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The Untold Truth Of Squid Game

You never know what might catch on in the zeitgeist next. Sure, you can always expect the latest superhero movie to make a splash, but sometimes, an original property manages to break through the noise and blow up on social media. For 2020, that was arguably Netflix's "Tiger King." People couldn't stop talking about all of the crazy people who were obsessed with big cats. 2021 has more than had its fair share of hits, but none have caught on quite like "Squid Game." 

The unusually-titled Netflix show has been memed up and down all of social media. You can't go on TikTok without finding people making jokes about the game of Red Light, Green Light featured on the first episode. And it's already become one of the most-watched original series on the streaming platform (via Fox Business). Even if you've already watched every episode available, there's still probably quite a bit you don't know. Here's everything you need to know about the untold truth of "Squid Game."

It took over a decade for Squid Game to get made

It's easy to refer to something as an "overnight success." But the truth is that every actor or TV show that seemingly comes out of nowhere likely worked their butt off for years before even finding a modicum of relevancy. The violence and social commentary offered by "Squid Game" would make it seem like a no-brainer in the aftermath of projects like "Parasite." However, the genesis of this story came about in 2008, and it took well over a decade for the show's creator, Hwang Dong-hyuk, to find a home for it. 

He discussed to The Korea Times how he came up with the idea in 2008 after reading a comic book with a similar premise. He pitched it to various locations over the years, but no one wanted to take a chance on the violent plot. He commented, "After about 12 years, the world has changed into a place where such peculiar, violent survival stories are actually welcomed. People commented on how the series is relevant to real life. Sadly, the world has changed in that direction." It just goes to show — persistence is key.

Squid Game was originally conceived as a movie

The nine episodes of Season 1 of "Squid Game" seem ideal for being a TV show. The premise follows a group of contestants tasked with competing in a series of children's games. In the event a person loses a game, they're executed. They play one game a day for six days, so it's hard to imagine how all of that would be condensed within a span of two hours. 

However, that's exactly what Hwang Dong-hyuk wanted to do initially. As published in Variety, he conceived the project as a feature film and how a need to differentiate it from other properties led to the use of kids' games. "When I started, I was in financial straits myself and spent much time in cafes reading comics including 'Battle Royale' and 'Liar Game,' he explains. "I came to wonder how I'd feel if I took part in the games myself. But I found the games too complex, and for my own work focused instead on using kids' games."

Hwang Dong-hyuk has a history of making movies. He wrote and directed such Korean films as "Silenced" and "Miss Granny," but by leaps and bounds, "Squid Game" is his most successful project to date.

The phone number featured in the first episode actually belongs to someone

The pilot episode of "Squid Game" sets up the violent premise. It begins with our protagonist, Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), receiving the opportunity to play a game to win some money. After succeeding, he receives a business card with a phone number and the promise that he has the chance to win even more money by simply playing some games. For American audiences, it can be easy to gloss over phone numbers featured in movies and TV shows since they usually contain "555" somewhere in there. They're obviously fake, but that's not the case with "Squid Game."

The number in question belongs to Gil-Young Kim, who lives in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea (via Bustle). Ever since the show debuted on Netflix on September 17, he's been inundated with calls and texts from people punching in the number. He apparently received thousands of calls and texts every single day, and it's gotten so bad that he's resorted to taking sleeping pills so that he can slumber as his phone goes off all through the night. 

It's unclear if the team behind "Squid Game" could face any repercussions for wreaking havoc on an innocent man's life; however, relief may come in a different form. Huh Kyung-young, who's running for president of South Korea, has offered the man $85,000 to get his hands on the phone number (via South China Morning Post).

The Squid Game doll is real

One of the most iconic images of "Squid Game" is the doll from the first episode. She's a robot that detects movement from any players if they continue to move after she shouts "Red light." After that ... some unpleasantness occurs.

That wasn't any Hollywood CGI on display. That's a real doll that you could actually find in real life for a while. Once the doll had finished its use during filming, it was displayed in front of a museum known as Macha Land, located in Jincheon County, about three hours outside of Seoul (via Newsweek). Photos had been uploaded of the doll online, and for some reason, it was missing one of its hands. As of right now, the figurine's since been taken away.

Of course, wherever there's something popular, imitators are bound to arise. In the aftermath of the show's success, a replica of the doll was placed outside a mall in the Philippines. We wonder how many people stopped walking as soon as they saw this thing staring at them.

Squid Game has spawned various TikTok trends

It's one thing for a show to receive trophies and critical praise. Those are all nice. But the highest honor a Netflix show can receive is to become a meme on social media, and by those metrics, "Squid Game" has run away from the rest of the competition. You just have to go on TikTok to see what a success it has become. 

One such meme involves the dalgona cookie. This is a traditional Korean sweet that's made using sugar and baking soda. You create a cookie and then outline a basic shape, like a circle or square. The objective is to remove the profile from the cookie without breaking it. Of course, in the world of "Squid Game," failure to take out the shape has fatal consequences, but that isn't stopping people from having more lighthearted fun with it on the platform. If you've been looking for your own content to make, "Squid Game" offers ample inspiration.