I don’t even have to say it – Squid Game‘s arguably the most popular series to have ever premiered on Netflix.
It’s been the one show that everyone and everyone else they know are watching as closely as the doll watching players’ every move in the Red Light, Green Light game.
Who knew simple children’s games could take on an entire new (and dark) meaning for people around the world now with just one show?
You may even love it so much that you’re wondering where it’s been all your life, too.
However, behind every successful masterpiece, there exists years of blood, sweat and tears that no one ever sees until these projects come to light.
And the man behind all that the world’s raging about right now is no exception.
Squid Game Was Rejected For 10 Years
When director Hwang Dong Hyuk first started writing the script of Squid Game, he probably had no idea of the worldwide success it would bring him a decade later.
Lest you haven’t caught the show, here’s a synopsis of it:
“Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children’s games. Inside, a tempting prize awaits with deadly high stakes. A survival game that has a whopping 40-million-dollar prize at stake.”
The characters compete in six rounds of games – and by deadly high stakes, they really mean that if one loses any of the games, they’ll get killed instantly.
Inspired by several manhwas, or Korean comics, that Hwang read when he was a child, the birth of the Squid Game story came about when he was living with his mom and grandma.
Writing it didn’t come easy, as Hwang also once felt the pain that his characters felt – not having enough money to survive in this capitalist society.
At one point, he even had to stop writing the script for a while as he needed to sell his laptop for $675 to make ends meet.
Completing the script in 2009 was some relief, but it wasn’t the end of his troubles.
Hwang went around pitching his story to investors and actors, who all rejected it after feeling the same about his script – calling it weird, unrealistic, and too graphic.
Well, understandably, it was 2009, and people didn’t really want to watch waves of people getting massacred on screen in such brutal ways.
Timely In The COVID-19 Pandemic
Yet, faced with all this rejection, Hwang never gave up on trying to bring Squid Game to life, although he recognised it was too premature.
It turned out that his script was never bad, or too weird, but just simply came before its time.
With the rise of OTT streaming platforms such as Netflix, it also meant that the types of media people were consuming experienced a great shift.
And thus, it was the platform that recognised the value of Hwang’s script, picking it up in 2018.
Squid Game was meant to be a critique of capitalism, showcasing the huge gap between the rich and the poor, and how people were falling into “get rich quick” schemes more than ever.
“The world has changed,” Hwang told Wall Street Journal.
“All of these points made the story very realistic for people compared to a decade ago.”
Hwang cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason why global audiences may have been able to resonate with the story, which was rather timely in its release.
It’s kind of sad how the world has turned out to be this way, though.
Now, Squid Game has propelled to the top of Netflix rankings worldwide in over 90 countries, including Singapore.
It seems like the phrase “hard work never betrays” proves true in stories like Hwang’s.
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