Squid Game: The Meaning Of The Series, The Explanation Of The Ending, The Analysis Of The Film, The Essence Of The Drama. Squid Game’ Director On The Idea Of the Series: It’s A Loser Story.
Country: South Korea
Genre: Thriller, Drama, Horror, Detective
Year of production: 2021
Director: Hwang Dong-hyuk
Actors: Lee Jong-jae, Park Hae-soo, Jung Ho-young, Anulam Tripathi, Oh Yeon-soo and others.
The meaning of the series Squid Game should obviously be very deep and multifaceted – this is what many people think, watching the hype that reigns around it around the world. At first glance, the film may seem superficial. But it is not so. It makes you think, it has symbols and hidden clues. Although, by and large, this is a thriller made of high quality from many clichés, the purpose of which is to excite and entertain the viewer.
The phenomenon of the series Squid Game
Squid Game became the most popular series on the streaming platform “Netflix” less than a month after its release. It is interesting that funds were practically not invested in the promotion of the project outside of South Korea, where it was produced – information about it was spread virally through social networks. An important role was played by the fact that the series was dubbed in thirty-four languages - thanks to this, people from other countries were more willingly involved in watching.
Frame from the series.
Squid Game has hundreds of thousands of fans around the world. The internet is littered with fan videos of the games that have been showcased in the series. The main audience is teenagers, the most active of all age categories. And the fact that we managed to hook her first of all is one of the secrets of the popularity of the project among all the others.
Under the hashtag #squidgame on TikTok, whose main users are teenagers, billions of meme clips on the theme of “Squid Games” have been published. From there, an unstoppable stream of hype poured into other sites. By mid-autumn, this series became the most popular in the world – more than 110 million people watched it. If we take into account those who use pirated resources, then this number can be safely multiplied by at least two.
The project, of course, was not conceived as a series for teenagers. The creator of Squid Game Hwang Dong-hyuk, for whom the hype around his brainchild, like for many, was a complete surprise, focused on adult Koreans, who, like him, are well acquainted with the dark side of capitalism – the director has repeatedly been in the shoes debt-ridden loser. He unsuccessfully tried to sell the film script for ten years, until he finally got lucky. Ironically, one of the largest capitalist giants, Netflix, contributed to its frenzied rise.
The story invented by Hwang Dong-hyuk, as in the case of the recently thundered South Korean hit “Parasite”, turned out to be universal – understandable to children and adults, Koreans and representatives of other nationalities. Moreover, in both films, if you know the meaning of some purely national details, the meaning may change slightly.
The series, taking into account the realities of the global economic crisis, looks quite topical and modern – perhaps, in ten years the plot has only “infused”. The director notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated class disparities in South Korea and around the world, making the series more realistic. The versatility and modernity of Squid Game can also be attributed to the decisive success factors.
What is the series about
The protagonist of the series is the loser Son Ki-hoon. He is divorced, lives with his mother, uses her money to gamble, but constantly loses. He already owed a large sum. One day, on the subway, he meets a strange man who gives him a business card with the contacts of the organizers of the game, where there is a chance to get big money.
Lee Jung Jae plays the lead role of a heavily indebted gambler named Ki Hoon. Frame from the series.
And now, Gi-hoon, along with several hundred of the same desperate debtors, which include his childhood friend, is involved in deadly fights for survival and a prize of 45.6 billion won.
The show is made specifically for the rich, who are bored with everything and who want to see an unforgettable spectacle. Each stage is some kind of childish fun, well known to Koreans. The losers are brutally killed. The game continues, although the participants have the opportunity to refuse it by a majority vote. In parallel, we observe the story of detective Hwang Chun-ho, who is looking for his missing brother and infiltrates the lair of the organizers of the game.
Read the detailed content of all the series of Squid Game at the link.
Will there be a continuation
Will be. The creator and screenwriter of the film, Hwang Dong-hyuk, told The Associated Press in an interview that he is going to start filming the second season. The Netflix platform has not yet officially confirmed this information. The filming dates for the second season of Squid Game have not yet been determined.
It is hardly worth looking for hidden ideas in the series: everything lies on the surface here, the content is quite straightforward.
