The rise in the popularity of K-Pop outside of South Korea has been happening for sometime now where most people have heard of famous bands like BTS & BLACKPINK. The same could be said of the South Korean cinema, where movies such as Parasite and Train to Busan have shined a light on foreign cinema in a way that was previously not heard off. Recently a South Korean Web series has taken off in a major way and thanks to Netflix for its every growing foreign library. One such huge success story has been Squid Game. You can watch the trailer below 👇.
Those symbols look mighty familiar, Gganbu!
Being a console gamer for most of my life, never before has the feeling of seeing 3 PlayStation symbols being so unsettling for me after watching this show.
The Circle, Triangle & Square symbols were originally synonymous as PlayStation controller face buttons but they are now synonymous the world over thanks to the new TV series on Netflix called “Squid Game”.
So, What’s the hullabaloo about?
Well, it is officially classified as a South Korean thriller TV series on Netflix. But I would say it’s more of a character drama with elements of suspense thrown into the mix.
The show released on Sep 17th, 2021 and since then it has risen to the number one spot in many countries and created a sort of fever madness leading to people dressing up like the characters, playing familiar games from the show at their local subway stations, even creating a video game based on the T.V show just to give a few examples 👇.
To say that this Korean TV series on Netflix has gained immense popularity over the past month and has taken the world by storm, would be an understatement at this point.
Summary of South Korean TV series on Netflix – Squid Game
The show’s premise is quite simple, the creators of the contest are on the look out for people who are down on their luck or maybe in a troublesome financial situation where they will be more susceptible in agreeing to enlist in their contest unbeknownst to the consequences of their decision.
All the invited players must then survive a series of childhood games against each other, where in the end the last person standing walks away with a significant cash prize i.e. 45.6 billion won (roughly converts to 38.5 million USD). Most definitely not a small amount of money to be sneezed at but on the contrary most of us would agree it is a life altering one.
As previously mentioned the people participating don’t know that the losers in each game are not just out of the race when they get “eliminated” it is just as the word sounds.
It is not a completely unheard of plot as Netflix previously had released a similar TV series called Alice in Borderland set in Japan. Although the setting were slightly different as Alice in Borderlands we’re going for a more of Sci-Fi theme meets a more violent type of games. But what sets the “Squid Game” apart is it’s believable characters, top notch atmosphere building and its outstanding performances from the actors apart from it’s “more” believable setting.
Over the series of 9 episodes, what you get is a roller coaster ride of various character emotions. You get to see a deeply flawed side of us as humans and the state of the world we currently live in. It touches on various social economic topics and the state of the society as a whole. How far the characters are willing to discard their own humanity in order to survive. It’s rare to see such a raw side of human emotions put up on display that the audience can connect to.
Verdict – Squid Game
Squid Game on Netflix being only 9 episodes and each being around a hour long, makes it possible to binge the entire show in one setting. Should you do that though? Well, honestly it depends on how well you are able to handle the subject matter and its underlying themes.
That being said it’s not like the story is not interesting enough that you don’t want to see what happens next. But it’s more of the human toll that you take once you have invested in these characters and that full credit goes to the top notch acting by the cast. Each one gives such a honest and believable performance that you can feel their happiness or suffering.
The first 6 episodes are the highlight and where the shows stamps it’s mark. These episodes are brilliant for their character and world building. It really makes you want to get invested in the main group of characters and want to take notice of how far a person is willing to go to break his economic situation or how much of their humanity they are willing to sacrifice for the ultimate pay day.
Squid Game isn’t without its faults. The pacing of the show towards the last 3 episodes feels a bit rushed and some parts feel dragged just for cinematic purposes. I am sure the show’s writers would definitely disagree. But without spoiling anything the final episode didn’t provide the sense of closure that I was looking for.
Despite the shortcomings towards the end, the squid game is one of those shows that is must watch, my wife and I did watch the entire thing with the English dub, as she is not to comfortable seeing the subtitles constantly below. I went back and watched some episodes in Korean with the English subtitles and that is the way it should be watched in my opinion.
Sure, the sound of the language takes a while to get used to but the impact of the dialogues and emotions hit way harder in the actors native tongue than the dubbed version. I would say if the trailer didn’t get you excited or if it gave you a sense of a fast paced action thriller then either way a word of caution. The show likes to take its time in building those characters and those moments where you feel the sense of desperation and anguish with what’s happening on screen.
Even though it stumbles in the last few episodes, Squid Game gets more things right than wrong and it’s worth the time invested.