YOUNGKYU PARK/ Netflix
Squid Sport, an unique Netflix drama produced in South Korea, is a streaming phenomenon. Launched on 17 September, inside two weeks the collection has grow to be essentially the most watched Netflix title in 76 international locations, together with the US, Australia and South Korea.
Throughout 9 episodes, determined individuals enmeshed in debt voluntarily take part in a sequence of six sadistic and deadly survival video games. The prize for the winner is 46.5 billion received (round A$50 million). On the outset, the 456 contributors are unaware there’s a twist. There can solely be one winner — and the remainder of the contestants will die alongside the best way.
This end result is foreshadowed for viewers in a phase that precedes episode 1, by which two teams of kids are seen taking part in the eponymous Squid Sport (primarily a violent sport performed by Korean schoolboys). The teams wrestle for possession of a squid-shaped space drawn on the bottom. Each attackers and defenders should resist being pushed out of the play space, for, in accordance with the commentary, in case you are pushed out you “die”.
Such video games are generally metaphors for all times experiences. Video games structured as a wrestle for possession, or with the objective of overcoming a participant able of management, are sometimes tales about social aspiration and restricted social mobility.
Within the survival sport performed in episode 1, Crimson Gentle, Inexperienced Gentle (also called “Hibiscus flowers have bloomed” in Korea and “Statues” elsewhere around the globe), gamers can win if they’ll creep ahead when the controlling determine’s again is turned. If seen to maneuver, they’re “eradicated” (and on this case, die).
The brutal adaptation of kids’s video games on the centre of Squid Sport have clearly captured the creativeness of the present’s viewers, and in addition present a startlingly evocative metaphor for socio-economic inequality and capitalism.
Tv drama steadily portrays Korea as a profoundly unequal and violent society. Its traumatic historical past all through many of the twentieth century — Japanese colonisation, the Korean Battle, virtually 40 years of army dictatorship, and monetary crises — has left deep psychological scars on the nationwide psyche.
Darkish political narratives in TV and movie proceed to specific the social impression of that historical past, such because the current Netflix zombie collection, Kingdom (2019–2021), together with D.P. (2021), Sign (2016) and Stranger (2015). The financial hole inside Korean society is ever widening, and has grow to be a recurrent motif in TV drama.
This unequal society is a staple of “Cinderella” tales by which protagonists are displaced into poverty and abused by these with wealth and energy till they regain their place. Additionally it is mirrored in dramas in regards to the super-rich corresponding to Sky Fortress (2018) and The Penthouse (2020-2021), which present how ultra-wealthy Koreans keep their management over the nation’s wealth.
Bong Joon-Ho’s Oscar-winning Parasite (2019) drew dramatic consideration to the financial hole, as have a number of different movies: Burning (2018), Veteran (2015) and Insiders (2015).
Parasite’s win is the proper excuse to get caught into genre-bending and thrilling Korean cinema
YOUNGKYU PARK/ Netflix
Socio-economic inequality in Squid Sport is explored by way of the usually heartbeaking narratives of the contestant’s financial stress. These are proven to be usually compounded by Korea’s lack of a social security internet and unregulated monetary buildings.
Employment in underclasses is precarious: chief protagonist Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) has been retrenched, has amassed playing money owed, can’t afford lifesaving surgical procedure for his mom, and has tried to unravel his monetary issues by borrowing from mortgage sharks.
Tv dramas broadly depict this latter observe as a blight upon society: rates of interest are extortionate and debtors simply slip right into a type of trendy slavery by way of ever rising debt.
Efficient slavery can be depicted in Squid Sport within the exploitation of North Korean refugees and South Asian migrant employees, usually by different underclass members.
Squid Sport contributors who query their dedication to the violent sport are warned by these in management that due to their poverty or stage of debt they are going to be a lot worse off on the planet exterior. Episode 2, Hell, is a practical account of the precarious lifetime of marginalised individuals, and the motivations that drive them into the perilous sport.
The recognition of Squid Sport
The worldwide reputation of Squid Sport could be attributed to varied components.
First, it attracts on a worldwide cultural obsession with sport exhibits, from quiz exhibits the place winners hope to make a fortune to actuality tv applications corresponding to Survivor.
Because the contributors wake on their first morning of their big dormitory, the soundtrack moderately comically consists of Haydn’s triumphalist Trumpet Concerto, which was beforehand used as sign music in a well-liked Korean quiz sport titled Janghak Quiz (1973-1996).
Squid Sport additionally features a stage of violence attribute of western cinema however uncommon in Korean TV drama. It kinds a potent metaphor for a deep social malaise.
The collection additionally incorporates plenty of black comedy and even schadenfreude. There’s a humorous contradiction between occasions on the display, and the romantic music of the soundtrack.
For instance, the ominous preparation for the primary sport, together with passage alongside an Escher-inspired staircase, is accompanied by Johann Strauss’s Blue Danube waltz. Having forgotten his daughter’s birthday, Gi-hun will get her a thriller current which seems to be a cigarette lighter within the form of a gun. The second when she opens her current is each very humorous and heart-wrenching.
Lastly, the collection is a high-quality manufacturing. Its visuals are robust and it builds suspense very successfully. Such parts mood what in any other case might sound heavy-handed social critique.
The success first of Parasite and now of Squid Sport is bringing Korean movie and media into the worldwide limelight in an unprecedented approach.
Hwang Dong-hyuk, director of Squid Sport, needed to wait 12 years to discover a backer for his script. He has been a extremely profitable movie maker, recognized for Dogani (2011) and Miss Granny (2014), and at present appears to have his sights set on a return to the massive display. Maybe he could be persuaded in any other case?
Sung-ae Lee doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that may profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their tutorial appointment.