Netflix’s new Korean drama Squid Game has surprised the world. It presently stands at the number one spot after premiering about two weeks prior on the streaming giant. Since the time its release, the South Korean drama is rounding up viewership globally at a quick pace so much that it may outperform Bridgerton to become the greatest Netflix show of all time.
Squid Game was released on 17 September and in only two days, it entered the top 10 shows internationally. In any case, the next day, the gory thriller was at Number 2 before taking the Number 1 spot on 21 September.
Released just a fortnight back, the South Korean series Squid Game has as of now surprised the world.
It has hit number one on Netflix in an incredible 90 countries, including Australia.
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told a conference in Los Angeles this week that the show would “definitely” be the streaming platform’s biggest non-English language show in the world.
“It’s only been out for nine days, and it’s a very good chance it’s going to be our biggest show ever,” he added.
So, what is Squid Game?
Furthermore, will it be your gateway drug to other South Korean dramas?
As indicated by Variety, this series as of now stands at Number 1 worldwide on the streaming service platform.
“We did not see that coming, in terms of its global popularity,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s co-CEO said in an appearance at Vox Media’s Code Conference at the Beverly Hilton.
Sarandos said that high-concept Korean survival drama has a very [big] chance of becoming the greatest Netflix show of all time.
Besides, in the conference, Sarandos shared two slides where one showed the most famous Netflix shows while the other displayed the complete time spent viewing by hours within the initial 28-day window. Additionally, the first slide was completely based on the proprietary metric of accounts that selected a given title in the first 28 days of its release.
According to the graph, Squid Game is soon going to become the greatest non-English-language Netflix show. At present, Bridgerton is at the top of the streaming giant’s most popular shows with a record of 82 million. Followed by Lupin Part 1, The Witcher Season 1, Sex/Life Season 1, and Season 3 of Stranger Things.
Besides, Sarandos likewise informed that through these slides and figures, they are being more transparent with the ability and the market. He likewise recognized Netflix’s streaming information as ‘a big black box, mostly’.
Before January, Netflix had declared that Bridgerton became the greatest show ever after the Shonda Rhimes drama was released on Christmas day.
For the unversed, Squid Game is a violent survival drama with masterful cliffhangers in every episode. The nine-part series is the first Korean original series to get a top spot on Netflix.
What is Squid Game?
It’s a nine-episode series about obliged individuals entering a high-stakes survival game on a remote island in the desire for winning a tremendous cash prize.
Squid Game’s protagonist is Seong Gi-hun, played by Lee Jung-Jae, a struggling chauffeur who takes from his mother to fund a gambling addiction and who can’t afford a birthday present for his daughter.
The “game” starts with 456 competitors, and everything except one is “eliminated” — as such, fiercely murdered — across six deceptively straightforward children’s games.
That one person stands to win 45.6 billion Won — more than $53 million.
Squid Game has been compared with everything from the Japanese gore thriller Battle Royale, to The Hunger Games series and fellow Netflix original Alice in Borderland.
Similar to director Bong Joon-ho’s ridiculously successful 2019 black comedy Parasite, the Squid Game series additionally offers social commentary about contemporary South Korea.
“I wanted to write a story that was an allegory or fable about modern capitalist society. Something that depicts an extreme competition, somewhat like the extreme competition of life,” director Hwang Dong-hyuk told Variety.
“As a survival game, it is entertainment and human drama.
“The games portrayed are extremely simple and easy to understand.”
What is K-drama?
K-drama refers to a loose genre of Korean-language shows made in South Korea.
Romance is often a common thread all through numerous K-dramas, which commonly have high production value and investment in costumes, as per Nam Jayasinghe, Melbourne-based editor of The K-Drama Roo blog.
Since the 1990s, the South Korean government has invested greatly into sending out its popular culture — from K-dramas and K-pop to food and fashion.
How successful has that been?
Indeed, one sign is that the Korean boy band BTS just performed at the United Nations.
BTS have repeatedly topped the charts not only in Asia but in the US, UK, and Australia, as well.
