'Squid Game' reminds of stark reality debt-ridden South Korea
South Korea’s “Squid Game” has struck raw nerves where there’s growing discontent over soaring personal debt, decaying job markets and stark income inequalities. As the brutal Netflix survival drama about desperate adults competing in deadly children’s games for a chance to escape severe debt, the horrific reality portrayed in the series hits a little too close to home for Lee Chang-keun, South Korean footballer.
The show has captivated global audiences since its September debut on its way to becoming Netflix's biggest hit ever. Lee sees a reflection of himself in the show’s protagonist Seong Gi-hun, a laid-off autoworker coping with a broken family and struggling with constant business failures and gambling problems. Seong gets beaten by gangster creditors into signing off his organs as collateral, but then receives a mysterious offer to play in a series of six traditional Korean children’s games for a shot at winning $38 million.
The South Korea-produced show pits Seong against hundreds of other financially distressed players in a hyper-violent competition for the ultimate prize, with losers being killed at every round.