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'Squid Game' mania in South Korea driven by nostalgia, new talent

Updated on: 07 October,2021 02:47 PM IST  |  Seoul

For many South Koreans, part of the show's appeal is its use of childhood games and activities, reports

'Squid Game' mania in South Korea driven by nostalgia, new talent

Picture Courtesy/Mid-day Archives

'Squid Game' in South Korea has become a breakout success for Netflix as the streamer's biggest non-English-language series. But audiences in the show's home country are divided over its merits. A recent on-air promotion event by K-pop girl band Itzy on KBS Cool FM radio recently deviated into a discussion of the survival show. While they were supposed to be promoting their single 'Loco', three of the band's five members discussed their reactions to the show.

South Korean singer Chaeryeong, said that she found the series too violent and that she could only stomach some of it. That is a common criticism of the show, in which the majority of the 400-plus contestants in a mysterious contest are brutally eliminated. For many South Koreans, part of the show's appeal is its use of childhood games and activities, reports The price of dalgona, an old-fashioned brittle candy featured in one of the 'Squid Game' episodes, has been raised from around $0.84 per piece to a reported $5.88.

Another sign of 'Squid Game' mania in South Korea has been soaring real-life use of the telephone numbers depicted on screen. In a reactive and attention-seeking move, a local politician was reported to have offered more than $4,000 to buy the number that belongs to a person living in his district and who had been plagued by hundreds of nuisance calls. On Wednesday, Netflix said that it would edit out the number.

"We are working to resolve this matter, including editing scenes with phone numbers where necessary," said the streamers. Netflix Korea established a pop-up game experience installation at Ogem World, in the heart of Itaewon, Seoul's nightlife district. It garnered huge interest and attention from the South Korean general public, but had to be shut down ahead of schedule, due to infringement of social distancing regulations.

Model-turned-actor Jung Ho-yeon, who portrays a North Korean refugee, has now become the most followed actress in South Korea with 15.6 million Instagram followers. Jung told Korean media in a recent interview: "Too many great big things happened so quickly, it's best to take time and recollect myself."

Also read: What makes Netflix's 'Squid Game' the most-watched series globally?

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