5 dark messages metaphorize the real society in Squid Game: Talent does not determine success, segregation has no way out?

Squid Game is not only a survival drama, but also a mirror that reflects many dark corners of today’s society

Attention: The article reveals the content of the movie Squid Game!

One of the factors that make the Korean Netflix blockbuster ‘Squid Game’ “storm” around the world is the metaphorical meaning in the film. Throughout the 9 episodes of ‘Squid Game’, the author has made great efforts to portray images and perspectives of the real socit. The elements in the movie from players, administrators to VIPs can all be considered mirror images of real life. Here are the 5 ingenious points of Squid Game in reflecting the dark, hard-to-talk corners of life.

In a capitalist society, the rich are the most powerful

The cruel distinction between rich and poor is the theme highlighted in ‘Squid Game’. This death game was born to serve no purpose but to “entertain” the rich. They are the ones who make the rules that make things work, and when those rules don’t satisfy them, they can be changed instantaneously in the face of the helplessness of their followers.

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An example of this is in the round of glasses. When it was discovered that a player could look at the glass panels to distinguish which is tempered glass, the organizers arbitrarily… turned off the lights to ensure the entertainment of the game when participants had to risk their lives.  Although the administrator still talks about “fairness”, this clearly does not apply to the contrast between rich and poor.

Players – the bottom of society, there is no way out of poverty in such a society

Those in debt, needy, living at the bottom of society are players of ‘Squid Game’. In essence, they have no choice to really “live”, other than to participate in this mortal game.

That’s why episode 2 of the series is called “Hell”.  In this episode, the players have the opportunity to return to their old lives. However, what they thought was peace turned out to be false freedom. Their old lives were hell, and there they hardly had a chance to climb the social ladder. ‘Squid Game’ was born as a “life-changing opportunity” to attract the weak, but it was all a lie, when the game was designed so that only 1 person could survive. It is even more humiliating when the lives, emotions, and consciences of the poor become a tool for entertainment and satisfaction of the leaders of the institution.

Even Gi Hun (Lee Jung Jae) survived and owned the bounty of the Squid Game, but still couldn’t be happy.  The money he holds in his hand is “blood money”, the life of 454 people, and no one will attest to that illegal “richness”. Gi Hun survived, not won. Even he survived because it was “allowed” by the game.

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Competence is not the deciding factor for success

In the last games, it is not difficult to see that the male lead Gi Hun represents the “lucky” type. In a meritocratic society, Gi Hun is one of the first to be eliminated for not having enough talent, constantly being deceived. But in Squid Game, he is the survivor.

The fifth game – glass stepping stones is a metaphor that best reflects this. Those who take the lead become the “experimental rats”. The one who is able to overcome the challenge (the glassmaker) is cheated on by the game’s host by turning off the lights to make him fail. Only the lucky ones win.

Similar to real life, competence is not the only factor in determining success. Background, social status, inheritance, gender, genetics, surrounding society… are all the factors we can’t control, but they make an important contribution to each person’s performance in life. “The fox may grow grey, but never good”. 

Gender discrimination still exists in society

Another factor that Squid Game focuses on is the gender discrimination between males and females. The character Ni Myeo from the beginning is blatantly insulted by Deok Soo, just because she is a woman. The series continues when the female characters get ignored when teaming up because men only want to be in the same team with the “strongest ones”. The game of tug of war proves that all men in one team do not equal victory.

This is even reflected in the characters who control Squid Game. As can be seen, no one among the VIPs is a woman. Showcasing the lack of women leaders is certainly an intention of the drama’s producers. The fact that men have always been dominant in positions of power, or often have higher incomes in society, is partly explained through these details of Squid Game.  Especially in a society that is still heavily sexist against women like Korea, Squid Game has become more topical than ever.

Corruption is everywhere

Although the Squid Game organization is described as “serious” and everything runs smoothly, it is soon revealed that there is an underground organ trafficking ring going on. The workers of Squid Game secretly steal the bodies of players who lose and connect with a doctor pretending to be a player, in order to collect organs right under the control of the “Front Man”. This is a metaphor for the corruption taking place in the ruling organizations of society. Illegal actions (even within the illegal Squid Game) always take place for some people to rip off for personal benefits.

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The organ trafficking organization in Squid Game has been discovered and punished. However, is that the only “corrupt” activity going during this game?

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Squid Game is available on Netflix.

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