“Squid Game” is more than just a runaway hit for Netflix, it’s also the internet’s favorite show.
Released Sept. 17, the nine-episode Korean thriller is poised to become Netflix’s biggest “non-English-language show in the world,” said Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandon.
Julia Alexander, a senior strategy analyst at Parrot Analytics, said it’s clear that “Squid Game” has been a massive success, adding that she would use one word to describe how big a win it has been for Netflix.
“‘Unprecedented,'” Alexander said. “I’m assuming that the executives knew because of the talent they used, because of the region they released it in, that this was going to be a hit in South Korea. I would put good money that the executives had no idea this was going to be a global hit.”
The show follows Seong Gi-Hun, played by Lee Jung-Jae, as he and hundreds of other desperate and deeply indebted contestants compete in the violent and often grotesque competition for about $38 million. Only one person can win the prize, and those who lose the series of children’s games pay with their lives.
- “Squid Game” has become such a worldwide phenomenon is its accessibility. The show is filmed in Korean, but Netflix offers subtitles in 37 languages and dubs in 34 languages, allowing those who would rather not read subtitles to enjoy it, too
- “Squid Game” is a wholly unique property not based on any existing idea or concept, which could have hamstrung its popularity as both a new and a foreign property with no fan base.
- Even the way the show is subtitled and dubbed has opened conversations online, where some say the translations miss crucial context.
- Culturally, the show has sparked an online embrace of its distinct visuals, especially the black masks decorated with simple squares and triangles worn by the anonymous guards, and a global curiosity for the Korean children’s games that underpin the deadly competitions.
Squid Game” is only the latest South Korean cultural export to win a global audience by tapping into the country’s deep feelings of inequality and ebbing opportunities.
“Parasite,” the 2019 film that won the best picture at the Oscars, paired a desperate family of grifters with the oblivious members of a rich Seoul household.
“Burning,” a 2018 art-house hit, built tension by pitting a young deliveryman against a well-to-do rival for a woman’s attention.
The dystopian Netflix hit taps South Korea’s worries about costly housing and scarce jobs, concerns familiar to its U.S. and international viewers.
Others have made a meme out of the giant robotic girl from an episode in which the contestants play a deadly game of “red light, green light.”
Audio of the girl singing “mugunghwa kochi pieotsumnid,” which roughly translates to “Red light, green light 1, 2, 3!” has been used for more than 420,000 videos on the platform, many showing how people would win or lose at the game.