Hwang Dong-hyuk, the creator of Netflix’s Squid Game, has said the show’s astronomical success has not translated into personal wealth for him.
Dong-hyuk said he’s not quite as rich as the protagonist of the show — gambling addict Seong Gi-Hun (Lee Jung-Jae) who joins the deadly games as Player No 456 — but that he definitely has “enough to put food on the table”.
The writer explained that the streaming service paid him as much as his original contract stipulated — eye-popping viewership figures notwithstanding.
“It’s not like Netflix is paying me a bonus,” he told The Guardian.
At the time that the contract was being drawn up, however, no one would have predicted that the Korean show would become Netflix’s most successful series ever. The platform has claimed that 142 million households have watched the show, which was rejected by South Korean TV executives for a decade.
On the subject of a second season, Dong-hyuk said that it was being considered, before good-naturedly adding: “It’s possible that I have to do season two to become as rich as Squid Game’s winner.”
Among other things, Dong-hyuk also discussed the inspiration for his smash hit.
After his family was impacted by the crippling financial crisis that struck South Korea in 2009, Dong-hyuk said he found solace between the pages of survival game comics like Battle Royale and Liar Game because he related to characters “who were desperate for money and success”. He said: “If there was a survival game like these in reality, I wondered, would I join it to make money for my family?”
Squid Game pits 456 debt-ridden players against each other, as they compete in a series of children’s games to win an enormous cash prize. Those that lose are eliminated from the competition or shot dead immediately.
Ultimately, Dong-hyuk said, the show is “motivated by a simple idea: we are fighting for our lives in very unequal circumstances”.
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