the focus is on the gratuitous violence rather than storytelling.

But maybe I am wrong. Is there a protagonist who overcomes the challenges of the antagonist, thus closing the series with wrongs righted and a redeemed society? A place where Squid Game no longer exists?

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Great series. Kingdom too also a great Korean show. I never liked reading subtitles. But the English dubbing in both these series is flawless. It looks almost natural. I think that's part of the global appeal. But yeah, I can't think of any Japanese drama that has ever caught my attention aside from anime.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

I think Squid game deserved all the hype it received. It wasn't a ground breaking concept by no mean as it has already been done by others like Battle Royale, Kaiji, etc.

But I think what really set it apart was the story telling. It hooked me in within the first few minutes and maintained that momentum throughout all its episode. It was consistent with its concept and themes. There were no stupid pointless fillers that so many animes have (e.g. Naruto shippuden omg). And it was realistic, relatable and touched on values that anyone in the world can understand.

I don't think everyone will enjoy it, but if you're into dark themes and emotional story telling, then 100% recommend this show. (Also please watch it with subs and not the dubs).

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Wonder if Anupam Tripathi really speaks Korean as well as depicted or did it require retakes before every shot.

Anyways I agree that it's better to watch with subs instead of the dubbed version.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

tooheysnewToday  09:29 am JST

I find it really interesting too that Korean series and movies are so strong and moving, yet Japanese ones are so weak comparatively. 

didn’t take long for someone to dish Japan

And what*s wrong with that? It's called criticism. Or are we supposed to praise everything just to be 'harmonious'. It's come to the point where you can't express anything negative about Japan without overly sensitive people getting offended because they don't want to face change, refuse to look in the mirror, and think you're bashing Japan.

-6 ( +8 / -14 )

And these are the Originals, All Japanese.

(2000) Battle Royale

(2007) Kaiji

(2014) As the Gods Will

(2020) Alice in Borderland

Without those, this wouldn't happen. Director of (2021) Squid Game claims he draft it in 2009, yeah, nice joke. The production should credit those Original Japanese but the Koreans don't and will never. Even their Old Boy was influenced by Japanese manga.

5 ( +15 / -10 )

@BackpackingNepal

It's not the Korean's fault that Japan's TV and film industry cannot market their products to a wider global audience. The golden age of Japanese cinema has long ended. Japan should just stick to making better anime.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

I haven't seen this TV series but "Parasite" was a masterpiece.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It's not a secret the director of the work officially stated, the motif(s) are based on Japanese Manga/movies as he’s been a big fan of those.

Kaiji.

Battle Royal

Liars Game

20 century boy

and more...

6 ( +11 / -5 )

BackpackingNepalToday  03:26 pm JST

And these are the Originals, All Japanese.

(2000) Battle Royale

(2007) Kaiji

(2014) As the Gods Will

(2020) Alice in Borderland

Without those, this wouldn't happen. Director of (2021) Squid Game claims he draft it in 2009, yeah, nice joke. The production should credit those Original Japanese but the Koreans don't and will never. Even their Old Boy was influenced by Japanese manga.

You know it too well.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Korean dramas excel with tenseness and hints of the ‘bigger picture’

Japanese films just don’t do it for me…

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

kurisupisuToday  06:50 pm JST

Korean dramas excel with tenseness and hints of the ‘bigger picture’

Japanese films just don’t do it for me…

Yes. It is SK’s national policy to push K-POP/Drama world wide to prove Korean presence.

I personally think SKorean remaking version is far better than Japanese original.

Koreans are so talented in entertainment business, but I personally think, nonetheless, SK needs more than 100 years to catch up the level of Japanese Manga.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Korean dramas excel with tenseness and hints of the ‘bigger picture’

Japanese films just don’t do it for me…

Japanese drama's need better actors and actresses. A lot of them just overdo their acting and that just kills the immersion, even if the story and production quality is great. At least in my opinion.

Japan's strength is its anime industry but anime is just so oversaturated. There are like 200 or more releases every year and the overwhelming majority of them are garbage. Quantity over quality. Not to mention the slave like work conditions that animators have to deal with. Even as the industry grows its is slowly destroying itself from within.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

If you compare the Japanese and Korean ministries associated with entertainment, you will see a big difference there. The Korean entertainment ministry has been mostly headed by arts-related people (writers, poets, etc.) and few career politicians. The Japanese heads have been all career politicians or businessmen as far as I can tell. So, you get a real sense about what who can understand what moves people's hearts. The Korean ministries of entertainment clearly support arts that might not paint Korea in the best light, but are moving and profitable. The Japanese ministry heads seem to be focused only on what can be profitable. So, it's very easy to market anime or Pokemon compared to more complicated stories like Nobody Knows or Battle Royale.

I hope in the future Japanese cinema will improve, but it seems unlikely.

Japanese entertainment industry (TV drama, Movie, Pop-music) is mostly controlled by Koreans/Korean-Japanese but Japanese animation is not

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

tooheysnew: NAM's comment is perfectly valid, and not at all dishing. He/she is simply stating fact. Contrast that with the Japanophiles freaking out and saying that everything Korea makes is based on Japanese ideas (and not at all lost on them that Japan copies most things to begin with... even Korean snacks!).

NAM: "I find it really interesting too that Korean series and movies are so strong and moving, yet Japanese ones are so weak comparatively."

Well, it makes sense if you think about it. What does anime lack? Actual actors (not talking about voice actors, especially since a lot of anime are dubbed anyway). Japanese movies and TV series recycle the flavor of the day. Kimtaku, as one example, played an airline pilot, a hockey player, and all sorts of other roles within a couple of years, simply because he was the sell-out at the time, and other nations can't and should not take that kind of lack of talent seriously. With anime, that is not a problem. There are so very few internationally recognized actors here that for most movies based on/in Japan done by non-Japanese the actors are Asian American, Korean, Chinese, etc., and rarely actually Japanese.

