Squid Game Skyrockets on Screen


Squid Game takes Netflix by storm as the platform’s new No. 1 show.

Since its initial streaming on September 17, Squid Game has been all the talk. With a plot developed by South Korean director Hwang Dong-Hyuk, the survival drama is about a group of indebted people playing childhood games. Though the games appear normal, there is a major prize on the line: the winner will take home a large sum of money, but those who fail will die. This game format hones in on the downfall of its participants, who are willing to risk everything for money, even their lives.

Not only has Squid Game been a great success on Netflix, but it has also taken over social media. The show has earned the top spot in more than 90 countries and has also been subtitled in 31 languages and dubbed into 13 languages.

In early 2021, Netflix invested 500 million dollars in South Korea to produce new content for their platform. Netflix’s Co-CEO Ted Sarandos says, “Over the last two years, we’ve seen the world falling in love with incredible Korean content, made in Korea and watched by the world on Netflix.” Although Korean dramas have been increasingly successful in recent years, no one expected Netflix’s newest show to be such a big hit. Since its debut, Squid Game has amassed a net worth of 900 million dollars, proving that the company’s investment in the Asian film industry was an appropriate decision.

Furthermore, the relatively low budget of Squid Game surprised many. The show cost only 21 million dollars to produce; in contrast, another recent Netflix original series, Outer Banks, cost 50 million dollars. The latter’s high cost was due to its filming location. Despite its low budget, Dong-Hyuk’s series experienced similar levels of success to its peer. 

Due to the different production regulations in Asia, many American entertainment companies have rushed to film there in recent years. South Korea, for example, lacks the protections for workers that American locations provide. This has allowed Netflix to cut corners, leading to cheaper production costs. Since the South Korean government wanted to boost the economy, they introduced legislation that would attract filmmakers from all over the world. An industry expert told the Consumer News and Business Channel that if Squid Game was produced in the United States with an American cast and production team, it would cost five to ten times more than the South Korean production. Different factors, including its location, have helped the series make as much money as possible.

Squid Game has also had an influence outside of the world of television — some games on the show  have been replicated on TikTok, contributing to the series’ popularity among American teens. These games are appealing because they put a modern twist on familiar childhood games. One example of this is the “Red Light, Green Light” challenge, which plays on the stop-and-go game that is a staple of American physical education classes.

Although all of these games may seem fun to those outside the loop, in the show, the consequence for making a mistake is death. Violet Collier (IV) was among the viewers exposed to the show through social media. She explains, “I heard about this show on TikTok, and the suspense has kept me watching it ever since.”

Squid Game keeps its audience wondering if their favorite character will survive. Helena Huynh (II) says, “I could hardly anticipate what would happen next and found myself never wanting to pause during an episode.”

Along with the suspense, Squid Game’s characters make the show even more interesting.  Ada Wu (II) describes that the heartwarming characters add to her enjoyment of the show. She explains, “001 and all his moments. He is so precious and wise. He is resilient all throughout and also selfless […]. The bond between him and 456 brought about so many emotions.”

Squid Game’s popularity has influenced other entertainment corporations to invest in the Asian market as well. Disney, for instance, has made plans to produce 27 Asia-based films in the coming years. As the film industry continues to evolve, Squid Game will serve as the stepping stone for more Asian entertainment to come.