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Squid Game on Netflix: That ending explained and your burning questions answered

Here’s info about the ending, a possible second season, that creepy Red Light, Green Light doll, and the oh-so-breakable candy shapes.

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In one unnerving game, contestants have to cross a bridge of glass panels, not knowing which can support their weight and which will shatter.

In Squid Game, the disturbing but intriguing hit Korean series about a murderous tournament of children’s games, the tournament itself winds its way to a bloody resolution. But that doesn’t mean all our Squid Game questions got answered. Here are answers to eight burning questions viewers may have after watching the dystopian show. 

Warning: The following story includes huge spoilers for Squid Game, so if you haven’t watched all the episodes, come back and read this after you’re done. You don’t want to be spoiled for some of the plot twists.

1. When did Squid Game come out?

The nine-episode series released on Netflix on Sept. 17. 

2. Will there be a season 2 of Squid Game?

If you’ve watched the whole show (remember that spoiler warning above), you know the game doesn’t really end with the ninth episode. It continues, and the future of “winner” Seong Gi-hun (played by Lee Jung-jae) is left uncertain. Will we ever know what happens after he gets off that plane? The answer is a resounding … maybe. Writer/director Hwang Dong-hyuk told Variety he may return to big-screen movies before thinking about a Squid Game sequel.

“I don’t have well-developed plans for Squid Game 2,” he told Variety. “It is quite tiring just thinking about it. But if I were to do it, I would certainly not do it alone. I’d consider using a writers’ room and would want multiple experienced directors.”

Squid Game’s success is sure to have Netflix execs wanting more, but we just don’t know if they’ll coax the director back for more. Get out the dangling piggy bank full of Korean won, Netflix, and pay the man.

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Two contestants prepare to play marbles in Squid Game.Netflix/Youngkyu Park

3. Was Squid Game based on a book?

It certainly seems like Squid Game would make a great novel or graphic novel. But right now, you can’t go to your bookstore and scoop up a Squid Game book to read.

According to Korean pop-culture site Soompi, Squid Game director Hwang Dong Hyuk said that he got the idea for the show back in 2008 from a comic book about people who were playing an extreme game. But he didn’t name the comic.

And it might not even be a single comic, because the director told the Korea Herald that he “read a lot of comics, and was mesmerized by survival games.” So until Hwang comes out and names some of his reading material, guesses are all we have. It seems likely that Squid Game will now be turned into book form, since it’s such a hit. Keep an eye on those bookstore shelves.

Some are claiming that Squid Game is suspiciously similar to a 2014 Japanese film, As The Gods Will, directed by Takashi Miike. That film itself is based on Japanese manga. It’s also about a death tournament using childhood games, and seems to have some very similar scenes, including a doll that spins around and tries to catch players moving.

Squid Game’s director said at a press conference that only the first game in the film is similar to his show, and that he had been working on his concept for years before As The Gods Will came out in 2014.

MORE ABOUT SQUID GAME

4. Is Squid Game a real game?

Obviously there’s no deadly Squid Game tournament, where people are killed playing innocent children’s games. We hope. But the title refers to one specific game that gets its name from a court shaped vaguely like a squid. 

Main character Seong Gi-hun makes it sound as if Squid Game is unique to his town, describing a game that’s kind of like Red Rover and kind of like Capture the Flag and is played in a playground court shaped like a squid. In order to win, the attacking team, who are only allowed to hop until they pass the squid’s waist, must tap the squid’s head with their foot. Director Hwang told the Korea Herald that it was his favorite childhood game, so yes, it does seem to be real.

Other games played are fairly obviously real, including marbles, tug-of-war, and Red Light Green Light. There’s one game that’s obviously not real — one in which players must cross a glass bridge and don’t know which panel will shatter underfoot — though games like hopscotch do require you to place your feet only in certain squares.

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In one game, contestants need to carve out a candy shape without breaking it.Netflix/Youngkyu Park

One game gives each player a tin of candy with a shape embossed into it, and they must use a sharp object to cut out the shape without breaking it. That’s easy if you have a triangle shape, not so easy if you picked the umbrella. Contestants eventually learn that licking the back of the candy helps release the shape.

That candy is real–here’s a YouTube video from PinoyChefKorea that shows you how to make it. (Recipe instructions are shown in English captions.) Did you get into making Dalgona coffee during the pandemic? This candy is Dalgona candy.

The candy is popular with Korean children, the chef notes. And yes, eaters in Korea try to eat around the embossed shape without breaking it, though the stakes for them aren’t life and death.

5. Is the Red Light, Green Light doll real?

The first game the contestant play is Red Light, Green Light, but instead of a human turning around and trying to catch someone moving during “Red Light,” it’s a super-creepy giant schoolgirl robot doll thing.

