- Netflix’s South Korean drama “Squid Game” follows people competing for money in violent games.
- Creator Hwang Dong-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.
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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.
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 doll was reportedly borrowed for filming “Squid Game” and then returned. According to Koreaboo, the doll guards the entrance of a horse-carriage museum.
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.
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.
Since the show’s release, both the Japanese thriller series “Alice in Borderland” and Korean drama “Sweet Home” have been trending on Netflix.
“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.”
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.”
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.
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 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.”
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.”
“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.