Victim of phone number exposure in ‘Squid Game’ entitled to compensation

Published October 14, 2021, 7:08 AM

by Jonathan Hicap

The head of the Korean government’s Personal Information Protection Commission (PIPC) said the person whose phone number was exposed in the global Netflix hit series “Squid Game” is entitled to compensation.

PIPC Chairperson Yoon Jong-in appeared before Korea’s National Assembly’s National Policy Committee for an audit of his commission on Oct. 13 and he was asked by a lawmaker regarding the inclusion of a phone number in “Squid Game.”

Korean business owner Kim Gil-young (left) is a victim of calls and text after her phone number was used in “Squid Game” (Screenshot from SBS News video, Netflix)

“Squid Game,” released on Netflix last Sept. 17, tells the story of 456 people who participate in deadly games with a 45.6 billion won ($38.4 million) prize at stake.

In the series, people are given calling cards with a phone number to call if they wish to participate in the game. In the first episode, Gong Yoo, who plays an unnamed character, gives Ki-hoon (played by Lee Jung-jae) a calling card.

The eight-digit phone number on the card was shown on “Squid Game” without the prefix “010,” which is used by mobile phone carriers in Korea. It turned out it is a real number and the person who uses it has suffered from seemingly endless calls and text messages from people including those who said they want to participate in the game.

However, Yoon said the exposure of the phone number in “Squid Game” is not a leak of personal data based on the law although it was done by negligence.

“In terms of legal interpretation, it is hard to see it as a leak of personal data, but there was indeed an exposure by negligence. If there were any actual damage by the exposure, it could be subject to a conflict resolution process or compensation,” he said, Yonhap News reported.

One victim told Korean media outlet Money Today that he has been using the phone number used in “Squid Game” for 10 years and “Since the airing of ‘Squid Game,’ I receive so many texts and calls 24 hours a day that my daily life has become difficult.”

“I have deleted more than 4,000 phone numbers until recently. My cell phone battery gets drained in half a day due to curious calls day and night without any concept of time,” Victim A added.

A Netflix official previously told SBS News that “we are working to resolve the issue amicably with the number owner.”

Last Oct. 6, Netflix said it would edit the scenes in “Squid Game” that show phone numbers.

Under PIPC’s personal information dispute mediation, “If there is a dispute concerned in personal information processing between parties, any person who wants a dispute mediation may apply for the mediation, and the contents of the application include suspension of the violation of laws, claiming compensation for damages or active exercise of rights to request access to personal information, to request corrections and deletions. Personal information dispute mediation includes the collective dispute mediation proceeding described below.”