The meaning of the film Squid Game is as follows. We are shown the wrong side of a capitalist society, in which people, driven to despair, are ready to kill each other in pursuit of the golden calf, and the powers that be, in the fight against boredom, watch this and place their bets.
The director came up with the idea for Squid Game when he himself, like the main character, lived with his mother and experienced an acute shortage of money. The inspiration comes from Japanese battle royale-style survival manga. Hwang Dong-hyuk says bluntly in an interview, “I had a desire to write a story that would become an allegory for modern capitalist society, where competition is depicted in its unsightly, extreme form. I wanted to use characters that we often meet in our lives … This is a story about underdogs.
The main character and his childhood friend are different incarnations of the director. Hwang Dong-hyuk managed to be in the shoes of both: he, like Gi-hoon, was raised by a poor single mother and, like Sang-woo, he graduated from the prestigious Seoul National University, high hopes were placed on him.
Park Hae-soo as the main character’s childhood friend, Sang-woo. Frame from the series.
The bottom line is that neither one nor the other finds happiness in modern society – both are mired in debt and are only concerned about the material side of life. Not only among them, but among all participants in the game, the cult of money is elevated to the absolute. The same is true for the organizers and for wealthy spectators of the game. Its creator himself, the old man Oh Il-nam, at the end gives an explanation that he came up with everything out of boredom – he wanted to entertain himself and his wealthy partners, he tried to return the lost taste for life.
This taste of life, the joy of a carefree stay on this beautiful planet is symbolized by cheerful children’s games. But their meaning is perverted by the fact that they are placed in a system where competition and cruelty are of paramount importance. The strongest survive – there is no place for love, friendship, compassion here.
Everyone is absorbed in this cruel game – so much so that, having such an opportunity, they are unable to refuse to participate, even realizing that the chances of surviving are extremely small. Note that at the end, Gi-hoon, despite all the horror that has happened, continues to play. The content of his conversation with the old man Il-nam is the next stage. They make a bet on whether someone will save a person freezing in the street. At the same time, it does not occur to Gi-hun to come to the rescue himself. He doesn’t even make an attempt to use the money for good deeds: after a whole year of torment, he essentially just shifts the responsibility, along with the suitcase with the winnings, onto Sang-woo’s mother. And the desire to be with her daughter is blocked by an unconscious desire to return to the game under the pretext of punishing the guilty and restoring justice.
Tug of war game. Frame from the series.
Blinkers, concentration on oneself, one’s own survival and one’s own benefit does not allow the participants to act together. None of the organizers said that only one should survive. Players were provoked to kill all the time, and they willingly succumbed to these provocations.
But at least two tests could be passed by all participants. For example, on a glass bridge, a player standing behind could belay the one in front by clasping him or holding his hand. For reliability, everyone could join hands and create a living chain. And the condition of the game of balls sounded like this: you need to pick up all the opponent’s balls. So you can just exchange balls – then everyone will win. Not to mention that you can always stop testing by majority vote.
Everything is like trying to catch a ghost: the poor are trying to get more money, which in the end turns out to be useless, and the rich, who have plenty of them, do not know how to live on, try in vain to entertain themselves.
The series could be called a dystopia, but the society shown in it is not fictional in order to warn what fate may await us in the future. Everything that happens in the film is happening on our planet at the present time, albeit not exactly in the same form.
But the essence is the same: competition, selfishness, cruelty, betrayal, a useless pursuit of profit, a total lack of happiness and love. Almost everyone has elements of such a real-time capitalist dystopia in their lives.
Symbols and hidden clues
Above the heads of the participants hangs a huge piggy bank, illuminated by yellow light. The players look at her, dreaming about how good everything will be when they win. This piggy bank literally replaces the sun with them. Instead of warmth, light, joy – money, money and again money.
Coffin in a gift box
The guards put the bodies of the dead in a black box with a pink ribbon. The art director of the series, Chae Kyung-sung, gave an explanation for this. According to her, the creator of the game fancies himself a god. And such a design of the coffin is a kind of manifestation of his perverted mercy. He seems to say to the loser: “This is my gift to you.” The director complements these words with another hidden meaning: black and pink are the colors typical for executives in offices.
