While popular South Korean drama ‘Squid Game’ may be holding the #1 spot in over 90 countries and is on track to becoming Netflix’s biggest ever show, the script was rejected for over 10 years by local studios before being chosen by the American streaming giant.
Premise of Squid Game, which has been a streaming sensation since arriving on Netflix on September 17, revolves around 456 desperate and heavily in-debt adults competing with each other in a mysterious and deadly survival tournament.
The contestants competed by playing various traditional Korean children’s games on a secluded island. However, losers in the different rounds of games die while a single winner emerges with a cash prize of about 45.6 billion won ($40 million).
Since its premiere, the show has become the most-watched series on Netflix in multiple countries and received overwhelmingly positive reception.
In fact, predictions show that Squid Game is on its way to becoming Netflix’s most-watched series, defeating Brigerton which currently holds the spot.
Some viewers have even described the period drama as a horrifying and even questioned whether the dystopian show, which sheds light on staggering wealth inequalities, was in fact real.
However, before achieving such feat, the drama was for a decade rejected by local studios for being too grotesque and unrealistic.
In an interview with The Korea Times, Squid Game director, Hwang Dong-hyuk revealed that the series took over a decade to pitch due to its premise.
Also, while writing the story back in 2009, the film director and screenwriter was living with his mother and grandmother and had to halt on scriptwriting at one point as he was forced to sell his $675 laptop for money, Wall Street Journal reports.
Hwang Dong-hyuk, a Korean Filmmaker is a name that screams revolution in Korean cinema. Hwang has never delved into easy subjects but found comfort in triggering the uncomfortable issues around him and making films about social issues.
His second movie The Crucible (Silenced), was about the scandal at Gwangju Inhwa School for the deaf in South Korea – an institution known for abusing students. The movie went on to bring a massive revolution against child abuse.
For Squid Game, Director Dong-hyuk first came up with the concept in 2008 and wrote the script the following year. But little did he know his ambitious and worthy script would have to face rejections for 10 long years.
During his interview, Director Dong-hyuk said;
Making the story into the series was still an adventure, just as it was about a decade ago. I knew that it would be all or nothing; either a masterpiece or a quirky flop. The idea behind this work was very experimental. So I would keep on asking myself if audiences will find it convincing that the characters are risking their lives to play children’s games.
He further stated;
After about 12 years, the world has changed into a place where such peculiar, violent survival stories are actually welcomed. The series’ games that participants go crazy over align with people’s desires to hit the jackpot with things like cryptocurrency, real estate and stocks. So many people have been able to empathize with the story.
Finally in 2019, Netflix took an interest in Hwang’s project, and in that same year, the project was given the green light.
The revelation about how long it took before the script became a reality comes as a disappointment to fans who had high prospect of a second series. Director Dong-hyuk hinted he won’t be rushing to make another series after describing the creative process for the first one as draining.
In a recent interview about the prospect of a sequel, the Korean series creator admitted it took him six months to work on just the first two episodes of Squid Game, and exhaustion took the best of him.
In my earlier days, I’d drink half a bottle of soju (Korean liquor) to get the creative juices flowing. I can’t do that any more. Writing (‘Squid Game’) was harder than normal for me as it was a series, not a film. It took me six months to write and rewrite the first two episodes. Then I consulted verbally with friends, and picked up clues for improvements through my own pitching and from their responses.
Despite the gruelling process of writing and rejections, the Korean-language thriller is now one of the most popular releases on Netflix and is the first-ever Korean series to land at number one on the platform.
In fact, the staggering steaming numbers might have caused some trouble for Netflix as a broadband provider in South Korea is suing the streaming platform, due to the hit show causing a traffic surge.
Have you seen Squid Game? If yes, what are your thoughts? If no, it’s streaming on Netflix.
Via Korean Times, IGN and Wall Street Journal.