K-Drama is somewhat of a newfound phenomenon for viewers outside of Korea. K-Drama may not even be the most appropriate name for the genre! What do you call a series or film that has comedy, dark comedy, thriller, psychological thriller and mystery all within? It’s a tough one, but we’re going to stick with K-Drama for now, even though they are certainly as thrilling as any other thriller. It seems dumbfound to think that we live in a generation (which is notorious for low attention spans) that can watch something in a language other than English with subtitles, but this just shows how good this show is. Saying that, there is an option for “English-dubbed”, but watching like that certainly takes away from the essence of the show.
Yes, it’s Squid Game! If you haven’t heard of it already, you should look it up right now. A K-Drama taking the world by storm on Netflix, it currently boasts a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes!
This isn’t the first time we’ve been excited by a Korean production, looking back to 2019’s Parasite. Parasite, which also has a high Rotten Tomatoes rating, 98%, was nominated and also the winner of numerous awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture. Parasite was the first Non-English language movie to win the award, and if you’ve seen it you won’t be surprised. Nonetheless, the movie gave us a taste of the potential of K-productions, and with the latest “Squid Game”, you will surely feel satisfied.
Squid Game is a prime example of the ideas that the genre can produce. If you had to compare it to something, it could be compared to something like British-made Black Mirror; also extremely popular due to its unique and alternative ideas. Squid Game follows the lives of a few select people, all struggling with debt-issues and in need of some quick cash, in significant portions. Essentially the people who partake in the life-and-death games in the series have it so bad in the normal world, that the chance-sacrifice which would pay out significantly is worth the risk. A moral issue of great magnitude in itself, it shows how desperation can drive people to do whatever it takes, no matter how crazy it is.
A series that follows the lives of more than one main character, it is hard to decide whom the show centers around. The characters who appear to show the most back-story are Seong Gi-Hun, Kang Sae-Byeok and Cho Sang-Woo. Individual struggles for different reasons; such as defection and isolation, unemployment and mistakes in business show us how quick downfalls can occur. Desperation can make people act in strange ways and when put in a life and death situation, you may not even stay true to your own values.
The show has some particularly heartbreaking moments, and without giving too much away, some characters are quite poorly treated. The essence of the “Squid Games” prides itself on equality. Where every player will have as equal an opportunity as another. This actually fares true for many situations and things in the games. For example, each player receives the same amount of food and the same game conditions. However, some players try to take advantage and are successful, turning to dark and dastardly measures that only rise in aggressiveness. From something small like stealing extra food, all the way to full-fledged murder; the show will keep you on the edge of your seat just begging for more.
Luck and Chance
The games also use an element of luck and chance. For example, without knowledge of what exactly the game will be, the players often have to make decisions. Perhaps it is which shape to stand in front of, which players to team up with. Often this will work out well for the players; for example picking a team of strong men and the game being a strength-based game. However, as you will see in the show, these decisions can often lead to the most heartbreaking of events. The show excellently tugs on your heart-strings as friendship is challenged, and in a game where trust is somewhat impossible but also a necessity; actions certainly have consequences.
As the show goes on you will learn more about the origins of the games, as well as a significant sub-plot by a certain Korean Policeman, Hwang Jun-Ho. From rich American benefactors to Koreans below the poverty line, the show produces a number of themes that will engross the viewer into a focused viewing. The next “Binge-Worthy” show you must watch, Squid Game will not let you down.