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The doll in the Red Light, Green Light game is real, and tourists can visit it.Netflix/Youngkyu Park

Online publication Koreaboo reports that the doll wasn’t made for Squid Game, but that it already was on display at the Jincheon Carriage Museum Adventure Village, also known as Macha Land, a museum in Chungcheongbok-do, South Korea, several hours from Seoul. Koreaboo says the doll has now been returned to the museum, but somehow is missing one hand. Hey, those games were rough on everyone.

Den of Geek pointed us to tweets from residents of the Philippines noting that a version of the doll was part of a Netflix display in a mall there, and its head actually spun around.

6.That Squid Game business card

Squid Game recruiters handed out light-brown business cards with the game’s symbol — a circle, triangle and a square — on one side, and a phone number on the other. (Enterprising online artists are selling them if your Halloween costume needs a prop, or make them yourself.)

Writer Jasmine Leung explains for The Focus that the shapes are actually Korean letters.

“The circle is the letter ‘o’, the triangle is part of the letter ‘j’, and the square is ‘m’,” she writes. “So side by side, it reads ‘O J M’, which are the initials (of) squid game in Korean, which is read as Ojingeo Geim (오징어게임).”

That side of the card is fine, but the other side, with a phone number shown, caused some problems. Mashable Southeast Asia reports that a person with that number has complained of receiving “endless” calls and text messages. (C’mon Netflix, you should’ve bought a specific number and set up some promo message for those who called it.)

7. Theory about Squid Game guards

The guards in Squid Game wear red, and when one’s exposed, he seems like a young naive soldier. One online theory tries to explain how the guards were hired. Lead character Seong Gi-hun plays a game called ddakji with a recruiter for the game. (Ddakji is a traditional Korean game of flipping paper tiles–kind of like POGs.) Gi-hun picks blue paper over red. It seems random, but one theory claims it’s not.

“So there’s a theory in Squid Game where Gi-Hun picked the blue card from the salesman (Gong Yoo) and then woke up in blue suit as a player,” one tweet notes. “Had he or the other players picked the red card, they would be the workers/guards.”

There’s no evidence that this is true, but hey, good fodder for a possible sequel.

8. The Squid Game ending explained

Super-spoiler time, because we’re going to talk about the series’ ending. Seong Gi-hun wins, and he learns who’s really running the game (you may have figured it out since we don’t see this character die in the game, but it’s such a juicy plot twist that I won’t reveal it here). 

After dealing with the game mastermind, Gi-hun dyes his hair bright red (like the guards’ outfits, though that’s probably not connected). Then he starts to get on a plane for LA to reunite with his young daughter. But he spots the game recruiter who involved him in the game trying to convince another down-on-his-luck man to play. Gi-hun grabs the card, and just before he gets on the plane, calls the number and tells the person who answers he’s going to track them down. SEQUEL? Even if the director doesn’t seem in a hurry, the setup is perfect for one.

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The Front Man’s identity is eventually revealed, and it’s a family affair.

And let’s talk about the brothers. Police officer Hwang Jun-ho (Wi Ha-joon) infiltrates the game, hunting for his missing brother In-ho. Jun-ho escapes the game compound but is seemingly killed by The Front Man, who’s kind of the manager of the game. And The Front Man is revealed to be … Jun-ho’s missing brother, who we already learned won the game in 2015.

The brothers could return in a sequel, too. Jun-ho was shot in the shoulder (before falling off a cliff into water). So he might not be dead, though he doesn’t seem to have ratted out the game masterminds to his fellow cops, since the game is continuing. It wouldn’t be the only death fake-out in this show.

Squid Game on Netflix: What to know about the disturbing breakout hit

Innocent children’s games turn deadly in this Korean series that’s No. 1 on the streaming service.

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Desperate and in horrendous debt, the players of Squid Game risk their lives to play deadly children’s games in hope of a big payout.Netflix/Youngkyu Park

The No. 1 show on Netflix as of Monday is a Korean series with an odd name. Squid Game, released on Sept. 17, is a nine-episode series about a world where children’s games turn deadly. Squid Game is the first Korean drama to hit the No. 1 spot on Netflix, reaching that milestone just four days after its release. It’s bloody and violent, but it’s also addictive and bingeable. Here’s what to know about the wildly popular show.

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead, though I’ll only explain the basics of the show, not who lives or dies.

What’s Squid Game about?

Squid Game focuses on a desperately indebted group of people in South Korea. They’re first tricked into a deadly tournament of children’s games, but then many of them volunteer to come back, realizing the games may be their only chance to win the money they need to survive. Big bucks are at stake — 45 billion South Korean won, which translates to $38 million US (£27 million,  AU$52 million). But the odds of survival aren’t good. Think The Hunger Games only featuring contests such as Red Light, Green Light and marbles.

