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‘Squid Game’ creator addresses meaning behind show’s violence

Hwang Dong-hyuk has reflected on the Netflix hit's themes

By Joe Goggins

A still from Squid Game on Netflix of the guards and players
An episode still from 'Squid Game', Netflix's biggest ever debut. Photo: Netflix

The creator and director of ‘Squid Game’ has discussed the show’s violent nature in a new speech.

Speaking at the SBS D Forum in his native South Korea, Hwang Dong-hyuk talked about the deeper meaning behind the grisly scenes that have come to define the Netflix sensation.

“Violence in the show looks very lifelike, but it is figurative and allegorical,” he said, explaining that at the show’s core, it is intended to “mirror people who run into a dead end after failing to survive the competitive society”.

In the show, contestants driven to financial desperation compete in a series of reimagined children’s playground games – with death the penalty for failure. Hwang reflected on ‘Squid Game’s sociopolitical themes during his speech.

“I kept asking questions, like who made this competition system in our society, and who drives us into a corner? This is the question that I want to ask everybody living in the midst of the pandemic in the 21st century.”

‘Squid Game’ is the most-watched show in Netflix’s history, with 142 million households worldwide having streamed it. It topped viewing rankings in 94 countries, and a second season is apparently in the works.

The series has proved controversial, with schools and parents alike voicing concern over its influence on children. Earlier this month, a giant ‘Squid Game’ doll at Manchester’s Trafford Centre proved divisive.

Addressing such complaints, Hwang mooted the show’s capacity to provoke mature conversations on difficult subjects. “If there are teenagers who watched this show, we can discuss current issues of our society with them,” he said. “I hope parents tell their children that the violent scenes have their own message in the show.”