Squid Game Review: A Series That Is Breaking Language Barriers and Highlighting Major Societal Issues

Squid Game Review: A Series That Is Breaking Language Barriers and Highlighting Major Societal Issues

Sabrina Indorato, Staff Writer

Squid Game is the most watched show from Netflix to this day. Viewers thought the release of Stranger Things 4 would beat it – but it failed. With 1.65 billion hours of the show watched in 28 days, Squid Game quickly became the most famous film to ever be released from Netflix and the most popular Halloween costume of 2021. In June of 2022, lead actor, Lee Jung-jae, revealed that there will be a Squid Game 2 in 2023 or 2024 and that there will indeed be more games. Just in time for Halloween and the one year anniversary of one of the most globally famous shows to come to the screen, here’s my take. 

Squid Game follows the main character, Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), a divorced father and indebted gambler who lives with his elderly mother. Gi-hun is invited to play a series of children’s games for a chance to win a large cash prize. When he accepts the offer, he is taken to an unknown location on an island where he finds himself among 455 other players taken from the streets of South Korea who are also in debt. He soon realizes that they are all playing deadly versions of children’s games. The winner leaves with a whopping 45.6 billion-won prize – or they’ll die trying.

This show does an extremely good job of capturing social classes within South Korea. This concept of monetary power also shows the insanity it can lead people to, especially in a life or death situation. South Korea is a mostly capitalist country and the gap between the rich and poor is demonstrated through these games. The poor are willing to do anything for money as the rich sit back and watch them fight to the death for it. 

Squid Game also shows the discrimination based on age, sex, ethnicity, and/or nationality. These prejudices that normally wouldn’t be shown are seen in acts of self-preservation. When picking teammates for certain games, all of these categories were in the player’s minds. Did they really want to team up with an old woman and why not? A North Korean defector? All of these prejudices in South Korea not only added to the plot but also to major themes in the show.

The director, Hwang Dong-Hyuk’s, lighting and color choices within the show are also very contrasting compared to the weight of certain situations. The games are designed for people to die yet are in colorful and childish settings. In the picture to the left, the players are literally in a playground with the walls painted as innocent clouds. Even the guards are dressed in bright red and the players in bright green. The lighting throughout the show is both dark and bright. Dark when it’s behind the scenes, light when it’s during the games. This conveys the actual dark undertones of the game and its creators outside of the literal playing field. 

Although Squid Game is an amazing Korean show, there are so many other breathtaking films made by Netflix in the Korean language. Some of my personal favorites (many still not mentioned since I truly can’t pick) would be Crash Landing on You, 20th Century Girl, My Name, Record of Youth, Business Proposal, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, Vincenzo, Twenty Five Twenty One, and All of Us Are Dead. There’s still plenty of others I haven’t watched yet including the Korean spin off of the, originally Spanish, Money Heist on Netflix which also has amazing reviews. Definitely go give them a watch if you’re stuck on that Netflix home page for longer than you’d like to be. The language barrier just means you put on some subtitles and enjoy, I promise you won’t regret it.