The director of the popular South Korean series, Squid Game, Hwang Dong-hyuk has revealed how his own life served as an inspiration for the lead characters in the show. Squid Game premiered on September 17 and has since taken the world by surprise, quickly becoming the most popular show on Netflix in several countries across the world. The series sees a group of cash-strapped people as they compete with each other in various children’s games in a hope of winning a huge cash prize.
Director Dong-hyuk opens up about Squid Game
As the success of the series continues to rage, Dong-hyuk has started opening up about Squid Game. It was earlier revealed by Dong-hyuk that Squid Game became its development around a decade before it premiered on Netflix. However, Squid Game premiered at about the right time period where competition, capitalism, and social inequality are widely scrutinized subjects. Despite the circumstances in the series, the audience is able to come across characters that are relatable in their desperation, financial conditions, and willingness to take risks. A part of this may have stemmed from the fact that there were indeed real-life inspirations behind the series.
Squid Game’s lead characters were inspired by Dong-hyuk’s own life
In a recent interview with CNN, Dong-hyuk revealed that all main characters in Squid Game were inspired own life experiences. He revealed that Sang-woo and Gi-hun were named after two of his actual friends, whom he described as his “inner clones.” Both of the characters’ stories have some resemblance to Dong-hyuk’s own early life. Like the characters, Dong-hyuk originates from a financially struggling region in South Korea, and just like Sang-Woo, he went to Korea’s prestigious University and became his neighborhood’s pride. Here’s his statement:
“They [Seong Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo] represent the two sides of me. Like Gi-hun, I was raised by a single mother in a financially troubled environment in Ssangmun-dong. At the same time, like Sang-woo, I went to Seoul National University and my entire neighborhood praised me and had high expectations of me.”
Dong-hyuk’s personal connection with the series gives its setting and characters more significance. His decision to make use of an actual neighborhood in Seoul, Ssangmun-dong, for Squid Game’s setting reflects the actual social inequality and class strife that exists within South Korea, and in other major cities across the world. Dong-hyuk’s financial struggles and stories of childhood while creating the show reveals how realistic the concept of the show is. Sang-woo and Gi-hun aren’t simply fictional characters but are just written off of the reality of growing up in a lower socio-economic region with a burden of high expectations.
Dong-hyuk’s story lives on in the series and adds awareness and recognition to themes of negative consequences and inequity of capitalism.