This ‘Squid Game’ puts ₱1.98B up for grabs

Published September 15, 2021, 2:37 PM

by Seven Bueno

…and these Koreans are risking their lives to win it all

Writer-director Hwang Dong Hyuk was accompanied by actors Lee Jung Jae, Park Hae Soo, Jung Ho Yeon, Hae Sung Tae, and Wi Ha Jun in today’s APAC press conference for Netflix Korea’s newest original series called “Squid Game.”

Writer-director Hwang Dong Hyuk was accompanied by actors Lee Jung Jae, Park Hae Soo, Jung Ho Yeon, Hae Sung Tae, and Wi Ha Jun in today’s APAC press conference for Netflix Korea’s newest original series called “Squid Game.”

The director and the main stars of ‘Squid Game’ (Netflix)

“Squid Game” is a Netflix original Korean series produced by Siren Pictures Inc. about hundreds of cash-strapped players accepting a strange invitation to compete against each other in what seems to be like a harmless children’s game. While in the game, 456 players battle it out risking their lives to win 45.6 Billion Won (approximately ₱1.98B).

Writer-director Hwang revealed that the first draft of this series was completed back in 2008, right after his debut as a director. He wanted to make a comic-book-like story series in Korea but, at the time, it was just too unfamiliar and some people thought it to be too complicated of a story (although squid game is a famous pastime played by children across their country). Inevitably, the story had to be shelved for a decade due to the lack of funding to make the series possible.

Just this year, the draft finally resurfaced and it is a story that looks to be more relevant to people all over the world now and not just in Korea. Writer-director Hwang relates the game to life, a challenge where everyone is highly competitive, where every person comes from very different backgrounds and with their respective struggles.

Lee Jung Jae, a familiar face we’ve seen in countless Korean dramas and movies since 1993, says that there were just such different emotions and feelings he wanted to experience and portray in the series while reading the script, which got him interested to be part of the production.

From left: Host Park Kyung-Lim, Actor Lee Jung Jae, and Actor Park Hae Soo (Netflix)

Park Hae Soo, who we will also see as Berlin in the Korean remake of “Money Heist,” is a huge fan of Jung Jae and Director Hwang, and was very interested in working with them in the series.

Heo Sung Tae, who we’ve seen in “Reply 1994,” “Liver or Die,” “Racket Boys,” and many other award-winning K-dramas, has enjoyed working with Director Hwang in previous projects. The upcoming series was a reunion for the two.

Jung Ho Yeon, who is dubbed by Vogue to be Korea’s next top model, flew back to Seoul from New York and left her preparations for Fashion Week because of this series. She claims to have been so hooked to the script that she finished reading the whole story in one night. She prepared for her role so much, going through acting workshops and learning North Korean dialects.

From left: Park Kyung Lim, Lee Jung Jae, Park Hae Soo, Jung Ho Yeon, Heo Sung Tae, Wi Ha Jun, Hwang Dong Hyuk (Netflix)

Wi Ha Jun was impressed and fascinated by how this children’s game was portrayed in such a bolder and fiercer way. As the youngest of the men in the conference, he was also very honored to be chosen by Hwang to play such a crucial role in the series. He was also teased during the conference about his sweet sounding ASMR-like voice, which (jokingly) got him the role.

When it comes to the set and production, both the actors and crew can attest that whatever you see on the screen is mostly real. From the stunts, the people, and the set, there’s barely any CGI involved in this series. The music as well as the design for the show is set up in a way that brings back a sense of ‘70s and ‘80s Korean wave nostalgia. Hwang thanks and gives credit to the musical director of the series for paying so much attention to details, from pre-recording down to the ultimate score we hear accompanying the visuals of the action-packed series.

The actors and Director Hwang shared a good amount of information getting us really excited as to what we’re set to see this Friday, when “Squid Game” premieres globally. Several questions, however, remain: Will there be (enough) bloodshed? Who stands out the wisest? Who will emerge victorious?

All our questions, to be sure, will be answered this Sept. 17. The “Squid Game” is ready. All they’re waiting for is you.


Catch “Squid Game” this Friday exclusively on Netflix.

 
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