The buzz about “Squid Game” hit the radar of North Korea’s repressive socialist dictatorship, which slammed the Netflix breakout hit as proof that South Korea’s capitalist culture is a “beastly” failure.
North Korean propaganda site Arirang Meari, in a report about “Squid Game,” excoriated the high-concept survival drama as depicting the “sad reality of a beastly South Korean society.”
“ ‘Squid Game’ gained popularity because it exposes the reality of South Korean capitalist culture,” the site wrote in the Oct. 12 article, as first reported by Reuters. The show reveals “a world where only money matters — a hell-like horror” and where “corruption and immoral scoundrels are commonplace.”
“It is the current South Korean society where the number of losers in fierce competition such as employment, real estate and stocks increases dramatically,” the Arirang Meari article said.
Netflix did not respond to a request for comment.
“Squid Game” is Netflix’s most popular original series ever in its initial release, according to the streamer. Netflix said the ultraviolent K-drama has been sampled by 111 million members in the 25 days since its Sept. 17 premiere, topping the numbers pulled in by “Bridgerton” Season 1 in its first four weeks of release. (Note, however, Netflix’s proprietary metric measures any account that streams a title for at least 2 minutes.)
In “Squid Game,” 456 desperately debt-stricken contestants compete in a deadly competition of mysterious origin, pitting them against each other in a series of Korean children’s games for the chance to win 45.6 billion won (about $38.5 million) in prize money.
A story arc that may have particularly incensed the North Korea regime involves one of the “Squid Game” players who is a North Korean defector: Kang Sae-byeok (Jung Ho-yeon) has entered the death-match tournament to win money so she can get her younger brother out of an orphanage and rescue her mother, who was detained in China after escaping North Korea.
“Squid Game” creator and director Hwang Dong-hyuk has said he intended the series to highlight the growing wealth gap in the modern world.
“I wanted to write a story that was an allegory or fable about modern capitalist society, something that depicts an extreme competition, somewhat like the extreme competition of life,” he told Variety in an interview last month.
Pictured above: The Front Man (Lee Byung-hun) in “Squid Game” who oversees the deadly competition