KennyG: "Koreans are so talented in entertainment business, but I personally think, nonetheless, SK needs more than 100 years to catch up the level of Japanese Manga."

Yeah... but I don't think SK is even trying in manga market, and rightly so -- they just can't catch up, and it would be a waste to try (I have seen some Korean manga and it is GARBAGE), but manga is a niche market. Movies, TV, music.... well... you see the result in terms of success.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Watched started watching one episode and had massive feelings of deja Vu....have I seen this before??? Oh , yeah...It has ripped off more movies and dramas than you can poke a stick at. Hey, let's not worry about that though...it's from that place that brought us k pop...another hugely derivative art form so that makes it ok. Pressed stop, turned on kid cosmic, way more original...but that's a kids show I hear some of you say...well, roald Dahl, Oscar Wilde or tony Williams wouldn't stoop as low in such vulgar plagiarism.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Why does this 'fluff' generate such interest?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Japanese drama's need better actors and actresses. A lot of them just overdo their acting and that just kills the immersion, even if the story and production quality is great. At least in my opinion.

Naah, nothing bad about actors here. Best Japanese actors are on part with best western and other asian actors. The problem. I attend a lot of film festivals so, i'm aware of both the good and bad sides of the industry. The Problem is Budget.

Japan's strength is its anime industry but anime is just so oversaturated. There are like 200 or more releases every year and the overwhelming majority of them are garbage. Quantity over quality. Not to mention the slave like work conditions that animators have to deal with. Even as the industry grows its is slowly destroying itself from within.

Most of it isn't Garbage. Few are garbage. most of them are mediocre(just for timepass like those cringy romance kdramas) but let's not forget that every year we get to see more than 30 Excellent anime an year. The anime fandom cares about those 30 and there are well maintained and run(fan made) online discuss forums on which help the fandom on what to watch and what not to. but yaa, there are way too many studios which run wild here and that's kinda bad from a long term perspective.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@BackpackingNepal Oct. 10  03:26 pm JST

And these are the Originals, All Japanese.

(2000) Battle Royale

(2007) Kaiji

(2014) As the Gods Will

(2020) Alice in Borderland

@kennyG

It's not a secret the director of the work officially stated, the motif(s) are based on Japanese Manga/movies as he’s been a big fan of those.

Kaiji.

Battle Royal

Liars Game

20 century boy

and more...

Have you ever watched any episode of Squid Game?

Those are all about games, but Squid Game is about humans.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

I’ve seen the show pop up in my Netflix feed over the last couple of weeks. I haven’t watched it and I don’t plan on it

Netflix smash hit "Squid Game" blends a tight plot, social allegory and uncompromising violence…

in the last 10 years I’ve been increasingly careful about the kind of entertainment I consume. Garbage in, garbage out

There’s something about feeling gratified and entertained from “uncompromising violence” (even though it is fictional) that disturbs me. I think that these kind of shows do far more damage to Society by sneakily desensitizing us to gore and violence making us little by little, less and less empathetic.

"The growing tendency to prioritise profit over the wellbeing of the individual" is a "phenomenon that we witness in capitalist societies all over the world," 

And then they try to blame a political/ideological system?

I will argue that entertainment like this, has a much larger role in creating or cultivating the problems in society they are complaining about.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

And these are the Originals, All Japanese.

(2000) Battle Royale

(2007) Kaiji

(2014) As the Gods Will

(2020) Alice in Borderland

Without those, this wouldn't happen. Director of (2021) Squid Game claims he draft it in 2009, yeah, nice joke. The production should credit those Original Japanese but the Koreans don't and will never. Even their Old Boy was influenced by Japanese manga.

The Japanese manga writer was given a direct writing credit in the film Old Boy.

If you want to go back in cultural history you can always find someone else who did it first.

Stephen King’s (under his pen name Richard Bachman) novel ‘The Long Walk’ was written in the late 60’s.

That was influenced by a 1924 short story ‘The Most Dangerous Game’ and so on and so on…

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@SJ

Have you ever watched any episode of Squid Game?

Those are all about games, but Squid Game is about humans lol,

LOL, You just told me that you haven't watched any of them.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I have just finished season 1 by Netflix. My honest impression is I don't understand how come this gets No1 streaming among 90 countries. There are much better Korean movies/dramas than this work, but, after all, it all depends on personal preference. Easy-listening/watching is important but nothing remains.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Why are people playing with Squid's? Are they alive or dead when played with?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

SJToday  04:56 am JST

@kennyG

It's not a secret the director of the work officially stated, the motif(s) are based on Japanese Manga/movies as he’s been a big fan of those.

Kaiji.

Battle Royal

Liars Game

20 century boy

and more...

Have you ever watched any episode of Squid Game?

Long time no see. Yes I did.  The very best for me is Oath of Changum

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This is a golden age for South Korean TV and movie productions. How long will it last?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@1glenn

It will last as long as the Korean film industry prioritises giving unhindered control and power to actual artists to execute their creative talent, instead of corporate bureaucrats. The Korean government recognises the benefits of the soft power factor of Hallyu, so they will continue to support Korean artists.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I watched Parasite today and it was great. I think what is happening is that Capitalism has run amok and it destroying the very societies it used to help. The Squid Game is just the same thing take to the extreme. I really feel like until the excesses of Capitalism are brought under control these type of shows will continue to propagate

0 ( +2 / -2 )

A rip off as usual, but that's to be expected.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

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