MORE SQUID GAME

You’ll get some Hunger Games flashbacks watching Squid Game, and there’s some throwbacks to Hostel and other horror flicks when a group of masked rich VIPs come to bet on and cheer on the deaths. But Squid Game doesn’t feel like a copycat — it’s a well-done drama/horror series. Rich backstories are developed not just for the desperate contestants, but for those running the game. Be sure not to miss the final episode, which is a real roller-coaster.

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On “Squid Game,” the contestants compete in children’s games with a deadly twist. Youngkyu Park / Netflix
  • Netflix’s South Korean drama “Squid Game” follows people competing for money in violent games.
  • Creator Hwang Dong-hyuk began working on the script in 2008, and it was originally a film.
  • The doll from the first game actually exists, and the phone number belongs to a real person.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The show was originally called something else.

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Netflix announced its plans for the series a few years ago. Netflix

Netflix announced plans for the series in September 2019, and it was originally called “Round Six.”

This collaboration with Netflix was creator Hwang Dong-hyuk’s first time working with an international entertainment company.

Hwang began working on the script over a decade ago.

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“Squid Game” wasn’t always easy to get funding for. Netflix

Hwang began working on his script in 2008 and finished the first draft of it in 2009. It took the writer and director nearly six months to write the first two episodes alone.

He told Radio Times that at the time the story felt “unfamiliar and violent” and he worried people would find it too abstract to be commercialized and find a wider audience.

The creator said he also struggled with funding and casting until Netflix picked it up about a decade later.

“But after about 12 years, the world has changed into a place where such peculiar, violent survival stories are actually welcomed,” he told The Korea Times.

“Squid Game” was originally meant to be a movie.

The uniformed Squid Game contestants crouching near their beds with one standing up
Hwang Dong-hyuk is a filmmaker. Netflix

In an interview with Variety, the creator said the project was also originally created as a feature film.

This isn’t too surprising, considering Hwang’s film background. He wrote and directed major hit movies like “Silenced” and “The Fortress.” He was also a screenwriter and director of the musical comedy “Miss Granny,” which is widely considered one of the most successful Korean films of all time.

The walls in the players’ room have doodles that foreshadow the games.

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The artwork foreshadows the games the players participate in. Netflix

The dorm walls, which are initially covered by beds, actually have drawings that serve as clues for the players to see which games will be played.

The first game’s doll is a real creation you can visit.

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The doll guards a museum. Netflix

The eerie oversized doll from the first episode of the show is real and can be found in Jincheon County, a rural area around three hours north of Seoul.

The doll was reportedly borrowed for filming “Squid Game” and then returned. According to Koreaboo, the doll guards the entrance of a horse-carriage museum.

The phone number in the first episode of the show is also real.

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The owner of the phone number reported getting thousands of calls each day. Netflix

Contestants get involved in the game by calling the eight-digit number on mysterious business cards.

Unfortunately, the phone number is real and belongs to a man who said he received about 4,000 calls a day. A South Korean presidential candidate actually offered to purchase the number from him.

One of the challenges in the show is now a TikTok trend.

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“Squid Game” has a game with dalgona candy. Netflix

The challenge with dalgona candy, a type of honeycomb toffee, has inspired TikTokers to create their own version.

The candy consists of two simple ingredients — sugar and baking soda — but the true challenge is eating around the image imprinted in the treat without breaking it.

“The production crew and I would joke about our series starting a dalgona craze, like how Netflix’s ‘Kingdom’ did with the gat ― a traditional Korean hat ― but I’m astounded that it actually happened,” the director told The Korea Times.

“Squid Game” might be helping to make similar shows popular on Netflix.

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A still from “Alice in Borderland.” Haro Aso,Shogakukan / ROBOT/Netflix

Forbes reported that “Squid Game” is boosting similar shows that aren’t in English.

Since the show’s release, both the Japanese thriller series “Alice in Borderland” and Korean drama “Sweet Home” have been trending on Netflix.

It’s on track to be one of the best-performing shows in Netflix history.

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“Squid Game” has been on US Netflix’s top 10 for a while. Netflix

The show is rapidly becoming a sensation and is the first Korean drama to rank No. 1 on Netflix’s top-10 show chart in the United States.

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said “Squid Game” has a very good chance of being the streaming service’s most popular show ever.

There aren’t yet any plans for a second season.

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The creator has some other projects he wants to work on first. Netflix

Hwang said he’d want to look into creating more movies before thinking about creating a second season of the show.

“I don’t have well developed plans for ‘Squid Game 2,'” he told Variety. “It is quite tiring just thinking about it. But if I were to do it, I would certainly not do it alone. I’d consider using a writers’ room and would want multiple experienced directors.”

Marwan Ghayad

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