" Squid Game, "brutal data Netflix survival drama about desperate adults fighting each other in deadly games for children for a chance to escape heavy debt, hit a little too close to home for Lee Chang-keun.
The show captivated audiences worldwide since its debut in September and is on its way to becoming Netflix's biggest hit. It has struck nerves at home, where there is growing dissatisfaction with skyrocketing personal debt, the deterioration of labor markets andto the glaring income inequalities made worse by the financial crises of the past two decades.
In the dystopian horrors of "Squid Game, " Lee is reflected in the show 's protagonist, Seong Gi-hun , a laid-off auto worker struggling with a broken family and struggling with constant business failures and gambling problems.
"Squid Game " is Netflix's biggest non-English hit and is fast becoming the platform's biggest show ever. (Netflix)
NETFLIX 'SQUIAD GAME ' CREATOR SAYS THAT THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP HELPED HIM FINALLY MAKE THE HIT SHOW
Seong is beaten by gangsters to sign his organs as collateral, but then receives a mysterious offer to play a series of six traditional Korean children's games for try to win $ 38 million.
The South Korea -produced show pits Seong against hundreds of other financially troubled players inhyperviolent competition for the ultimate prize, with losers being killed in every round.
This raises worrying questions about the future of one of Asia's richest economies, where people who once sang the "Miracle of the Han River " now complain about "Joseon Hell, " a sarcastic reference to a hierarchical kingdom that ruled Korea before the 20th century.
"Some of the scenes were very difficult to watch, " said Lee, an employee of Ssangyong Motors in South Korea who experienced financial hardship and depression after the automaker put it and 2,600 other employees then left that they file for bankruptcy in 2009.
After years of protests, court battles and government intervention, Le e and hundreds of other workers inSsangyong have returned to work in recent years. But not before a wave of suicides among coworkers and family members who have been plunged into financial misery.
"In 'Squid Game ', you see characters scrambling to survive after being fired at work, struggling to run fried chicken restaurants or working as “daeri” drivers, who are paid to drive drunk people home in their own cars, Lee said. recalled the deaths of my colleagues. "
Lee said he and his colleagues were struggling to find work and had been demoted by other automakers who considered them like union activists.
The Critics claimed that translations from Korean for other subtitles into other languages weakened the cultural significance of the show. (Netflix)
NETFLIX SUSPEND A TRANS EMPLOYEE WHO CR ITICIZED SPECIAL CHAPEL, AF MEETINGMAKE CRASHED
A 2016 report by medical researchers at Korea University said at least 28 ssangyong sacked workers or their relatives died suicide or serious health problems, including those related to post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Squid Game " is one of many South Korean shows inspired by economic hardship. . Her dark history of inequality and class drew comparisons to Bong Joon-ho's Oscar-winning "Parasite", another pandemic-era hit with stunning visuals and violence exposing the underside of South Korea's economic success.
Netflix tweeted on Wednesday that "Squid Game " became its biggest original series launch after reaching 111 million fans.
The rapid reconstruction of South Korea from the ravages of the 1950-53 Korean War has been spectacular - from Samsung 's emergence as aGlobal tech giant with immense popularity for K-pop and movies that
"Class problems are severe all over the world, but it seems that South Korean directors and writers are approaching the problem more boldly, " said Im Sang-soo, a director.
In "Squid Game, " Seong's troubles date back to his firing a decade earlier from the fictional Dragon Motors, a nod to Ssangyong, which means "double dragon ".
Hundreds of workers, including Lee, occupied a factory in Ssangyong for weeks in 2009 to protest the layoffs before being dispersed by anti-police riot that besieged them, assaulted them with batons, shields and water cannons and released liquefied tear gas from a helicopter.
" Squid Game "follows a group of adults who compete in deadly games for cash prizes. (Netflix)
DAMON WAYANS ON THE CONTROVERSIAL NETFLIX SPECIAL OF DAVE CHAPPELLE, STANDING IN 'PC CULTURE ': 'HE IS VAN GOGH
This violent confrontation has hurt dozens of people and is part of the "Squid Game " story. Seong has flashbacks to a fellow Dragon killed by strikebreakers as he organized other game participants to create barricades with dorm beds to block deadly nightly attacks from more vicious opponents seeking to eliminate the competition.
Ultimately, it 's every man for himself in a cruel battle royale between hundreds of people willing to risk even their lives in an attempt to free themselves from the nightmare of insurmountable debt.
The show features other crushed or marginalized characters, like Ali Abdul, an undocumented Pakistani factory worker with his fingers cut off and a boss who refuses to pay him, illustrating how the country exploits some of Asia's poorest people while ignoring unsafe working conditions and wage theft.
And Kang Sae -byeok, a pickpocketing North Korean refugee who has known nothing but hard life on the streets and is in desperate need of money to save her brother from an orphanage and get her mother out of the North.
Many South Koreans despair of making progress in a society where good jobs are increasingly scarce and house prices have skyrocketed, prompting many to borrow heavily to bet on investments risky financiers or cryptocurrencies.
Household debt, at over 1.8 trillion ($ 1.5 trillion), now exceeds the country's annual economic output. Harsh times have lowered a record birth rate as struggling couples avoid having babies.
Squid Game 's worldwide success is no cause for pride, Se-Jeoung Kim, a South Korean lawyer based in Poland, writes in a column for Seoul Shinmun newspaper.
" The strangers will come to you, telling you that they too have watched Squid Game with fascination, and may ask if Ali's situation in the drama could really happen in a country as wealthy and well-groomed as South Korea, and I wouldn't have said anything, "she said.
Kim Jeong-wook, another worker from Ssangyong who spent months with Lee perched atop a fireplace in a factory in Ssangyong in 2015, demanding that the company rehire the laid-off workers, said he couldn't watch Squid Game after episode one.
"It was too traumatic for me "he said.