Is Netflix’s Squid Game Based on a True Story?

Written and directed by Dong-hyuk Hwang, Netflix’s ‘Squid Game’ is an action-adventure web series. It revolves around Seong Gi-hun or Ki-hoon (Jung-jae Lee), who takes part in a deadly game hoping to win ₩45.6 billion (US$40 million). Life hasn’t been particularly kind to Gi-hun. His business failed; his marriage didn’t work out; he is so addicted to gambling that he steals from his mother; and he has accumulated a large amount of debt by taking money from the banks and private investors. One day, he meets a well-dressed man in the subway. The latter asks him to play a children’s game with him. After losing several rounds, when he finally wins, Gi-hun earns ₩100,000.

Before leaving, the mysterious man gives Gi-hun a card, telling him if he wants to play more games and win more money, he can contact the number on the card. After learning that his daughter will leave the country with her mother and stepfather, a desperate Gi-hun dials the number. He soon finds himself among over 400 other contestants. They will play deadly variations of six children’s games. The winner of all six games will get the prize money. If you are wondering whether ‘Squid Game’ is inspired by real-life events, this is what you need to know.

Is Squid Game a True Story?

No, ‘Squid Game’ is not based on a true story. In an online press conference, Hwang stated that he developed the show after reading about survival games in comics. “After debuting with ‘My Father,’ I read a lot of comics and was mesmerized by survival games,” he said. “With an attempt to create a Korean version, I started planning out the work in 2008 and finished the scenario in 2009.” According to him, it took him so long to finally develop the project because casting actors and getting funding were difficult processes in the late 2000s. “The idea of a game-winner who strikes it rich was unwelcomed. The brutality and cruelty of the games were of concern. I had to put the scenario on the shelf,” he added.

But things changed in the following decade, and Hwang discovered that there was much interest in his idea. Ultimately, he chose to develop it as a Netflix series. Speaking about his choice of naming the show Squid Game, Hwang mentioned that it was his favorite game as a child, and he loves the fact it’s an incredibly physical game. “I thought the game was a perfect metaphor for our highly competitive society,” he elaborated. “So ‘Squid Game’ was a perfect name for this series.”

Survival game is a pretty popular subgenre of action-adventure (sometimes horror) films and TV shows. Arguably the most well-known entry in this subgenre is ‘The Hunger Games’ series,’ in which a young girl becomes the face of a rebellion after winning a survival game. John Woo’s ‘Hard Target,’ David Fincher’s ‘The Game,’ Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s ‘Ready or Not,’ and the Japanese series ‘Alice in Borderland’ are also great examples of this subgenre. Evidently, ‘Squid Game’ is not based on a true story, but it’s understandable if someone thinks it is.

Read More: Action TV Series on Netflix