Clarksburg, Maryland, U.S.A. – As I watched participants in bright green tracksuits tremble as they carved shapes from crumbling Korean dalgona cookies, I couldn’t help but quake in fear myself.
I binged the smash Netflix hit, Squid Game within days of its initial release.
The premise of the show drew me in even before I started watching – hundreds of poor and indebted people playing deadly versions of children’s games to win unimaginable amounts of money.
The dark political undertones of the show were subtle, yet powerful, playing on the severe disparity between the rich and poor.
Participants are gunned down by men in red jumpsuits and black, painted masks in games of ‘Red Light, Green Light.’ They fall to their bloody deaths during ‘Tug of War,’ all while constantly being bet on by affluent ‘VIPs.’
Hundreds of deaths serve as entertainment for an elite few. The show did an incredible job using artistic venues to depict a shocking social commentary.
Bright contrasting colors and devastatingly dark cinematography made it impossible to tear my eyes away from the screen, despite the extreme gore and violence.
The colorful, almost childlike wonderland where the games take place is often seen splattered with the blood of contestants.
The humongous, brightly clothed doll used for ‘Red Light, Green Light’ resulted in the subsequent murder of over 200 people.
From the first episode, I found myself rooting for the show’s emotional and incredibly charming main character, Gi-hun.
As he plays through the six horrifying and gory games, his fellow players – some friends, some foes, all competitors – only add to the drama.
With Deok-su, an escaped cut-throat gang member; lovable, sweet migrant worker Ali and teenage North Korean defector Sae-byeok, the character dynamics prove to be almost as deadly and intriguing as the games themselves.
Each death tore through my heart, and each character served a purpose. After watching only a few episodes, I found that I enjoyed the character work in Squid Game so immensely because there are no filler characters. Every single person played a role in developing the dystopian scene.
As a short series of intense, masterfully crafted episodes, Squid Game was a shockingly good watch. It appeals to viewers all around the world – the emotion and stories are universal.
For those who aren’t afraid of copious amounts of violence and gore, the Korean drama is a must-watch.
Sreehitha Gandluri is a Senior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.