“Squid Game” — the warped new Netflix series that pits poor people against each other in a battle to the “death” — has already taken social media audiences hostage.
More than 14 billion videos with the hashtag #SquidGame have appeared on TikTok since the show premiered Sept. 17 on Netflix. Now it’s being hyped as the platform’s top streaming series in the US and dozens of other countries — quickly becoming a time-sucking trending topic on Twitter and Instagram, too.
The Korean-language hit — an unhinged faux-reality competition — follows hundreds of destitute citizens as they participate in a mysterious “survive or die” contest that promises to award one winner with a transformative sum of money, so long as they survive a sick Field Day-inspired tournament of perverse children’s games.
“Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children’s games,” the show’s description reads. “Inside, a tempting prize awaits — with deadly high stakes.”
‘[There’s] a very good chance it’s going to be our biggest show ever.’Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix, on the sudden impact of “Squid Game”
The stir the blood-soaked hunger game has prompted is already bleeding into real life — especially for one unfortunate mobile phone owner.
During scenes featured in the first and second episodes, potential players are ordered to use a specific phone number to confirm their participation in the life-or-death competition. Turns out it is a real phone number.
Surely unbeknownst to writers and producers, one such numeric sequence indeed belonged to that of a South Korean woman, later revealed to be business owner Gil-Young Kim, in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, according to SBS News.
Last week, she told Money Today that she had received thousands of calls and text messages to the number, up to 4,000 in one day, she claimed.
“I have been receiving endless calls and text messages,” she told one local outlet, according to a report by the Korean Herald. “I have been using this number for more than 10 years, so I am quite taken aback.”
“To the director of the show — please reach out to me. This is so upsetting,”
she added, but producers allegedly told her to “change the number” instead.
Meanwhile, a representative of the show told StarNews, “Netflix and Cyron Pictures, the producer of ‘Squid Game,’ are aware of the problem and are working to solve it.”
According to Koreaboo, which translated a report by South Korean outlet Osen, those efforts have included the promise of compensation — first, offering 1 million South Korean won (KRW, about $847), then 5 million (about $4,240) when the first offer fell flat. Negotiations for restitution remain ongoing, according to multiple outlets.
Meanwhile, Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos claimed during the annual Code Conference Monday that “Squid Game” will “definitely” be the streamer’s biggest non-English series.
“[There’s] a very good chance it’s going to be our biggest show ever,” he said about the show, which premiered Sept. 17.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, the show has a 100% critic score based on seven reviews while it has an 87% audience score from 637 user ratings.