Kathleen A. Llemit – Philstar.com

September 24, 2021 | 5:07pm

MANILA, Philippines — Survival game-themed series have become popular of late, with a lot of titles trying to push the limit on how much of the macabre and violence viewers can take.

Netflix just freshly dropped “Squid Game” last September 17, but the series has been written more than a decade before the genre even became popular these days.

Director Hwang Dong-hyuk revealed that he had written the script for “Squid Game” in 2008 even before his acclaimed film “Silenced” was released in 2011.

“At the time, it seemed very unfamiliar and violent. There were people who thought it was a little too complex and not commercial. I wasn’t able to get enough investment and casting was difficult. I dabbled in it for about a year, but I had to put it to sleep then,” Hwang explained.

WATCH: ‘Squid Game’ behind-the-scenes 

 

Just like the Gong Yoo starrer “Silenced,” Hwang also wrote and directed “Squid Game” which he said was written at a time when he frequented comic book stores. He finished writing it a year later, in 2009.

It tells the story of a group of cash-strapped players who accept an invitation to compete in children’s games. A whopping 45.6 billion won (roughly P1.9 billion) await the ultimate winner, but it comes with a deadly prize.  

“It’s kind of a sad story, but this deadly game compares quite a bit to the things we see today such as investing in coins and such. Times have changed and people have told me that it reminds them of things that are happening in this tough society. With that, I expanded the story about two years ago and now we are here,” he added.

So, what exactly is a “Squid Game”? Here are some trivia about the latest Korean drama to hit the giant streaming service.

1. “Squid Game” is inspired by various children’s games with a twist.

Director Hwang said that he was inspired by the games that he used to play when he was a child. These games were often played in schoolyard or neighborhood streets.

“I felt that this game could be the most symbolic children’s game that could represent the kind of society we live in today,” he explained.

2. Believe it or not, the actors played the game with real, large-scale sets.

All of the show’s stars, from Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Jung Ho-yeon, Heo Sung-tae and Wi Ha-jun, had fun running through the set and even picked their favorites.

Lee, who plays problematic Gi-hun who went through business failure, divorce and gambling issues, loved the first game set.

Park also feels the same. He plays Sang-woo, head of an investment team at a securities company and Gi-hun’s childhood friend.

Heo Sung-tae plays gangster Deok-su, a role he said he’s used to playing in other films. He’s reunited with Hwang after they worked on the epic historical film “The Fortress” in 2017. He revealed that there are a lot of hidden details in the sets.

3. It is “Korea’s Top Model” contestant Jung Ho-yeon’s acting debut.

Vogue called Jung as “Korea’s Top Model ” which eventually prompted the statuesque Elite Model talent to join the namesake reality model search in 2013. She ended up second to the winner Shin Hyun-ji.

Jung auditioned for the role of the pickpocket Sae-byeok, who lived a tough life after defecting from North Korea. She was in New York preparing for a fashion week. She flew straight to Korea from New York for the “Squid Game” auditions.

“I auditioned a lot of actresses for the role, but I wasn’t able to find a perfect fit. I was able to watch her audition tape and I felt right away that she was perfect for the role of Sae-byeok due to her tone, glare, and aura,” shared Hwang.

4. Out of all the cast members, only Wi Ha-jun is willing to bet on his life.

Wi might play Joon-ho, the cop who infiltrates the game, is the only one who would give the game a chance in real life. All the other actors said they would not even think about joining and that life is not all about money.

Even Hwang does not think so. He revealed that he wrote “Squid Game” at a time when he was in debt and even wished he had chanced upon a similar game at that time.

5. The cast is in it because of Hwang.

The way the cast spoke of Hwang at the virtual presser was like a kid who met his teen idol.

Hwang often writes and directs his own material.

From his debut full feature, the family drama based on a true event “My Father” in 2007, to “Silenced,” “The Fortress” and the fantasy romantic comedy “Miss Granny,” Hwang was able to demonstrate his range as screenplay writer, director and producer.





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