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16 things you probably didn't know about 'Squid Game'

Insider
Insider
 2021-10-08

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On "Squid Game," the contestants compete in children's games with a deadly twist.
  • Netflix's South Korean drama "Squid Game" follows people competing for money in violent games.
  • Creator Hwang D ong-hyuk began working on the script in 2008, and it was originally a film.
  • The doll from the first game actually exists, and the phone number belongs to a real person.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories .
The show was originally called something else.
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Netflix announced its plans for the series a few years ago.

Netflix announced plans for the series in September 2019, and it was originally called "Round Six."

This collaboration with Netflix was creator Hwang Dong-hyuk's first time working with an international entertainment company.

Hwang began working on the script over a decade ago.
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"Squid Game" wasn't always easy to get funding for.

Hwang began working on his script in 2008 and finished the first draft of it in 2009. It took the writer and director nearly six months to write the first two episodes alone.

He told Radio Times that at the time the story felt " unfamiliar and violent " and he worried people would find it too abstract to be commercialized and find a wider audience.

The creator said he also struggled with funding and casting until Netflix picked it up about a decade later.

"But after about 12 years, the world has changed into a place where such peculiar, violent survival stories are actually welcomed," he told The Korea Times .

"Squid Game" was originally meant to be a movie.
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Hwang Dong-hyuk is a filmmaker.

In an interview with Variety , the creator said the project was also originally created as a feature film.

This isn't too surprising, considering Hwang's film background. He wrote and directed major hit movies like "Silenced" and "The Fortress." He was also a screenwriter and director of the musical comedy "Miss Granny," which is widely considered one of the most successful Korean films of all time.

Hwang also said in a Still Watching Netflix YouTube video that the original movie did not have the police detective Jun-ho.

In addition, Ji-yeong, the woman who sacrificed herself for Sae-byeok, was originally created as a male character. Hwang said he changed Ji-yeong's gender because "a bond between women would make more sense."

The walls in the players' room have doodles that foreshadow the games.
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The artwork foreshadows the games the players participate in.

The dorm walls, which are initially covered by beds, actually have drawings that serve as clues for the players to see which games will be played .

The first game's doll is a real creation you can visit.
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The doll guards a museum.

The eerie oversized doll from the first episode of the show is real and can be found in Jincheon County, a rural area around three hours north of Seoul.

The doll was reportedly borrowed for filming "Squid Game" and then returned. According to Koreaboo , the doll guards the entrance of a horse-carriage museum.

The phone number in the first episode of the show is also real.
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The owner of the phone number reported getting thousands of calls each day.

Contestants get involved in the game by calling the eight-digit number on mysterious business cards.

Unfortunately, the phone number is real and belongs to a man who said he received about 4,000 calls a day. A South Korean presidential candidate actually offered to purchase the number from him.

One of the challenges in the show is now a TikTok trend.
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"Squid Game" has a game with dalgona candy.

The challenge with dalgona candy, a type of honeycomb toffee, has inspired TikTokers to create their own version.

The candy consists of two simple ingredients — sugar and baking soda — but the true challenge is eating around the image imprinted in the treat without breaking it .

"The production crew and I would joke about our series starting a dalgona craze, like how Netflix's 'Kingdom' did with the gat ― a traditional Korean hat ― but I'm astounded that it actually happened," the director told The Korea Times .

"Squid Game" might be helping to make similar shows popular on Netflix.
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A still from "Alice in Borderland."

Forbes reported that "Squid Game" is boosting similar shows that aren't in English.

Since the show's release, both the Japanese thriller series "Alice in Borderland" and Korean drama "Sweet Home" have been trending on Netflix.

It's on track to be one of the best-performing shows in Netflix history.
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"Squid Game" has been on US Netflix's top 10 for a while.

The show is rapidly becoming a sensation and is the first Korean drama to rank No. 1 on Netflix's top-10 show chart in the United States.

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said "Squid Game" has a very good chance of being the streaming service's most popular show ever.

There aren't yet any plans for a second season.
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The creator has some other projects he wants to work on first.

