How Korea Shows Fantasy And Reality in Squid Game


South Korean tv series Squid Game became a hit with the speed of light. The drama-slash-horror series that was made for Netflix is now the most popular show to date on the television streaming service. It is a surprise as usually there is resistance from American and British viewers to read subtitles while watching movies and yet Squid Game is talked about on social media and it even generated memes across different platforms. If you haven’t seen it yet it is high time to do that! 

It is a great example of a show that mixes fantasy and reality in a very interesting way and keeps viewers glued to the screen. At some point, you may feel shocked, sad, and even disgusted throughout the 9 episodes as it depicts the grim socio-economic plight of South Korea. In this article, we will discuss with an iGaming expert, Martim Nabeiro, how the director mixed fantasy and reality through gambling games. 

Children’s Games or Gambling?

The name of the series – squid game – comes from the traditional Korean children’s game of the same name. In Squid Game, the cash-strapped participants are tricked into playing a last-man-standing survival game where one will win about $38 million USD equivalent in Korean won while the rest of the 455 players will die trying. 

However, these children’s games are made gambling games where players win or lose (and die). The series also addresses the issue of gambling addiction as the main character, Gi-hun is a compulsive gambler. He steals money to place it on horse racing and when he only has a few pennies left he puts them into a claw toy grabber machine (also gambling) to get a birthday present for his daughter. 

Gambling addiction is a worldwide issue and that is why responsible online casinos that accept players from Portugal, have measures in place. In these casinos, you can safely play slot machines gratis, poker, roulette, and other varieties of gambling online games. 

Greed and Classism in a Capitalist World

Squid Game is a critique of capitalism and understandably, has generated lots of reactions from people of all nationalities. Greed is depicted perfectly through the gambling games. After the first game: Red light, green light the shocked participants collectively decide to go home and leave the game. Yet, the vast majority of them voluntarily return as they cannot resist the incredible sum of money they have a chance to win. 

During the show, relationships form and people start caring about each other. The first game where players have to compete against each other is tug-of-war. You would think that people will want to team up but, for example, the male half of a newly formed couple denies having his lover as part of his team as he is too afraid of losing. The following game lets people team up in pairs only for them to find out they now have to compete with each other and only one can survive. Heart-broken as they are, everybody goes after his/her own interest and tries to trick their “friend” so that they could win the game. 

Towards the end of the series, it turns out that a mysterious organization is behind the games and the participants are the products of this gambling industry. 

The show also depicts the economic inequality in South Korea. About ten years ago, a previously large middle class suddenly found themselves having to take lower-paying jobs because of Korea’s changing economy. Just like the main character Seong Gi-hun whose well-paying car factory job ceased to exist. You will find lots of desperation, poverty, and homelessness you wouldn’t find in other developed countries. 

In Korea, it is extremely shameful to be poor and the rich look down on the poor, perhaps more so than in the West. There is a North Korean defector player among the participants and she is as isolated and lonely as you could possibly get. Gi-hun’s ex-classmate on the other hand is university educated and has an almost God-like status despite the fact that he owes billions through his bad investment decisions and deceiving people. 


The director of Squid Game managed to mingle reality and fantasy very well in popular Korean series. Throughout the episodes, we will meet greed, inequality, shame, and fear set in a dramatic way.


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