On September 17, 2021, Netflix’s “Squid Game” made its debut on the streaming service. Hwang Dong-hyuk’s “Squid Game” had a long journey to see the light of day, as it was initially rejected for nearly a decade until finally being greenlit by Netflix two years ago.
“Squid Game” introduces their main protagonist, Seong Gi-Hun, who is in financial trouble with debt collectors. He is a gambler, lazy, divorced, and lives with his elderly mother struggling with health problems. To make matters worse, is his constant failures as a parent to his 10-year-old daughter, as he makes his daughter’s birthday unsatisfying. The same night after bringing his daughter back to his ex-wife’s house, he is met in a subway station by a well-dressed man. This man offers Seong the chance to play a game for money. This scene is very comical as every time Seong loses, he is then slapped by the man. Finally winning, Seong receives the cash and a card with a chance to change his life for the better.
Thinking about the card and his financial troubles, his mother tells him that he will lose the chance to see his daughter as she moves to the United States in a year. Due to this information, Seong then calls the number in the back of the card to participate in a series of games without knowing the severe challenges he will face.
While being picked up by a mysterious man in a van late at night, Seong is knocked out by sleeping gas reaching to the games. He wakes up with a new pair of clothes in a room with other contestants. Seong notices his childhood friend, an older man with a brain tumor, and a pickpocket. At the same time, surprised by the number of people in the room, multiple men in masks walk out to introduce the games. In an uproar, the contestants are furious with being kidnapped and not knowing where they are. However, in particular, one man tells them why they are here and what measures had to be taken, as each contestant is struggling financially.
The masked man then informs the 456 contestants that there will be six games, and if someone loses, they will be eliminated. While the players walk to the first stage, the contestants are introduced to “Red Light, Green Light.” Thinking this would be easy, contestants who failed were killed. The scene is eerie, as each player is shocked by the outcome of these games. While narrowing his safety, Seong and other players fear for their lives and want to quit knowing that half of the other members were killed. The masked men then allowed the contestants to vote to end the game or continue for the prize.
To me, “Squid Game” displayed significant character development not only in our protagonist but in our side characters. It focuses heavily on human nature as to what people would do for money and how this can damage relationships. The uneasiness of each member going through the games and outside of them makes it more challenging. Contestants lose their identities, while others grow new ones. “Squid Game” isn’t just a death parade, it is a show of character improvement.
Sources: Esquire, Collider, and Netflix