5 causes ‘Squid Recreation’ is dominating memes, streams and Halloween


Note: While this piece avoids specific plot spoilers from “Squid Game,” it does provide a general overview of the story and its themes that could still be viewed as spoilers.

The Korean survival drama poised to become the most watched Netflix series of all time has its tentacles in sneakers and tracksuit sales, the WallStreetBets meme culture, crochet patterns on Etsy ETSY, -2.08%, and the South Korean politics spread.

If you haven’t tuned in already, the series will see hundreds of men and women on the verge of financial ruin to compete in a deadly battle royale for roughly $ 38 million in cash. It’s dark. It’s unsettling. And people can’t get enough. Approximately 95% of Squid Game viewers saw the show from outside of South Korea, Netflix NFLX says + 0.13%, and the series was subtitled in 31 languages ​​and dubbed in 13.

The squid game guard’s uniforms have become iconic – and popular Halloween costumes.

Youngkyu Park / Netflix

The show actually broke the internet in South Korea, and leading internet service provider SK Broadband sued Netflix over the increase in traffic caused by “Squid Game” and ordered Netflix to pay the cost of the increased network traffic and maintenance.

What’s more:

  • Google notes that search interest in converting Korean won to US dollars has hit a record high in the US as American viewers looked up the dollar equivalents of the won amounts shared on the show to better understand the stakes.

  • Squid Game is the most Googled Halloween costume for 2021, with viewers also rushing to Amazon and Etsy to look for pieces that recreate the players’ teal tracksuits or pink guard uniforms. Vans white slip-on sneakers that resemble the show’s players have seen sales up 7,800% since the show premiered on Sept. 22, according to Sole Supplier.

  • And a sweet honeycomb toffee known as Dalgona that featured on the show has become a global trend, reports Reuters. The Seoul-based Dalgona manufacturer who created the treat for “Squid Game” distributed fewer than 200 pieces the day before the show. Now he serves more than 500 dalgona daily. And Google reports that searches for honeycomb toffee (Dalgona candy) hit a record high in the US this month

The strange thing is that all of those colorful Halloween costumes and TikTok challenges, plus shopping trends and fun memes, are inspired by one of the worst shows of the year.

So why is everyone obsessed with Squid Game when it’s so hard to see? Here are some important reasons.

It unlocks the financial pain of the world right now

In “Squid Game” men and women struggle with student loans and medical debts, owe loan sharks money or are exploited by their employers who become so desperate that the allure of making about $ 38 million overnight outweighs or even outweighs the risk of bodily harm Death. The show also condemns capitalism and wealth inequality – wealthy VIPs are the ones who fund the games and watch people kill each other for the sport.

Some of this is a little too real, especially for the home audience. South Korea is in a debt crisis, and South Korean politicians have tried to use the excitement surrounding the show to scold each other or supplement their blunt speeches. In fact, Squid Game creator Hwang Dong-hyuk was notoriously so broke when he wrote the script that he eventually had to sell his laptop for $ 675.

The impressive graphics of “Squid Game” are also part of its appeal.


“In a way, ‘Squid Game’ can be seen as a microcosm of our society,” Areum Jeong, assistant professor of humanities at the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute, told MarketWatch. “Young people today feel discouraged and pessimistic about the unemployment rate and working conditions. While the older generation has been recognized and rewarded for their hard work, the younger generation today tends to believe that your background and legacy (rather than hard work) are more important to being successful. ”

And with economies around the world grappling with the aftermath of the pandemic lockdowns and the toll the pandemic has taken in lives, the fantasy of getting rich quick is as appealing as ever. “In the age of social media influencers and YouTubers, the conventional idea of ​​work (works 9-5) seems to be devalued and more and more people are looking for (easier and faster) ways to make money. “Said Jeong. “More and more people in Korea are becoming obsessed with the stock market, and even Korean college students are buying stocks these days.”

