This review contains spoilers.
“Squid Game” is a South Korean survival based drama which streamed on Netflix. The drama is currently very popular for it’s thrilling and mysterious storyline and the actors’ phenomenal performance.
The game revolves around 456 players. The players are from different walks of life with different backgrounds, but what they all have in common is that that they all are deep in debt. It is their financial problems that lead them to the game where they play with their lives at stake to take away the 45.6 billion prize money.
The lead of the drama is contestant no. 456, Seong Gi-hun. He is a divorced, gambling addicted chauffer who lives with his mother. When his debt catches up to him, he is offered to play a children’s game by a strange man with money at stake. This man finally lures him to play the squid game.
When he enters the game, he finds 455 other players who are similarly in debt. All the players are dressed in green jumpsuit, the guards that watch them are in pink jumpsuit and are wearing masks that have either a circle, triangle or a square painted on them. The symbols are also an indication of the hierarchy among the guards and personnel. The whole game is overseen by a man in a black suit, cloak and mask.
Throughout the drama, other players are also featured with their backstories, giving the audience a multidimensional perspective of the whole games. Seong Gi-hun’s childhood friend, Cho Sang-woo is also featured. He is a gifted student who studied from Seoul National University and works in a huge company. But he was millions in debt and even mortgaged off all his and his mother’s property.
Kang Sae-byeok is a North Korean defector who needs money to pay the broker to find her remaining family members. While she enters the game, she leaves her younger brother in a children’s home. She survives to the final three and died at the hand of Cho Sang-woo and because excessive blood loss from the previous game.
Similarly, Abdul Ali enters the game because his employer refuses to pay him for many months and he needs the money to pay for his wife and child. He is deceived and betrayed by Sang-woo in the fourth game. Sang-woo takes advantage of his naivety and ignorance and wines the game. Thus Ali is shot by a staff member.
Oh Il-nam is an elderly man with a brain tumor and prefers playing the game to dying in the outside world. But this man has another identity. Though he is shown dead in the fourth game, he is actually one of the initiators of the whole game and survives till after the end of the game where he is shown to have died in a high building in a hospital bed.
Hwang Jun-ho is a police officer. He is looking for his brother and gets clues about the games through a card that he found in his brother’s apartment. He sneaks into the games by taking the disguise of one of the guards and actively tries to find information about his brother. He finds out in the end that the man in the black mask supervising the games is his brother and is shot by him in the end.
The other characters are also interesting. For example, Jang Deok-su is a gangster and Han Mi-nyeo claims to be a single, poor mother. These character shows open ruthlessness and cruelty.
Throughout the drama, the players play seemingly children’s game but the cruel version with deadly consequences. This draws a parallel to the innocence of children to the cruelty of adulthood and and the darkness that adults carry in them. The storyline also highlights the viciousness, greed and recklessness in human nature. The players killing each other for the money and the rich people betting on them, these are physical representations of this fact. Humor also comes in the form of irony. foe example when the players play dalgona game, the players that were having a hard time sees Seong Gi-hun licking the candy to melt it and they copy it. This scene of a bunch of adults licking candy like crazy is humorous but as the game has their lives at stake, it makes it quite ironic.
Overall, the drama shows human nature in one of it’s worst lights and draws a parallel with the innocence of children’s games. The acting is realistic and heart touching. This shows that the drama has truly earned it’s popularity.