We all expected it, but now it’s official: Squid Game is Netflix’s most successful series debut ever.
In its first 28 days, the Korean drama drew 111 million viewers, pushing Bridgerton (82 million) from the top place.
Anyone who watches two minutes of a show on Netflix counts as a view.
The show’s success, according to Netflix’s vice president of programming for Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, is “beyond our wildest hopes.”
“We knew we wanted to produce world-class tales for the core K-content fans across Asia and the world when we first started investing in Korean series and films in 2015,” Minyoung Kim told CNN.
“Today, Squid Game has surpassed our wildest expectations.”
The nine-part series, which premiered in September, follows a bunch of misfits as they participate in a variety of kids’ playground games.
The reward is 45.6 billion Korean won (£28 million), which doesn’t seem like much until you consider that if you lose, you’ll be murdered.
Since its release, everyone has been talking about Squid Game, from celebrities to athletes.
So, what exactly is the key to its success?
What Has Made Squid Game So Popular?
The drama follows a group of people in South Korea who are severely in debt, similar to The Hunger Games or the 2000 film Battle Royale.
They’re duped (then volunteers) into participating in a fatal tournament of children’s games, knowing that it’s their last opportunity to win the money they need to survive.
Chloe Henry like Korean dramas and believes Squid Game stands out among them.
The 26-year-old from Sheffield tells Radio 1 Newsbeat, “It’s not something that’s been done before.”
“You can anticipate what’s going to happen on other programs, but this one is more ‘wow’ – a surprise you weren’t anticipating.”
She believes that the show’s characters and powerful acting keep you hooked.
“The actor who plays Seong Gi-feelings hun’s was so raw and intriguing to see,” says the director.
Seong Gi-hun is a lovable gambling addict who is drowning in debt and on the verge of losing his daughter. He is the primary character of the program.
The show, Chloe believes, also provides a distinct perspective on South Korea.
“People think of South Korea as a huge flashy nation with a lot of affluent people, so it’s wonderful to see the opposite side, like the hardship and poverty, that isn’t generally talked about.”
According to Dr Hye-Kyung Lee, who studies the emergence of K-drama and K-pop at King’s College London, the hardship depicted in Squid Game, like in the Oscar-winning Korean film Parasite, is what makes it appealing to a worldwide audience.
“These plays or films are engaging, and they have a special quality that may connect with people all around the world.”
“Through the characters, they provide a critique of society and social economic situations that people can connect to.”
Dr. Lee claims that while Korean dramas do touch on societal, economic, and political concerns, Squid Game takes a far more direct approach.
“It’s serious, the message is strong, and I believe it represents current events.”
That is something Chloe concurs with.
“Other Korean programs are often understated; they don’t depict blood, nudity, or blur out weaponry.”
“Being able to observe things and be unexpected is great.”