Saskatoon — Since its premiere on September 17th, Netflix’s “Squid Game” has exploded in popularity Co-CEO Ted Sarandos Saying that it has a “very good chance” of being the most popular series of all time. An Internet provider in South Korea is also suing Netflix to pay costs from increased network traffic and maintenance.

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A Canadian professor says the South Korean show is resonating with so many viewers because of how the streaming giant has expanded into non-US markets; the growing prominence of South Korean pop culture in the West; and the story’s global themes of inequality and uncertainty.

“The ‘squid game’ is building on the dramatization of class struggle and the huge gap in wealth inequality,” Michelle Cho, professor of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto, told Granthshala in a phone interview. “I would say they are global topics. I think they are taking advantage of the crisis of capitalism that is being experienced in many places around the world.”


For beginners, the South Korean dystopian horror series is about indebted people trying to win cash by competing in deadly versions of popular children’s games such as “Red Light, Green Light.” Cho stated that the show draws on elements of horror reminiscent of the series “Black Mirror” as well as the series “Battle Royale”, a 2000 Japanese thriller that itself inspired the series “The Hunger Games”. .

Cho said that the show is highly constructed and features colorful set designs that provide contrasting scenes with the characters’ anxiety despite living in a post-war economy country.

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“a lot [them] I’m not sure whether the process of modernization has really provided a better place to live or more happiness,” Cho said. “South Koreans are very concerned with the cost of living and wealth inequality right now.”

She said that many of them feel that many aspects of their lives are over-competitive.

“And I think the questions Koreans are asking themselves are: ‘Well, when everything is a competition, how is it possible to survive? That said, many workers around the world feel the same way.

“So it’s like it’s drawing on already existing ideas and global culture and that’s what makes it more attractive and more current.”

And although the show was filmed in Korean, the streaming platform offers subtitles in 37 different languages ​​and voice dubs in 34 languages. And it appears that the platform’s strategy has paid off, because according to the company, 95 percent of the show’s viewers are not in South Korea.

Huge success for Netflix expansion

Netflix’s Global TV Head Bella Bajaria told Vulture that this has helped spark conversations about the show.

“People hear about it, people talk about it, people love it, and there’s a very social aspect to it, which helps develop the show outside of what we do,” he said. told the outlet Last week.

Cho also attributes the show’s success to Netflix’s expansion into markets outside the US.

That growth means that the platform has turned to showcasing and producing diverse content in different markets to attract new audiences. She said this includes shows such as the Spanish heist crime drama “Money Heist” or the French mystery thriller “Lupin”.

She said that China and South Korea are some of the latest parts of the world feeling Netflix’s diversification that began in the early 2010s. The company has also set up two studios outside Seoul to produce more local content there.

“So it was only a matter of time before a show produced outside of ‘West’ would gain traction,” Cho explained, adding that the capabilities of the stage itself played a big part. “Once something starts trending, the algorithm will suggest it and this is an extremely powerful tool that the platform has to focus on customers.”

But Cho also believes that the show’s success is directly related to the rising global prominence of South Korean pop culture through K-dramas, soap operas called K-pop musicals, and Academy-award winning films by Bong Joon-ho. is associated with. The film “Parasite”, which also touches on inequality and class struggle.

“It’s been a really steady expansion of Korean media exports since the early 2000s, starting with film festivals,” he said, adding that since 2010, there has been a concerted effort – notably On behalf of the South Korean government – media production studios that provide subsidies or tax exemptions and promote cultural products and industries, such as film, television, gaming and online comics, are referred to as “webtoons”.

from netflix, it said in a statement Earlier this year it spent nearly US$700 million on Korean movies and TV shows between 2015 and 2020.