[REVIEW] Netflix’s newest K-drama is “Hunger Games” reimagined

By Skylar Fondren

Staff Writer

No longer is it safe to move in a game of red light, green light. Instead, you could be risking death just for merely blinking. “Squid Game” is a new Netflix series that has sparked a lot of attention on the internet, and for good reason. The show is shocking and vicious, with characters the viewer will love one second and hate the next. There are eight episodes total, with each episode encompassing a different “game.” These child-like games take innocent fun and transform it into a bloodbath. 

Now, you may be wondering who would willingly take part in these games, and that is a good question. Consider someone who is in extreme debt, owing an impossible amount of money to men who have no qualms with dirtying their hands. These people, when faced with an opportunity to make back the money they owe and then some, might just be willing to risk it all to win big. 

Our main protagonist is a man by the name of Seong Gi-Hun. Gi-Hun has been laid off from work, lives with his elderly mother and is trying to make enough money to buy his daughter a birthday present. A greedy and terrible son to his mother, Gi-Hun steals her credit card and uses it to bet on horse racing with the hopes to win more money. After many losses, he finally manages to win ₩4.56 million Korean won, around $3,372 USD, which he flaunts to his friends. 

Unfortunately, this pretentiousness takes Gi-Hun straight into the lion’s den. Creditors who had been loaning him money for gambling hear of his big win and want their money back. After a gory scene involving punching noses and threats to take out kidneys, Gi-Hun is given a very short time to pay it back or else he will pay with his life. At the end of the day, Gi-Hun is desperate, alone, and without a way to pay off his enormous debts. This is when he meets a man who promises to give him a chance to win untold fortunes. Of course, nothing is as easy as it sounds and Gi-Hun isn’t the only person looking to make a quick million. 

 It is hard to effectively describe the brutality of this show. Unlike “Hunger Games” the people taking part in these games are not necessarily being forced to stay, but what other option do they have? All 456 of them have already signed away their lives because of their insurmountable debts. Their only options are to leave and be killed by loan sharks or stay and risk death but with the chance to win a large amount of money. 

Despite the death and gore portrayed, I absolutely loved this show. In a way it represents the cruelty of society and the illusion of choice. Sure, the players seemed to have a choice in whether or not they stayed, but they know if they leave it would be a death sentence. So, the only choice is to remain or die and that is not really a choice. 

The characters in this show are full of life and it is very hard to watch them go through each game not knowing if they will survive. Even the characters that most viewers despise have hidden stories that make you want to help them. On the flipside, some characters seem so incredibly innocent that when the truth is revealed you will wonder how they managed to deceive you so thoroughly. 

In this show, nothing is as it seems. There is very little to criticize other than the cliffhanger ending and a bold hairstyle choice. One disappointment that seems to be coming from many Korean-speaking viewers is that the English dubbed version of the show is inaccurate when compared to the original. However, us non-Korean viewers wouldn’t know the difference unless it was pointed out. There are also complaints about inaccessibility because Netflix did not release it with an English audio description option, which is usually the standard for any Netflix original show. However, the simple answer to that issue is that it is a Korean show, so the translations, captions and audio descriptions in other languages are not always immediately available. Other than that, this show has all the makings of an instant hit, and hopefully as more translations become available, even more people will be able to experience its pure craziness.