Squid Game’s Parallel with Society Today

Annabella Agosto, Feature Editor


Photo courtesy of IMDb.com. 

An offer of 38.6 million dollars, and all you have to do is win six games. The catch? If you lose, you die. So what would happen if the offer was accepted? Squid Game, a South Korean Netflix original series created by Hwang Dong-hyuk, answers this question. 

Squid Game centers around a group of 456 players who have been recruited, because of their crippling financial hardship, to compete in a series of children’s games for the chance to win 45.6 billion won, or 38.6 million U.S. dollars. After the games begin, the players realize that the consequence of losing the games is instant death. This immediately changes the environment of the competition as bloody chaos ensues, alliances are formed and betrayed, and sacrifices are made. Along the way, the series touches on subjects such as economic inequality, debt, and the struggles that lower class family units go through in order to provide for themselves. 

One of the major themes throughout Squid Game is the class disparity in South Korea. A vast number of people in South Korea currently find themselves in a position similar to that of the main cast in that they are deep in debt, lacking the proper resources to provide for themselves and their families. This is part of a current overwhelming poverty rate of 17.4 percent in South Korea, and increasing, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). However, the U.S still remains higher on the scale with a poverty rate of 17.8 percent, ranking it third highest in the world. 

Because of this, American adolescents must remain aware of this factor and the precarious path of managing personal finances as they turn 18 and exit highschool. Evidence suggests “individuals who come out of education without a firm understanding of the consequences of the choices that they make end up eventually making bad choices,” says AP Economics teacher Jeremy Sargent. 

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Sargent.

“If you’re looking at family units, regardless of their composition, one of the things that stresses families most… [and] even just independent operators, individuals living by themselves, is the ability to provide for their material well being.” 

If losing money and risking your life while playing red light, green light doesn’t sound appealing, don’t worry! There are plenty of steps to managing money after graduation that will keep the cycle of debt the main characters of Squid Game face far away. Parents play a big role in this, according to Mr. Sargent, as it is “prudent on the part of parents to offer young people [the] opportunity [to manage their own money] as early as possible within certain limits.”  

In fact, explains Mr. Sargent, the Economics and Personal Finance class at Woodson is designed with the hope that “individuals can gradually ease their way into the real world where consequences are real, choices do matter, it’s not just words in a textbook.”