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The Sang-Woo Detail That's Darker Than You Think In Squid Game Episode 2

The following article contains mentions of suicide and spoilers for Season 1 – Episode 2 of "Squid Game."

Netflix original series "Squid Game" contains universal elements that explore human despair, the exploitative qualities of capitalism, and the weaknesses of modern society. However, as a Korean drama, it also displays symbolism that viewers outside the culture may not understand without some explanation. Fortunately, modern society also has certain strengths, including the connection of people with different viewpoints and experiences through the internet. That's why, with titles like "Squid Game," Reddit is a useful resource for fans who want to soak in every detail of the story. 

You can watch and enjoy "Squid Game" without understanding these nuances, but seeing the full picture adds more dimension and can deepen your connection to the tale. In a thread started on September 23 by u/DawnGoAway84, viewers familiar with Korean life and history offered tidbits to enlighten other fans of the series. One of the posts focuses on a scene in Episode 2, titled "Hell," featuring Gi-hun's childhood friend, Sang-woo (Hae-soo Park), which illustrates the man's despair in subtle ways.

The charcoal briquette shows Sang-woo was going to commit suicide

Sang-woo's story is easily as tragic as his friend Gi-hun's. He's considered a neighborhood legend for attending Seoul University with a degree in Business Administration, but finds himself in dire straits after committing some financial crimes: basically, he stole money from his clients and lost it in the stock market. Not only does he stand to lose his reputation and freedom, he could lose his mother's fish market business — and her home.

After fleeing from arrest and leaving his mother to find out about the problem through the police, "Squid Game" shows Sang-woo sitting in a bathtub drinking soju. The camera first zooms in on a charcoal briquette before panning to Sang-woo. Redditor u/lifechainged explained the significance of this. "The briquette burning next to him is a means for him to commit suicide," the user noted. "Briquettes are a sign of poverty as back in the day, Koreans didn't have electricity. They're basically compressed coal that's used as fuel. It's also commonly used for Koreans to commit suicide as being in a space with the fumes causes death." According to a case report from the Medical Journal of Australia, burning charcoal in a closed area can result in carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Earlier, Sang-woo's mother proudly told a shop visitor about her son's education, which prompted the guest to ask if he was single and in need of matching up. Her expression upon hearing that he went to Seoul University said it all. u/lifechainged revealed, "Getting into these schools is extremely hard, but every student has a shot by studying and getting good scores on Korea's national standardized test, Suneung. Basically, as we saw in the entire series, for Sang-woo to have gotten into the business school at Seoul University was his golden ticket to lift him and his family up financially and socially." Thus, juxtaposing Sang-woo's seemingly brilliant future with his current situation "is especially cruel and a sign of hopelessness." However, Sang-woo's suicide attempt is interrupted when the doorbell rings and he is recruited for the Squid Game.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.