The reason why “Squid Game”’s popularity in the U.S shocked people more than “Parasite” and BTS’s

The fever of Netflix’s original series “Squid Game” is reaching its popularity peak in North America during Halloween week.

Therefore, articles from mainstream foreign media analyzing the popularity of “Squid Game” are also pouring out. In response to these media reports, people mostly expressed their “surprising” reactions. They said the reason why this Asian drama called “Squid Game” is so popular was unexpected. They were not that surprised when the movie “Parasite” won “Best Picture” at Oscar, and BTS swept all achievements in the global market. However, the “Squid Game” syndrome seems to be unexpected. What are the reasons?

“Parasite”‘s winning of the “Best Picture” at the 2020 Academy Award was also a great shock in Hollywood. It was hard to imagine a Korean and Asian movie would be the first non-English film to win the “Best Picture” at the Academy. However, many Americans, especially American filmmakers, found this result agreeable. At that time, lots of people in Hollywood voiced out for white-centrism, which has continued for years.

Korean Wave Hallyu

When “Parasite” won Best Foreign Film Award at the Golden Glove Awards earlier, many famous actors responded, “There was a problem”. However, Director Bong Joon-ho impressed people with his meaningful statement in his acceptance speech, saying, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films”. IN another interview, he caused a controversy by calling the Academy a “local awards ceremony”. At that time, the U.S daily newspaper – LA Times even published an article saying, “‘Oscar’ needs ‘Parasite’ more than ‘Parasite’ needs ‘Oscar'”.

BTS’ success was also shocking, but not unexplainable. This is because the “pop culture” is sensitive to trends. Pop culture always changes rapidly and there are numerous genres. BTS’ fan base grows around the 10s and 20s, and their music is quickly shared around the world through Spotify. In an era where you can talk about music videos on platforms such as YouTube and TikTok, the origin of the musicians do not play an important role. British pop music and Japanese pop music have also once gained popularity. Psy’s “Gangnam Style” has also enjoyed worldwide popularity, including the United States, and so has Spanish singer Los Del Rio’s “Macarena.” In addition, the perception that the main genre of BTS’ music itself is American pop music played a major role.

Korean Wave Hallyu

However, it’s different in the case of “Squid Game”, as it is considered a popular work from an unexpected country. The Wall Street Journal, a U.S. economic magazine, said earlier this month that the Squid Game is a “dystopian hit,” emphasizing that the drama criticized reality with a technique that realistically maximizes negative aspects of modern society. Regarding the visual effect in “Squid Game,” the article also stressed, “With a potential language barrier, Netflix emphasized visuals, outfitting competitors in green tracksuits and building colorful sets resembling children’s playgrounds,” adding, “U.S. viewing of K-dramas has doubled in the past two years.”

In addition, the U.S. daily newspaper New York Times, news channel CNN, British national broadcaster BBC, and daily newspaper The Guardian also praised “Squid Game.” Therefore, the global popularity of “Squid Game” is expected to play a big role in the future of K-content. This is because it proves that apart from existing infrastructure and perceptions, Korean content itself and production capabilities have worked with the American public who leads the global popular culture. This also explains why the popularity of “Squid Game” is so surprising.


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