The Squid Game and North Korea – what is the story? Oh it seems like yesterday that viewers were going crazy over Korean drama “Crash Landing on You”, and now it is the turn of Squid Game!
Crash Landing on You?
We won’t do any spoiler alerts, just in case you do in fact decide to watch it, but long story short a girl “crash lands” in North Korea and falls in love. Classic Korean stuff, except it meant South Korea recreating North Korea.
To say the sho was a cultural phenomenon would be an understatement, but of course it also caused a certain amount of controversy in the DPRK.
How accurate was their portrayal oof the North? You can read the opinion of our K-Drama and K-Pop expert Nic Song-Dok’s here.
What is Squid Game?
I’ll give the very brief intro here for a few reasons, firstly I am only a few episodes in myself, but also no one likes a spoiler alert. Essentially though 456 people with financial problems enter a “game show”, whereby they play children games, such as “The Squid Game”, but with deadly consequences.
Last man standing gets a whole heap of cash, you know the drill.
How do you play the Squid Game?
Now I am not talking about the TV show, but about the game that it is named after. The squid game is explained in great detail in the opening sequence of the show, but I still honestly don’t get it.
It basically involves two teams on a court marked out with chalk that looks like a squid. There’s a whole heap of hopping, special terms, regional varieties and for me at least confusion.
Therefore instead of an elaborate explanation I have decided to simply embed a YouTube video that does a much better job of explaining it than me/
The Squid Game and North Korea
What is likely to prove controversial to the DPRK is the very fashionable choice to have at least one North Korean character as part of the plot. Her basic bio is she is called Kang Sae-byeok (강새벽, who is a North Korean defector that enters the Game to pay for a broker to find and retrieve her family that is still in the north of the peninsula.
If early signs are anything to go by she is also not that great a person, being a pickpocket among other things. So, not exactly as earth shattering as Crash Landing on You, but still some DPRK jollies if that is your thing.
The Squid game and socialism?
Is the squid game socialist in nature? OK, so we are talking about the TV show rather than the children’s game, kids generally not tending to be of a left-wing nature.
To read about Socialist Countries click here.
Director Hwang Dong-hyuk originally conceived of the idea based upon his own personal economic woes in his early life.
Th show is therefore somewhat based around class disparity in South Korea, as well as people struggling to survive due in many parts to the vices associated with capitalist societies, such as gambling which does not exist in North Korea (at least for North Koreans).
You can read about the Imperial Hotel and Casino here.
Therefore while there is a North Korean “bad guy” as part of the cast, the social commentary of the series could certainly be viewed in some parts from an anti-capitalist/left-wing point of view, at least in the humble opinion of this writer and viewer.
Therefore it will be interesting to see what the North feel about the show and indeed if they will feel the need to comment about it.