Squid Game: Unmasking the intellectual depth & hidden meanings behind the Netflix phenomenon

"Squid Game was a thrilling and appealing show with great character foils and character development along with plot twists and tons of drama." - Arts & Entertainment Editor / Al Harmon.

Spoiler Alert: For those who have not yet seen the show, this article contains spoilers.

By now, the internet has exploded with a standing ovation for the most popular Netflix series show to date. TikTok is hopping on the trends in dance videos doing “red light, green light” and humorously licking the Korean dalgona cookie rapidly to break it apart successfully. “The Tonight Show” host, Jimmy Fallon, participated in the trend with a remake of the outfit, number, and cookie. Be warned that there are spoilers in this review, explaining the intellectual meaning behind the plot. 

Troubled participants of the Squid Game harshly found out during the first round that if you moved during a red light or green light you were shot and killed. This wasn’t exactly what they had signed up for. Most of them would agree to forfeit the games because the majority knew that risking their lives was not worth it. However, once they all saw the cash prize total on the big screen, the contestants reconsidered. 

If you are someone who does not catch on to the meaning of something, then you didn’t see the ending’s twist coming. The real person behind the entire game was the happy, smiley, and joyful elderly man by the name of Oh II-nam. His character grew a strong bond with his competitor and the main character of the show, Seong Gi-Hun.

Seong felt bad for Oh II-nam because of how old he was and knowing that he had a brain tumor. Oh II-nam always put his best foot forward in each round knowing that he would survive the games. He wanted to feel true excitement again since he hadn’t felt real enthusiasm in a long time. It seems like a bizarre way to have fun, right? Since people are competing with their lives at stake. This goes to show what an immense amount of money does to people. 

The reason why the old man chose to be behind these games was that he missed having fun. As a child, he played a lot, and competing in the games brought back the joy of his childhood that was lost in old age and accumulated wealth. The major theme of money not solving your life’s issues was prevalent throughout the show. 

Those times of laughter and excitement seemed to have been lost in his life. That is why he decided to participate in the games rather than watch them for entertainment like his extremely wealthy “VIP” colleges. These filth-rich elites used these games for betting and entertainment while taking in desperate people, who had hundreds, thousands, and even millions of Korean Won in debt, to play these games with their lives at stake. 

This series has an intellectual meaning behind it because it reflects every person’s character. The old man simply wanted to have fun and, till his last breath, he played a game with his former team player Seong Gi-hun who won the game. Seong played a character who wasn’t the best son or best father in the world. He knew his daughter deserved a better father like her stepdad, a successful and reliable person. The old man claimed that he wanted him to win because they became buddies throughout the games and stuck by him. When all the players had to choose a partner for the round, Seong chose Oh II-nam. 

Seong’s main enemy towards the end of the series was his childhood friend Cho Sang-Wee. He was pretending to seem like a good person who ultimately only looked out for himself, making him secretly the main antagonist of the show. The characters trusted him and saw him as a leader, but as the show progressed the viewers realized he wasn’t the man everyone thought of him as.

The viewers saw this before the characters, which led to the betrayal of all the genuine people in the show ironically. He ended up manipulating and killing Ali, the most selfless player, once Ali truly believed he had built up trust and friendship. Then, he goes on to kill Sae-byeok with the excuse that she is already dying and he wants to save her from misery. 

Seong knew, excuse my French, of the bastard he was dealing with. When it came down to the last fight between Seong and backstabber Cho Sang-Wee, it was a brutal and painful fight to watch. Cho stabbed Soeng in the hand and leg. Not too long after he ended up killing himself, stabbing himself in the neck. Seong did not cross the finish line because he showed remorse towards Cho Sang-Wee since they happened to be childhood friends.

The show ironically brought the characters back to playing the same game that they played as children., but now their lives and 45 billion won were at stake. Cho’s last words were, “My mom, my mom.” Seong knew that he would generously give Cho-Sang-Wee’s mother a portion of his fortune to help her out. 

“Squid Game” was a thrilling and appealing show with great character foils and character development along with plot twists and tons of drama. The way the show played with people’s hearts as these desperate characters grew bonds and broke bonds through a twisted competition of life and death made this show the most viewed Netflix series to date. The show still has a massive influence on today’s pop culture and season two will be much anticipated.

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