Squid Games’ Games, Explained

Probably the most categorical joys of gazing Squid Recreation, the hit South Korean survival drama blowing up on Netflix, is how the display twists youth video games into life-or-death contests.

Whilst some video games from the display, like Tug-of-Struggle, are well-liked around the globe, a few of these video games will not be all too acquainted outdoor of South Korea. As any individual who grew up at the playgrounds of Seoul, there’s a deeper historical past in the back of the twisted, colourful competitions of Squid Recreation

Spoilers for the video games performed in Squid Recreation beneath.


The primary sport in Squid Recreation isn’t Crimson Mild, Inexperienced Mild, however fairly Ddakji, a Korean sport very similar to Pog. Initially of the collection the protagonist, Seong Gi-Hun is a deadbeat dad down on his good fortune and drowning in debt. Whilst looking forward to the subway a mysterious guy referred to as the Salesman approaches him with the chance to earn some fast money.

That is the place the 2 males start a sport of Ddakji, a sport the place gamers will have to use paper items and hit them in opposition to each and every different at the floor to turn the opposite participant’s piece.

When I used to be a child rising up in Seoul, Ddakji used to be the sport to play at the schoolyard. Pokemon had simply taken over the sector and in Korea, you must purchase rubber Ddakji items molded into the form of various Pokemon. If a participant had their Ddakji piece flipped over, the winner may stay the rubber token. This development used to be so well-liked it even had its personal small "Satanic Panic" when native information media as soon as reported the rubber used for Ddakji used to be toxic, inflicting concern amongst folks.

Crimson Mild, Inexperienced Mild

At a look, Crimson Mild, Inexperienced Mild turns out simple to grab however the model performed in Squid Recreation has distinctive Korean traits. In most cases, Crimson Mild, Inexperienced Mild is a sport the place one participant has their again to the wall whilst the remainder attempt to move the end line. Provided that they get stuck transferring right through a “pink mild,” they’re eradicated (optimistically no longer by the use of a sniper rifle).

As defined by way of sport fashion designer Jeeyon Shim in an excessively helpful Twitter thread, the model of Crimson Mild, Inexperienced Mild in Squid Recreation is a little other. In Korean, the sport is known as “무궁화 꽃 이 피었 습니다” or “The Mugunghwa (Hibiscus in Korean) Flower Is Blooming.” While in Crimson Mild, Inexperienced Mild the verdict for when gamers can run and when gamers have to forestall is simply on the discretion of the participant calling the colours, Mugunghwa depends on an excessively orderly cadence.

When you spotted in Squid Recreation the robotic lady says an excessively particular word, and it’s when she recites this word gamers are allowed to run in opposition to the end line. But if she ends the sentence, that’s when she turns her head indicating that any one stuck transferring right now will meet an premature finish.

The word by no means adjustments, which means that gamers will know when to run and when to forestall vs. the extra random Crimson Mild Inexperienced Mild variation. Alternatively, as Shim explains, the pace of the way you are saying the word will accelerate, making it increasingly tough as time is going on. “When you have been too conservative within the first rounds, you’ll have to hide extra distance because the spotter is going quicker, which means that expanding your personal pace, and extending the danger you gained’t have the ability to minimize your personal frame’s momentum brief when the spotter turns round,” Shim breaks down of their thread.

Honeycomb Sweet/Ppopgi

Within the Netflix translation, this sweet is confusingly known as “Honeycomb sweet” when it’s simply melted sugar with just a little baking soda jumbled together. Referred to as Ppogi (actually that means “to pluck” in Korean) this is a snack generally bought by way of boulevard distributors across the nation for not up to a greenback.

The painfully candy snack is generally cooked on a scorching plate right into a disc and as a little of amusing, Korean distributors will etch a form like a celeb or a triangle onto the sweet. Maximum distributors will supply a needle for you to take a look at and “pluck” the form from the sweet, even though given the concoction is 99 % sugar, the slightest mistake will crack the entire disc.

Some Ppogi distributors would even change effectively “plucked” shapes for small toy prizes. However it is a entice. The sweets are deceptively fragile and a few kids will finally end up ordering a couple of Ppogi to take a look at and win a prize, emptying their wallets and ruining their tooth within the procedure. Even in genuine lifestyles, Ppogi are crane video games in sweet shape.


This one is rather self-explanatory for any person aware of the preferred American health club workout. Throughout Asia, historic diversifications of Tug-of-Struggle have existed for 1000’s of years, together with Korea the place it’s referred to as Juldarigi (rope pulling).

In historic Korea, Tug-of-Struggle serves as a well-liked pageant sport, particularly right through the lunar pageant. Nowadays, Tug-of-Struggle continues to be performed right through Korean fairs the use of ropes as massive as tree trunks. It’s mentioned the staff that wins will be certain that a bountiful harvest for his or her village.

Glass Bridge

The glass bridge problem in Squid Recreation is maximum not at all in line with any particular sport kids play in Korea, and if it have been I surely don’t have survived to my present age. As an alternative, the set design for the glass bridge marks a turning level within the collection when it’s published that rich consumers collect to look at contestants play the Squid Recreation for his or her enjoyment.

The extent design for the glass bridge displays this disclose. As an alternative of happening in some twisted sport of a kids’s playground or community, the set for the glass bridge conjures up the sparkling lighting of a sport display level. The gamers at the moment are formally contestants at the global’s maximum unique and un-televised sport display, competing for the amusement of nameless rich consumers.

This could also be the sport the place a number of prior to now unknown contestants disclose that they spent years as glass-makers, reflecting the blue-collar, production background who’ve since been hit toughest by way of the economic system as their wages stagnate.

Squid Recreation

If there’s a world an identical to Squid Recreation I’d love to listen to it. Consistent with The Korea Instances, the Squid sport most probably originated someday right through the 1970s and 80s in South Korea’s post-war technology. There aren’t any data of the sport both ahead of the Korean struggle, nor used to be this a sport that endured to be performed by way of kids of next generations.

As defined within the display, Squid Recreation is performed on a board drawn in sand with gamers setting apart into two groups: assault and protection. Attacking gamers, who’re first of all handicapped by way of best being allowed to transport on one leg, will have to first advertise themselves to make use of each toes ahead of achieving a “house” sq. drawn into the sand.

Protecting gamers are tasked with preventing the attacking gamers by way of pushing them out of bounds. If the attacking participant reaches the house sq., they win, but when their staff is eradicated the protecting staff wins.

I gained’t presume to understand how this sport originated and there are only a few data, even in Korean, concerning the origins of the Squid Recreation. Alternatively, I’ve to believe that this being a sport that may be performed on any sand backyard would possibly have one thing to do with its upward push in reputation right through the 70s and 80s.

Because the economic system used to be nonetheless getting better from the Korean struggle, kids needed to in finding techniques to entertain themselves and a large number of playgrounds and schoolyards have been un-lawned fields covered in coarse sand. Grass fields weren’t not unusual even into the 90s after I grew up in Seoul. Whilst it allowed for youngsters to attract home made forums moderately simply, lending itself smartly to actions like Squid Recreation, in addition they harm like hell if you happen to fell.

With this added context believe revisiting the collection or, take a look at IGN’s overview of Squid Recreation season 1. The display’s reputation has been such that one deficient South Korean guy whose genuine telephone quantity used to be mistakenly utilized by the display has been bombarded with 1000’s of callers hoping for an opportunity to take part within the real-life dying sport.

Matt T.M. Kim is IGN's Information Editor and any individual who would have most probably been killed right through the honeycomb sport. You’ll be able to succeed in him @lawoftd.


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