Inspired by various comics, writer-director Dong-hyuk Hwang developed ‘Squid Game’ as a death-game action-adventure series. It also has several elements of mystery attached to it. One of the most prominent among them is the identity of the mastermind of the game. In the season finale, it is revealed that the old man or No. 001 (Yeong-su Oh) — that both the protagonist Seong Gi-hun or No. 456 (Jung-jae Lee) and the audience came to know and love — is the one who created the horrible game.
It was a shocking moment of realization and disappointment. No. 001 is one of the most likable characters in the story. When he is seemingly killed after the Marbles round, you grieve with Gi-hun and even blame him for what happened. The discovery that No. 001 was behind the contestants’ pain, misery, and deaths is probably as heart-breaking for most audience members as it is for Gi-hun. If you want to know why he created the game, we got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.
Why Did the Old Man Create Squid Game?
Like any other game, the old man, whose real name is revealed to be Oh Il-nam, created Squid Game for amusement and entertainment. As he tells Gi-hun after the latter arrives at the apartment and is stunned to see him alive, he is extremely wealthy. And when someone has that kind of money, it eventually comes to a point when nothing in the world can satisfy them. Il-nam was bored with his life, and after speaking to his equally rich clients, he realized that they felt the same. Having virtually everything that anyone can ever want, it apparently took the joy out of their lives.
So, Il-nam created the game to have some “fun.” But he didn’t come up with a game like Polo or Golf to deal with his boredom. He created an obscenely violent game that would suit his and his clients’ tastes. The money, power, and influence that these people have made them automatically entitled. As a result, it apparently didn’t affect their conscience that they are dealing with the lives of real people.
Realizing that Gi-hun is outraged because he said he created the game for fun, Il-nam reminds him that all the contestants signed forms before entering the competition. And even after knowing what it is, most of them chose to come back to play it. This is likely why he, Front Man, and the recruiters chose Gi-hun and the others. They knew that these people didn’t have any other options because of their financial situation. They were desperate enough to do anything, including playing a series of deadly children’s games.
The tumor has always been real. Il-nam knew that he would die soon. So, to experience his creation from the other side of the glass, he decided to participate in the game, leaving his owl mask behind and wearing the No. 001 jumpsuit and jacket. Il-nam and his clients or the VIPs betted against each other for their favorite contestants. It became the ultimate source of entertainment for them. Even in his last moments, he makes a wager with Gi-hun about the life of another person. As an angry Gi-hun tries to suffocate him, Il-nam tells Gi-hun that he will tell him everything if he plays one more game with him.
He points outside where a man is dying in the cold and tells Gi-hun that the latter will win if someone comes to help the man by midnight. He wants Gi-hun to believe what has become his own philosophy: people are not inherently good. However, before midnight, someone does come and helps the man, proving him categorically wrong. But by then, Il-nam himself has died and never discovers that he lost his last bet.
Read More: Is Squid Game a True Story?