(Interview Yonhap) Simplicity and satire in ‘Squid Game’ woo viewers around the world: director

SEOUL, Sep 29 (Yonhap) – Hwang Dong-hyuk, writer-director of the hit Netflix series “Squid Game,” says the show’s worldwide popularity is something he never expected not.

“It’s just a surprise. It’s amazing that all of this excitement happened in a week,” Hwang said in an interview with online media on Tuesday. “As a designer, I am so thrilled that my work has captured the hearts of people around the world. It could be a once in a lifetime experience.”

The nine-episode life-or-death survival game thriller among the desperate people recently ended airing, generating a huge response from both Korean and overseas watchers.

It also became the first Korean TV series to top the ranking of Netflix’s most watched TV series in the United States, followed by streaming analytics company FlixPatrol.

Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of the global streaming giant, recently said the Korean show is on its way to becoming the company’s most successful original content in the world.

Asked what the key to the show’s global popularity was, his answer was short and clear: simplicity.

Hwang said he believes the “simplicity” of the games has helped people around the world immerse themselves in his characters and the storyline which satirizes a highly competitive society where more and more people are being pushed down without hope to make a turnaround.

“I also think people are drawn to the irony that desperate adults risk their lives to win a children’s game. The games are simple and easy, so viewers can focus more on each character rather than the rules. complex games. “

“Squid Game” presents a mysterious competition where hundreds of highly indebted people play desperately childish games at the risk of their lives in the hope of winning a total of 45.6 billion won ($ 3.8 million ) in price.

It revolves around Ki-hoon (Lee Jung-jae), a 40-year-old who fell to the bottom of the company after a commercial layoff, divorce and gambling addiction.

He and 455 other motley participants play traditional Korean children’s games, including “Red Light, Green Light,” a sugar honeycomb game and tug of war, in a closed complex built on an uninhabited island. The games are easy and straightforward, and the rewards are clearer: if you lose, you get killed.

This is the director’s first Netflix series, who has taken the lead in four feature films: “My Father” (2007), “Le Creuset” (2011), “Miss Mamie” (2014) and “La Forteresse” (2017).

He said that “Squid Game” was first conceived in 2008 while struggling with financial difficulties. Reading many survival genre films, novels and cartoons, like “The Hunger Games” and “Battle Royale,” he said, he wondered what it would be like if he took part in these games. of life or death or if it welcomed them.

“I think ‘Squid Game’ shares the framework and some stereotypical dramatic tools with these previous survival shows,” he said. “But its content and narrative are different from them.”

He said he wanted to write an allegory or fable of modern capitalist society which is cornering more and more people in extreme competition devised by a group of inhuman wealthy patrons.

Hwang’s draft script for “Squid Game” was first written for a feature film about ten years ago, but was turned down by local investors and production studios, citing its violence and its sensationalism.

About two years ago, he met Netflix, which has increased its investment in South Korean content with the goal of expanding its subscriber base throughout Asia, and decided to create an original series in nine. parts.

However, it was not easy to pull off such a long project with a total duration of eight hours, even for the prolific filmmaker.

“I’m a director used to making a two-hour movie. It was so difficult to make an eight-hour series,” Hwang said, adding that he lost six teeth while filming “Squid Game.” “But I knew that a TV series can be more influential than a movie, because it catches the eye of viewers on the screen in a deeper and longer way.”

Regarding the growing demand for a second season, Hwang said he now has no detailed plan but remains open to the possibility.

“There are a lot of untold stories, like the past history of hosts and game keepers. These will be featured next season,” he said. “Nothing has been determined yet. But there are possibilities.”

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