Frame from the series.
Player number 001
Oh Il-nam is the main organizer of the game. There are many details in the series that hint at this. This, for example, is the player’s number – 001. Why did the sick old man suddenly turn out to be the first candidate in the survival game? Even his name literally means “first person” in Korean.
In the traffic light challenge, the glow around Il-nam’s figure is not as bright as that around the other players. This probably means that his movements are not being scanned and he is relatively safe.
When Detective Chun-ho finds the player data folder, it has player profile 002 in the first place instead of 001.
Oh Yeon-soo as player 001, Il-nam. Frame from the series.
In the tug-of-war challenge, Il-nam’s arm does not have a lock – it looks like he could just let go of the rope at any time.
When a massacre begins between the players after lights out, the guards stop it only when old man Il-nam begs to stop.
Il-nam clearly sympathizes with Gi-hoon. Before the “ball game” challenge, Il-nam gives his jacket to the protagonist – perhaps so that he would not be shot by the guards. And in the final, he allows him to win, after teasing him.
The envelopes that the recruiter on the subway offers to play Gi-hoon have colors that are identical to the uniforms of the players and guards – blue and pink. The protagonist chose blue and turned out to be a test participant. Perhaps if he had taken another envelope, he would have become a warden. After all, we know that the guards at the game are also ordinary people who need money.
Blue and pink are also a reference to the cult “Matrix” with its red pill, which gives awakening from the collective sleep, and blue, which returns ignorance. But not only. There is also a Japanese horror story that migrated to Korea about a creepy monster man named Aka Manto. He appears if you go into the last cubicle of the school toilet and find that the toilet paper is over. Aka-Manto offers a choice of blue or red paper. If you choose red, the monster will kill the needy in the most bloody way, and if blue, on the contrary, it will suck out all the blood.
It’s a choice without a choice. Another hint that no matter which side of the game you are on, there is not much difference. This idea echoes the idea of the cult film “Platform”, the meaning of which is that we all exist in the rigid framework of the social system.
Caramel carving game. Frame from the series.
The way the main characters die in the game echoes their previous actions. So, Ali stole money from his boss. And he died because Sang-woo stole his stones. Deok-soo, escaping from a rival gang, jumped off the bridge, and died – falling, falling under the glass bridge. Seo-pyok threatened the scammer by holding a knife to his throat. Sang-woo also slit her throat with a knife. Sang-woo himself contemplated suicide while lying in his bathtub dressed, and ended up committing it.
Circle, triangle and square
Frame from the series.
These are the symbols on the masks of the guards and on the business card of the organizers. Workers are marked around, preparing food, getting rid of corpses, etc. The triangle is the sign of a soldier. They are armed and must keep order. Wearing masks with squares – representatives of the authorities, managers. This is the meaning that the director put into these symbols (information from the interview).
Books in the spirit of the series “Squid Game”
Podcast: How a gory tale of inequality became the top show of the year
The meaning of the ending
The ending of the “Squid Game” does not allow for an unambiguous interpretation. The director clearly wanted to finish all the storylines, but he had to leave an open ending. One thing is clear: Gi-hoon does not let go of the game. He got stuck in her tightly. The hero dyed his hair in pink light – and this is also a symbol. It could mean the rage seething in him. But the clue may also be that Gi-hoon is already actually on the side of the guards and will continue to act in this role next season. Changing the appearance of the characters may also mean a rebirth of the individual, but this is clearly far from that.
Il-nam also remained a player until his death in the finale, confident that humanity was hopeless.
The meaning of the ending of the series “Squid Game” can be stated as follows: the game is not over, the inhumane system continues to work, new victims are inevitable.
The Internet is full of reviews with other explanations for the ending, detailed discussions of the series’ obscure moments, and fan theories about it. So, one is that old man Il-nam, the organizer of the game, is Gi-hoon’s father. That is why he showed care and sympathy for him, that’s why he left him alive in the test with balls. We know that Gi-hoon grew up without a father, he, like his son Il-nam, is lactose intolerant.
Another theory is that the people in the pink suits are the winners of past games. After all, the brother of the detective, who joined the ranks of the organizers, was also a winner.