The look and the costume design are striking

Teal tracksuits with white numbers on the front. Pink-colored uniforms with hoods and black fencing masks with triangles, circles and squares stamped on them. An oversized robot doll with a warning twinkle in its eye. The imagery of “Squid Game” is worth a thousand words – which is helpful when the audience is not speaking the same language.

“This show is packed with imagery and symbols that are easy to spot but pretty easy to replicate, like the square / circle / triangle shapes on the mysterious recruitment card, the show’s logo, the players’ tracksuits and masks and that bright red overalls uniform that the staff wears, ”Madeleine Buckley, editor-in-chief of Pop Insider, told MarketWatch. “That makes ‘Squid Game’ the perfect fodder for fan tributes, social media challenges, cosplay and merchandise.”

The impressive graphics of “Squid Game” are also part of its appeal.


In fact, a quick search for Squid Game on Etsy returns nearly 8,000 listings, including Squid Game-inspired t-shirts, mugs, crochet patterns, stickers, jewelry, masks, and business cards. An Amazon AMZN search with -0.42% yields dozens of Halloween costumes from “Squid Game”.

While most of the Squid Game products featured on Amazon and Etsy are unlicensed, Netflix’s online store has official Squid Game merch, including t-shirts and hoodies, for $ 35 to $ 50.

And of course there are the memes and gifs, as well as the TikTok challenges, where people try to participate in some of the games featured on the show at home.

“Aside from the word of mouth, I’m sure a lot of people got interested in the show because of those flashy memes and TikTok challenges posted by the Squid Game marketing team and early viewers,” agreed Jeong. “And after those curious viewers see the show, the distinctive costumes, objects and symbols become references that they can now fully understand and enjoy on social media.”

It rides the K-pop / Korean wave

“Squid Game” hit, as Korean culture dominates the globe. In September, more than 20 words of Korean origin were added to the Oxford English Dictionary, including hallyu, which describes the increased international interest in South Korean entertainment and culture, also known as the “Korean Wave”.

“The rise of Korean pop culture over the past decade, particularly with K-pop acts like BTS, Korean films like Parasite, and Korean television dramas on Netflix, has really helped global audiences become interested in Squid Game. “Said Jeong. “And many recent Korean works that have been loved by audiences around the world (‘Parasite’, ‘Train to Busan’, Netflix ‘,’ Sweet Home ‘etc) kept in dystopian settings. A topic with which the audience could particularly resonate during the pandemic. ”

‘Squid Game’ is fresh, although it’s another survival contest

From Stephen King’s “Running Man” to the “Battle Royale” and “Hunger Games” films, there have been fictional, deadly reality competitions before. But “Squid Game” has its own twists and turns. “Yes, we’ve seen other media where desperate people struggle for resources (hello, ‘Hunger Games’), but the absolute brutality of this show coupled with the harrowing, incongruous fact that these players really risk their lives for schoolyard games Sitting down pulls you in, ”said Buckley. “In addition, the show offers so many secrets and unknowns that give fans so much space to speculate and theorize while watching.”

In fact, TikTok and YouTube videos puzzling over the clues and Easter eggs hidden in early “Squid Game” videos encourage replay.

Plus – and one more spoiler alert – players compete in playground games familiar to many viewers and simple enough for a child to understand. “The children’s games featured in ‘Squid Game’ are not complex at all. Even if you are not a Korean and have not played yet [some of] In these games before, the rules are simple and very easy to understand, ”said Jeong. “The familiarity and simplicity of ‘Squid Game’ make it easy for international viewers from all backgrounds to understand and enjoy the show and participate in sharing popular memes or TikTok challenges.”

Buckley added that Squid Game’s universal appeal also comes from the questions it poses, what makes us human and what we would do to survive. “It picks up on some of the most primordial and universal themes of being human: desperation of wanting a better life, being ready to do anything for the people you love, and grappling with the moral implications of choices you make the most difficult cases meet circumstances, “she said. “No matter what language we speak, all of these factors make the show accessible and interesting for viewers worldwide.”

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