Netflix’s new series “Squid Game” is trending and has been popular through out social media since it dropped. Squid Game is basically another death game flick. We’ve had Battle Royale (2000), Saw (2004-2010), and now we have Squid Game (2021). Like many survival stories, the characters have to do anything it takes in order to survive. All the players that are involved in the games have got one thing in common: they are on the brink of financial ruin. With nothing else left to bargain, they sign away their physical rights.
The story revolves around a financially distressed man with gambling addiction and an ailing mother while fighting for the custody of his daughter. This man is forced to take drastic measures to address his problems and for the sake of his family. He signed up for a game whose consequences he did not at the beginning, was ready to leave despite the money due to the high stakes, but was forced to return for lack of options. Players who lose in the games get eliminated—and a play on this word revealing the true meaning later in the games made the games more ominous.
If you look at it a little bit closer, the story is really all about the financial complexities of its setting which is not far from reality. The setting of the series is South Korea at a time of economic crisis. Just like the Academy Award-winner film “Parasite”, we glimpse at a South Korea we do not usually see in the Korean wave or hallyu that spread across the world since the beginning of this century. The disposition of the game players does exist in real life and their values and characters were magnified by this illusory game.
It was mentioned in the last episode: “The country’s reported household debt is rapidly on the rise, topping the current global average.” And “The reason for the steep rise in Korea’s reported household debt is due, at least in part, to the lifted government restrictions on financial loans.” In this context, you’ll know why the players had to play the games.
In episode 5, the protagonist is daydreaming. He stated that he once worked at company and then a number of employees were fired, including him. He also stated that after they were fired, they went on a strike that ended bitterly and violently.
“Our bosses said we couldn’t stay. I had no other option. They ruined the company and held us responsible,” he said.
Such situation often happens in real life. The workers are the ones that always held responsible for their irresponsible boss’ shortcomings and greed for their personal interests while they were depriving the workers their deserved wages and benefits. An example of this the Ludlow Massacre that took place at Colorado, US.
Also, these games are orchestrated by rich people. In last episode, a creditor admitted the he was the one who was behind it, with help of his rich clients just for the sake of having fun.
In episode 7, the story introduces us to the VIPs (the clients of the mastermind), all of them are speaking in English, which means that these people came from the Western part of the world where capitalism thrives and reeks and serves to maintain global poverty. They created the game to pretend to give poor people a chance to live a better life.
In conclusion, Squid Game tells us how poverty is not one man’s fault but truly because of the greediness of the upper class. Life becomes a survival on the daily as the rich preys on the poor, and this is every time they get richer and the poor get poorer. Squid Game, however fantastic, showed how such madness is really not far from social reality. People are already dying, playing to survive exploitation, joblessness, homelessness, hunger, sickness and poverty brought upon an unequal and unjust social order.