It’s official: Squid Game is Netflix’s biggest original series ever.
The nine-part Korean drama was watched by 111 million users in its first 28 days, knocking Bridgerton and its 82 million off the top spot.
If you’re one of the three Netflix subscribers on the planet who haven’t watched it yet, the series tells the story of a group of skint misfits taking part in a series of children’s playground games in a bid to win a huge cash prize. Only problem is, if you lose, you get killed.
It’s fair to say, the entire world is obsessed, and if like us you’ve been wondering just what went into making the series, then step this way for all the behind-the-scenes secrets from the year’s buzziest show...
The script took a year to write
...and 10 years to get picked up by Netflix after being rejected. It reportedly took writer and director Hwang Dong-Hyuk nearly six months to write the first two episodes alone.
It wasn’t initially called Squid Game
During initial plans for the show revealed by Netflix in September 2019, it was called Round Six. It was also once known as Squid Game: Play To Die.
The whole production is filmed in just one city
About an hour outside of Seoul, South Korea is the city of Daejeon – the home of Squid Game. Sticking to one place meant there was more budget available for those iconic sets.
It was not cheap to make
Production cost for the show was £12.3 million (or 20 billion won).
Netflix reportedly paid £15.5m for the nine-part series
The figure comes from internal documents that Bloomberg claim to have obtained, although Netflix has not confirmed the figure.
Very little CGI was actually used
All of those humongous sets? Yep, they were built especially for the show.
The cast was also huge
The Red Light, Green Light game featured over 400 performers.
Some of the cast were allergic to those iconic teal tracksuits
Director Hwang Dong-Hyuk describes the material of the costumes as being similar to “old gym clothes,” which caused the set to become “really dusty”. This led to some of the cast having difficulty breathing, while others’ “faces even turned red because of allergies”.
The giant robot doll featured in the first game was borrowed from a museum for the show
The Red Light, Green Light doll has now been returned to the horse-carriage museum in Korea (now mysteriously missing one of its hands).
The robot doll does her own interviews
Yes, really. If you want to find out how she got into acting (!) or her thoughts on US politics (!!) then head here.
The Honeycomb game features real honeycomb (or dalgona)
The director brought in a “honeycomb master” to constantly cook up the sweet treat every day of filming. The whole set smelt of honeycomb for the duration, according to the cast. (Learn how to make it yourself here).
There weren’t actually two teams filmed for the Tug-Of-War game
A machine was used on the other side of the rope, which the actors said made filming the scenes especially difficult and exhausting.
The cast are all in agreement about which game was the most terrifying to film
“Filming stepping stones was actually terrifying,” HoYeon Jung said. Writer and producer, Hwang Dong-Hyuk, added: “The game was real and they felt real fear.”
Real tempered glass was used in the stepping stones episode
But the actors only fell 1.5 metres to the floor. Still sounds terrifying to us.
The gravity-defying stairs in the headquarters were inspired by well known artworks
MC Escher’s Relativity and Ricardo Boffil’s La Muralla Rosa in Spain were both sources of inspo.
The walls in the dorm contain easter eggs about what games will be played
As the number of beds reduces, the dorm walls feature drawings that serve as clues for the players to see which games will be played.
There’s a reason the sleeping dorm looks like an Amazon warehouse
“The art director proposed a warehouse store concept,’ directorHwang Dong-Hyuk explained. “Rather than treating them like people, she suggested the contestants be presented like objects piled on the warehouse shelves.”
The director’s early life inspired how one of the lead actors approached their character
Park Hae Soo, who plays the role of Cho Sang-woo, says he took a lot of inspiration from director Hwang and his experiences in Seoul National University. Both the director and the character went to the prestigious university.
Wondering how much that prize money is in British pounds?
The prize fund totals 45,600,000,000 won, which is just over £28 million.
Jung Ho-yeon, who plays Kang Sae-byeok, AKA Competitor 067, is also a hugely successful model
The 27-year-old has modelled for brands like Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton, for whom she is a global ambassador.
Squid Game is Jung Ho-yeon’s debut acting role
“When I’d travel by myself on airplanes and stay at hotels, I spent most of my days just watching movies,” she told Vogue.
“[Afterward] I thought more and more about myself and my position in humanity at large. Who was I? What does it mean to be human? The need to answer those questions was what brought me to acting.”
Jung Ho-yeon became great friends with Lee Yoo-mi while filming the series
“Yoo-mi is more experienced in acting and she’s a great actress,” Jung said in Korean. “When I talked about my concerns in acting, she was always very considerate.
“Since I trust her, we talked about many things. So I think it all wrapped up nicely. I’m still thankful for her.”
The show has caused Lee Yoo-mi’s online profile explode
Yoo-mi, who plays Ji-yeong, saw her Instagram profile jump from 40,000 followers to a mammoth 6.3 million followers in a matter weeks.
Donald Trump inspired one of the VIPs
“I think he kind of resembles one of the VIPs in the Squid Game,” the show’s creator Hwang Dong-hyuk told IndieWire. “It’s almost like he’s running a game show, not a country, like giving people horror.”
The guards mask’s were inspired by fencing masks
As well as traditional Korean masks called Haehotal.
And as for the different shapes on the masks...
They were inspired by ant colonies and dictate the staff hierarchy.
Circle: A worker, at the bottom of the hierarchy.
Triangle: A soldier, they’re the ones who are armed.
Square: A manager, they have the most power and oversee the soldiers and workers.
But their hot pink jumpsuits were originally going to be something completely different
The guards’ striking hot pink jumpsuits were initially supposed to be Boy Scout uniforms. They were changed because the initial Boy Scout-like outfits showed the men’s figures too well, which defeated the purpose of making “them look like ants in an ant colony” and “anonymous”.
Still wondering why those coffins were adorned with giant pink bows?
According to the show’s art director, Chae Kyung-sun, since the creator thinks “as if he’s a god” with power and mercy, he bestows a final “gift” to the players.
It was watched by a whopping 111 million Netflix users in the first 28 days
This makes it Netflix’s most successful show ever – beating the previous viewing record set by Bridgerton in 2020 when 82 million of us tuned in.
Not bad considering Netflix didn’t heavily market the series in their biggest market - the US
The show ended up becoming a massive hit in the States due to word of mouth and positive press.
Squid Game is streaming now on Netflix.