‘Squid Game’ director discusses tackling “real world” issues with the series

“Any ordinary middle-class person in the world we live in today can fall to the bottom of the economic ladder overnight”

Squid Game director Hwang Dong-hyuk has opened up about how real-life situations inspire his work.

In a recent interview with AFP, Hwang spoke about how Squid Game, as well as his past work, is an allegory for “real world” problems.

Squid Game had referenced the 2009 Ssangyong motors lay-off, with main protagonist Gi-hun written as one of the many employees that had been retrenched at the time. The event had marked one of the most economically devastating events of modern South Korea, and saw many people falling into debt.


“Through the reference to the SsangYong Motor layoffs, I wanted to show that any ordinary middle-class person in the world we live in today can fall to the bottom of the economic ladder overnight,” he said, as translated by Yahoo! News. Through the character of Gi-hun, the impact of the event is displayed as he eventually becomes desperate enough to join the deadly games to escape his financial situation.

“I think viewers around the world deeply relate to the theme of economic inequality portrayed in Squid Game,” the director continued. “Especially in times of a global pandemic”.

In the same interview, Hwang also talked about how his personal experiences with racial discrimination abroad had inspired the character and story of Ali, a Pakistani migrant worker who is exploited by his employer.

“When I visited the UK at age 24, a white staff member at airport immigration gave me a dismissive look and made discriminatory comments. I find it truly shocking to this day,” he revealed. “I think I was someone like Ali back then.”

In other related news, director Hwang recently responded to LeBron James’ criticism about the end of the show. Commenting on the NBA player’s remarks that he enjoyed the Netflix series but disliked the way it ended, Hwang suggested he make his own sequel.


“LeBron James is cool and can say what he wants. I respect that. I’m very thankful he watched the whole series,” Hwang said.

“But I wouldn’t change my ending. That’s my ending. If he has his own ending that would satisfy him, maybe he could make his own sequel.”

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