Hwang said he'd want to look into creating more movies before thinking about creating a second season of the show.

"I don't have well developed plans for 'Squid Game 2,'" he told Variety . "It is quite tiring just thinking about it. But if I were to do it, I would certainly not do it alone. I'd consider using a writers' room and would want multiple experienced directors."

"Squid Game" uses a real-life news report in its last episode.
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The series shows multiple characters struggling with debt due to inequality in South Korea.

Hwang told The Sunday Times that he wanted to highlight the reality for Korean families as much as possible during the series — so, during the last episode, he uses a real-life news report.

A news anchor says in the episode, "In this country household debt is on the rise, topping the global average. It's the biggest increase in the world besides China due to lifted government restrictions on financial loans."

Hwang said that this news report was from a couple of years ago and, due to the coronavirus, debt is now "ballooning."

"Squid Game" is Jung Ho-yeon's acting debut.
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Jung Ho-yeon as Kang Sae-byeok.

North Korean pickpocketer Kang Sae-byeok was Jung's first acting role.

She had previously been a model and had starred in the fourth season of "Korea's Next Top Model" and had been on the cover of Vogue magazine.

Since her appearance on the series, the model gained millions of followers and is now the most-followed Korean actress.

"Squid Game" creator Hwang said during a "Still Watching Netflix" breakdown video that Jung's audition tape "felt like a gift sent from God."

"Ho-Yeon looked exactly like the Sae-byeok I had been looking for," he said.

Lee Jung-Jae helped humanize "Squid Game" protagonist Gi-hun, according to Hwang.
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Lee Jung-Jae as Seong Gi-hun

In the same YouTube video ,  the "Squid Game" creator said that Lee Jung-Jae "provided suggestions" on how to make Gi-hun the caring character viewers ended up seeing.

In particular, Hwang said Lee suggested the scene in the first episode where Gi-hun feeds a stray cat with some mackerel he had just gotten.

Hwang also explained that Lee improvised Gi-hun's first interaction with Jung's character, Sae-byeok, on episode one.

He said Lee made her break character and laugh on camera when he kept failing to put the straw in her drink cup after knocking it and her over. That clip and a shot of Jung laughing were kept in the final cut.

The green uniforms the contestants had to wear made sets very dusty.
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Contestants had to wear green uniforms for most of the games.

In the Still Watching Netflix video , Hwang and "Squid Game" art director Chae Kyung-sun said the green uniforms the contestants wore were not made out of good material.

"The outfit was not made for sports," Hwang said. "It's like the material of old gym clothes. So with 300 people, it got really dusty in there. It was hard to breathe. Some actors' faces even turned red because of allergies."

Hwang originally wanted the masked guards to look like Boy Scouts.
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Hwang said he noticed the similarities between his outfits and those in "Money Heist."

Hwang also revealed in the "Still Watching Netflix" video that he originally wanted the masked guards to be in a "boy scout-like" uniform but said they showed "the men's figure too well."

He explained he wanted the guards to look like "ants in a colony."

Chae said that the masks were inspired by traditional Korean masks called hahoetal and fencing masks.

"In the process, we added a line on it and it kind of made it look like an ant's face which was the final design," she added.

The sparkling animal masks worn by the CEOs are also significant.

Hwang also told The Sunday Times the masks helped show them as "very powerful animals" to "represent the power elite, the global CEOs."

Gi-hun's technique in the dalgona game was inspired by Hwang's strategy from when he was younger.
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Gi-hun works out that licking the dalgona is a quicker method to win the game.

In the Still Watching Netflix video , Hwang said Gi-hun's technique of licking the dalgona, or honeycomb candy, to remove the shape was a technique he used as a kid.

"It's how I won the grand prizes, which was not good news for the dalgona guy. It's a legendary method," he explained.

Hwang said that he also tried out the technique himself the night before filming the scene to check if it still worked.

Chae also added that the crew had to bring in a professional candy maker to make the dalgona whilst they were filming because if they bought it in bulk then it may have been too thick to lick through.

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