So while Squid Game’s tremendous achievement seems to have appeared suddenly, its popularity expands on a gigantic, existing transnational fanbase for everything Korean.
Why has Squid Game become so popular?
Pundits have loved Squid Game as much as the audience.
It has an ideal rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Jo Elfving-Hwang, director of the Korea Research Centre of Western Australia, said Squid Game keenly consolidates elements of both K-drama and Korean film.
The theme of being disabled by debt would be “infinitely recognizable for a lot of Korean audiences [and] I think this is recognizable to people elsewhere”, Dr. Elfving-Hwang said.
“If you look at Australia, for example, people have large levels of debt.”
Different shows that are not in English, similar to France’s Lupin and the Spanish series Money Heist, have likewise captivated viewers internationally.
Some say that as Hollywood pumps out unlimited changes and superhero films, individuals are searching for content that is new and unique.
“We want creative, original stories and we’re not finding it in big franchise productions,” Cynthia Wang, a pop culture writer, told ABC radio.
“We’re looking at streamers like Netflix to provide this for us and Netflix, in turn, is finding that kind of stuff on local production from all around the world.”
Ms. Jayasinghe first got into K-drama in 2016 when she ran out of things to watch on Netflix and started watching a show called Beating Again.
She said at the time it was hard to track down other K-dramas in Australia, yet that the amount of Korean content on Netflix had since detonated.
“Netflix has obviously cottoned on to that demand.”
Netflix’s attention on global content has paid off amazingly with Squid Game, which has established itself as the #1 show in its home country of Korea and Netflix’s home country of the United States, as well as presently, the show is #1 in at least 90 different countries around the world.
Various tracking sites attempt to quantify what’s performing great in various nations throughout the world through Netflix’s top 10 list. One can be seen here, where Squid Game is the #1 show for each country with only one or two exceptions. One would be Denmark, which has made the Danish serial killer series, Chestnut Man, number one instead.
Squid Game season 2 is right around an assurance now, given the ending of the series which intensely infers the games will proceed. Yet, while one man, Hwang Dong-Hyuk, composed and directed each episode of season 1, he has very publicly stated that he will require extra writing and directing help for season 2. Most likely Netflix will get him absolutely anything he needs.
Squid Game has become such a hit that fans are presently watching TikTok videos to learn how to make Squid Game related-candy (a plot point in the show), and selling merchandise that is inspired by the series, similar to Halloween costumes, throw pillows, and business cards. In South Korea, Squid Game is so highly watched that a nearby Internet provider is demanding Netflix pay for the tremendous increment in bandwidth use generated by people streaming the show.
Are we all going to become K-drama fans?
Netflix, which hosts a colossal library of K-drama content, is unquestionably assisting with Korea’s soft power push.
The organization said toward the start of 2021 it would spend $US500 million ($695 million) on Korean content this year.
A representative for Netflix told ABC there was “lots more to come from Korea”.
“It’s one of our biggest content markets,” they said.
Crash Landing on You, a series about a South Korean woman who gets stuck in North Korea and falls in love with an army officer, was one more colossal success outside of Korea.
However, a large number of the popular K-dramas are incredibly different in tone to Squid Game.
They are often “pure escapism” with a predictable story arc, where everything comes great eventually, said Dr. Elfving-Hwang.
A lack of otherwise explicit content is frequently clarified as the explanation of K-drama’s appeal for socially conservative audiences in Asia and Latin America, where they are as of now big business.
Ms. Jayasinghe reckons, however, that the startling sets, costumes, and music of Squid Game will support interest in Korean content for different audiences.
“It scares you so much, you’re going to remember those games for a long time,” she said.
“It makes you want to explore Korean culture a bit more.”
The ending of Squid Game sets things up for a second season, and there is lots of chatter about a follow-up.
Yet, given Hwang Dong-hyuk started writing Squid Game in 2008, it very well may be some time before season two is released.
“I don’t have well-developed plans for Squid Game 2,” he said in his Variety interview.
“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.”
Before then, at that point, we may very well have to get into the plenitude of other Korean TV and film on offer.