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Squid Game on Netflix: How to watch the disturbing hit show, what to know

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Desperate and in horrendous debt, the players of Squid Game risk their lives to play deadly children’s games in hope of a big payout.


Netflix/Youngkyu Park

The No. 1 show on Netflix as of Monday is a Korean series with an odd name. Squid Game, released on Sept. 17, is a nine-episode series about a world where children’s games turn deadly. Squid Game is the first Korean drama to hit the No. 1 spot on Netflix, reaching that milestone just four days after its release. It’s bloody and violent, but it’s also addictive and bingeable. 

Here’s what to know.

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead, though we’ll only explain the basics of the show, not who lives or dies.

What’s Squid Game about?

Squid Game focuses on a desperately indebted group of people in South Korea. They’re first tricked into a deadly tournament of children’s games, but then many of them volunteer to come back, realizing the games may be their only chance to win the money they need to survive. Big bucks are at stake — 45 billion South Korean won, which translates to $38 million US (£27 million,  AU$52 million). But the odds of survival aren’t good. Think The Hunger Games only featuring contests such as Red Light, Green Light and marbles.

You’ll get some Hunger Games flashbacks watching Squid Game, and there’s some throwbacks to Hostel and other horror flicks when a group of masked rich VIPs come to bet on and cheer on the deaths. But Squid Game doesn’t feel like a copycat — it’s a well-done drama/horror series. Rich backstories are developed not just for the desperate contestants, but for others, including some of the red-suited masked guards.

You can watch the trailer here:

What does the name Squid Game mean?

In the first episode, main character Seong Gi-hun (played by Lee Jung-jae) explains that Squid Game was a game kids in his neighborhood once played on a squid-shaped court. It’s kind of like Red Rover, or an elaborate version of tag. No spoilers, but the Squid Game itself eventually comes up in the deadly tourney.

Why should you watch Squid Game?

No question the show has a dark theme and blood spurts freely. Watching children’s games turned into deadly battles is unnerving, and it’s not for everyone. But the characters are well-developed and the action moves quickly and never lets up for long. 

Main character Seong Gi-hun is a desperate dad who’s easy to root for, but he’s not perfect — there’s a heartbreaking episode where his actions lead to a wrenching death. And he’s not alone — other contestants include an elderly man who becomes the grandfather of the group, a North Korean refugee, a gangster with a snake tattoo on his face, and a highly educated man who was the pride of his hometown, but didn’t quite live up to his potential.

The characters are introduced quickly and smoothly, and then the games are on. Once you’ve watched an episode, it’s hard not to keep coming back for more, even if just to see who survives the next twisted game.

How can you watch Squid Game?

You’re going to need Netflix to tune in to the nine-episode series. (Read more about Netflix and how to get it here.) 

Squid Game is a Netflix original drama, made in South Korea, but it’s dubbed into English. And unlike some shows where the dubbing leaves a little something to be desired, this is top-notch work. Viewers never forget the show was originally in Korean, but the voice actors, many of whom are experienced American voice actors of Korean background, are excellent. The show doesn’t suffer when watched in English.

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Some of the creepy guards in Squid Game have their own plotlines.


Netflix/Youngkyu Park

Will there be more of Squid Game?

All nine episodes of Squid Game are on Netflix already, so if you have nine hours to spare, go ahead and binge it. Content warning: This is a bloody, violent show. When people lose these innocent children’s games, they die, often horribly. It’s up to you if you want to see that in a nine-hour binge, or if you’re going to need to space out your watching and take mental health breaks.

Once you’ve watched the entire series, don’t hold out hope for a second season. Writer/director Hwang Dong-hyuk told Variety he may return to big-screen movies before thinking about a Squid Game sequel.

“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.”

If you like Squid Game, you might also like…

Squid Game has elements of The Hunger Games in its competition format. It’s also reminiscent of Battle Royale, a 2000 Japanese film where junior high school students must fight to the death using random weapons. It’s also somewhat like the 2014 film Snowpiercer, in which people fight to survive on a never-stopping train steaming through a frozen apocalyptic world. (Snowpiercer later became a TV series.) And the three-episode Japanese show, Alice in Borderland, features students transported into a parallel world where they must play games to survive.

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