'Squid Game' Director Awed by Success of Netflix Show

  • By Lee Hai-woon

    September 29, 2021 12:31

    Dystopian thriller series "Squid Game" is taking global audiences by storm, becoming the most-watched Netflix show in 76 countries as of Tuesday.

    "'Squid Game' will definitely be our biggest non-English language show in the world," Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told reporters Monday, adding there is a "very good chance it's going to be our biggest show ever."

    The show's writer and director Hwang Dong-hyuk, who first came up with the idea back in 2008, said he is thrilled. "I never imagined it becoming this big hit. I feel like I'm dreaming," he told the Chosun Ilbo on Tuesday.

    Hwang said it took this long for the series to hit the screen because "it was considered too knotty and bizarre at the time. It's sad, but the world has changed to suit such a far-fetched story. The game is played by people eyeing quick riches, just like speculating on cyber money, real estate and stocks."

    Hwang said he was cash-strapped himself in 2008 and spent most of his time reading comic books and novels. Among them were Japanese manga "Liar Game" and "Gambling Apocalypse" and YA fantasy "The Hunger Games," from which he got his inspiration.

    Hwang Dong-hyuk (left) directs Lee Jung-jae on the set of "Squid Game." /Courtesy of Netflix

    Answering criticism that he plagiarized them, Hwang said, "The biggest difference is that the other works focus on the game rather than people, but people are more in focus in 'Squid Game,' and there are no winners, heroes or geniuses in my story. It's a movie about losers."

    He said the series would have been impossible without Netflix. "Where could I have filmed this series without any limitations on format, running time and level of violence?"

    Netflix "supported me all the way since it heard the pitch, and I've never felt so comfortable on a project." He has previously directed such hit movies as "The Crucible" in 2011, "Miss Granny" in 2013 and "The Fortress" in 2017.

    Asked if he regrets that he cannot make any residuals from Netflix, Hwang said, "I would be lying if I said I have no regrets, but I knew that when I started and am extremely grateful for the overwhelming global response."

    Hwang said he could consider another season after taking a break and filming a movie. "I lost six teeth filming Season 1, so I'll probably have to wear dentures after filming Season 2," he said.

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