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How Much Money Did Squid Game's Creator Really Make From Netflix?

The acclaimed Netflix series "Squid Game" has become one of the most successful shows in TV history, with millions upon millions of fans tuning in and even more being collected in revenue by the streaming giant. According to Bloomberg, nearly $900 million in "impact value" was produced by the hit survival drama. So naturally, people would assume that creator Hwang Dong-hyuk — who originally envisioned his story as a movie –would see a massive chunk of this performance-related change. But that's apparently not the case. 

"I'm not that rich," he told The Guardian in a recent interview. "But I do have enough. I have enough to put food on the table." Leaked documents obtained by the British media outlet show just how much money Dong-hyuk missed out on thanks to a small detail in his contract. According to the Guardian, "Squid Game" cost just over $21 million to make. That's nearly a $1 billion total profit for Netflix. So why wasn't Dong-hyuk able to make a killing as well? 

There was no performance-related clause in Hwang Dong-hyuk's contract

Unfortunately for "Squid Game" creator Hwang Dong-hyuk, there was no clause or requirement in his contract with Netflix that would have paid him extra if the series performed well, the Guardian reports. 

"It's not like Netflix is paying me a bonus," Dong-hyuk told the outlet. "Netflix paid me according to the original contract." It's unclear exactly what Dong-hyuk made exactly, only that it likely should have been a lot more on account of all the stress he went through writing and directing "Squid Game." 

"It was physically, mentally and emotionally draining," Dong-hyuk said. "I kept having new ideas and revising the episodes as we were filming so the amount of work multiplied." According to Dong-hyuk, his inspiration for "Squid Game" came from his own personal experiences with his family during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. "I was very financially straitened because my mother retired from the company she was working for," Dong-hyuk remembered. "There was a film I was working on but we failed to get finance. So I couldn't work for about a year. We had to take out loans — my mother, myself and my grandmother." 

Netflix is still streaming "Squid Game" on all of its international platforms.