Netflix’s Squid Game is dominating the world, sort-of, by ruling topping streaming charts in over 90 countries, to the point where a broadband provider sued Netflix over a massive surge in traffic. Audiences await word of a sequel or a spinoff or anything new at all, and even Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has congratulated his rival streaming service for knowing how to dominate audiences around the globe. Of course, Bezos was kind-of missing the point, since the show is a blistering critique on capitalism (with a capital “C”), but a further point is that people cannot get enough of this (fictional, thankfully) show about hundreds of desperate contestants who play a deadly survival game to win enough money to, you know, survive in the real world.
Well, South Korean filmmaker Hwang Dong-hyuk has been very vocal amid his show’s overwhelming success. He has claimed to have lost six teeth due to all the stress involved with bringing this intense series to life. He also recently sat down with IndieWire to discuss the show’s inspirations. Some of those have been very obvious, given that the Korean economy has been in the tank. Dong-hyuk revealed that, yes, that was certainly an impetus, but he also outlined the other inspirations with this whammy (Trump being like a VIP) at the end:
“…And then Donald Trump became the president of the United States and I think he kind of resembles one of the VIPs in the Squid Game. It’s almost like he’s running a game show, not a country, like giving people horror. After all these issues happened, I thought it was about time that this show goes out into the world.”
Obviously, Trump fronted a reality TV franchise (The Apprentice) that rolled out like a game show, and that’s also arguably how he helmed the U.S. as president. That sentiment is not new, but it’s really something to see it starkly represented in moments of Squid Game. Of course, Dong-hyuk added that he was also inspired by “the cryptocurrency boom” and “the rise of IT giants like Facebook, Google, and in Korea, there’s Naver, and they are just restructuring our lives.” It’s all very bleak stuff in the context of the show, but clearly, it’s resonating.