Squid Game a win for Korean cinema (and Netflix’s bottom line)

Squid Game, the hit Korean TV drama taking the world by storm, has become an almost unprecedented cash cow for Netflix.

The streaming service says the gripping debut season will create around US$900 million in value for the company, which has seen its share price jump 6% since Squid Game was released on September 17.

The thrilling story of down-and-out people signing up to play mysterious children’s games in the hope of winning a large cash prize enjoyed enormous, almost immediate success, but has actually been a long time in the making.

Series creator and director Hwang Dong-hyuk had to work tirelessly for more than a decade to bring Squid Game to life.

Squid Game
One of the many disturbing scenes from the hit TV series. (Source: Netflix)

How Squid Game was born

Director Hwang Dong-hyuk first conceived the idea and began writing in 2008.

“That was a time when I frequented comic book stores,’ he said.

“As I was reading a lot of comic books, I thought about creating something like a comic book story in Korea, and I finished the script in 2009.”

As a film director, Hwang Dong-hyuk originally planned for Squid Game to be a film, but what eventuated was something perhaps much bigger.

Squid Game
Squid Game featured strange, creative set designs. (Source: Netflix)

The road to success

After writing the screenplay in 2019, Hwang Dong-hyuk shelved the project as he worked on his hit films Silenced (2011), Miss Granny (2014) and The Fortress (2017).

It was following those movies he was able to create the series.

“At the time, it seemed very unfamiliar and violent,” he said.

“There were people who thought it was a little too complex and not commercial. I wasn’t able to get enough investment and casting was not easy.

“I dabbled in it for about a year, but I had to put it to sleep then.”

A behind the scenes look at the making of Squid Game. (Source: Netflix)

About a decade after conceiving the idea, Hwang Dong-hyuk was finally able to bring it to fruition.

“Thanks to Netflix, there was no limit and I was given creative freedom to work as I wanted to.”

A coup for Asian cinema

Squid Games featured an all-Korean cast and has proved hit, viral TV shows can be created outside of the United States.

The show’s creator is also pleased to shine a light on important issues and deliver a poignant message.

“I wanted to write a story that was an allegory or fable about modern capitalist society, something that depicts an extreme competition, somewhat like the extreme competition of life,” Hwang Dong-hyuk said.

“It’s not all depressing though, as we see the characters hold onto their humanity and hope.

“The commentary on human nature and society is definitely thought-provoking.”

Another series, another overwhelming success for Netflix.

A series two of Squid Game surely inevitable.

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