The South Korean Debt Crisis That Inspired Squid Games’ Dark Dystopia | Australia news

A high-concept, ultra-violent South Korean thriller that was rejected by Seoul TV executives for a decade may seem like an unlikely candidate for the most popular series ever shown on Netflix. But by now, you probably know that Squid Game shows hundreds of down-luck contestants playing a series of children’s games for a huge cash prize, knowing that if they lose, they will be killed on the spot. The show has become a worldwide phenomenon, a lightning rod for debates about depictions of violence and an instant classic costume option for Halloween.

Underneath all that hype is a story that resonates deeply in South Korea – where the level of personal debt now equates to 105% of GDP – and which has resonated around the world. IN Rachel Humphreys’ last episode as a presenter, the Seoul-based cultural journalist Nemo Kim explains the connection between the TV show and a crisis based on a system that makes it as easy to take out a loan as to buy a cup of coffee. And the TV reviewer Ellen E Jones examines how these themes have been captured by audiences everywhere – and what the show’s success tells us about the extraordinary power Netflix has to transform our cultural tastes.

You can read Nemo Kim’s play with Justin McCurry: Squid Game exposes South Korea’s real personal debt crisis here.

Cast of Squid Game standing in line in tracksuits

Photo: Youngkyu Park / Netflix

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