Squid Game gains popularity among BHS students
Note: This article contains spoilers.
By Hialeah Bever
The South Korean drama, “Squid Game,” has captured the attention of audiences in the United States and with its violent premise and drama-filled storyline, and it’s captivated the students at BHS too. After its recent win against "Bridgerton" for the biggest launch of a Netflix original show, “Squid Game” has become a popular topic among the student body. As a recent student survey showed, 79 percent of students have seen at least one episode.
As a K-drama, “Squid Game” is a part of the Korean cultural renaissance that has been developing in recent decades. Korean artists, music producers, and film directors have been able to experiment with their respective arts as they’ve gained more freedom, all thanks to the introduction of constitutional democracy in 1987, which replaced the previous military regimes that held power.
The most notable media that has emerged from the Korean renaissance, that BHS students can recall, includes PSY’s hit song “Gangnam Style,” the K-pop boy group, BTS, and the academy-award-winning film “Parasite.” But none of those outlets have connected with the general BHS student body in the same way “Squid Game” has.
“The episodes were addicting and it kept making me want to watch it. While it is definitely not for the younger eyes, seeing the overall story and having empathy for the players, understanding why they needed to do this, kept me engaged,” said Avery Franzman.
“The whole show focuses on what a person does when the government pushes you into really bad poverty,” said Jenna Hancock. “I feel like there are a lot of people, globally, that can relate to that. Poverty is rampant everywhere, so you can understand how someone would put their morals aside for their family.”
But the relatable storyline was not the online aspect of the show that interested viewers; the option to watch “Squid Game” dubbed, or with an English voiceover, led many students to it in the first place. According to the BHS poll, 61 percent of students watched the dubbed episodes, compared to the 36 percent that watched it with subtitles.
“Having English spoken over what the Korean actors were saying was kind of weird in a way, but it made me feel like I could understand the show better,” said Franzman.
Though the dubbed version of “Squid Game'' may be more popular, the voiceover has gotten some backlash for being mistranslated and for the poor performance done by the voice actors.
“I honestly didn’t want to try it. In my experience, I’ve watched anime before and the voice never matches the mouth and it just bothers me,” said Seika Hicock. “The voices can get annoying because they try to match the actions of the characters but it doesn’t really work. Watching the show through the subtitles was more organic, and I enjoyed that version.”
But whether students watched it dubbed or subbed, “Squid Game” is a popular topic among friends. Topics range from discussing the details of the games, opinions on characters, or envisioning themselves in the contest itself.
“I’ve got pretty good luck, so the game where they jump across the glass bridge, I think I would be pretty good at that. Also, the Dalgona breaking game would be pretty interesting for me as well,” said Hancock.
But the BHS poll reveals that 67 percent of students believe they would be best at the game, Red Light, Green Light.
“I’d be best at the Red Light, Green Light game; it’s pretty simple. Plus, I have the athleticism for that game, it would just be difficult to get the mentality to win,” said Franzman.
Not only do students discuss the games, but the characters as well. The two “Squid Game” players that were most popular are Kang Sae-Byeok and Seong Gi-Hun.
“I really loved Sae-Byeok and Ji-Yeong, so their endings were really sad for me. Also the cousin of the main character, Cho-Sangwoo, I really loved him up until his choices in the last two episodes,” said Hancock.
“All of the characters were cool and their arcs were fun to watch. I really like Ali, he’s so sweet so it absolutely broke my heart when Sang-woo betrayed him,” said Hicock.
And since 51 percent of BHS students confirmed that they would rather be a contestant instead of a guard, another important question arose. Do students think they could win? “I would definitely not win. Nope, I have the worst luck. I remember when they were playing the Dalogna honeycomb game, and I thought ‘Oh that’s fun! I’m going to choose star because my name has that word in Japanese,’” said Hicock. “Then, I would immediately die.”
“I think that if I really wanted to I could, but I also could not imagine myself thinking ‘It’s me or you, one of us has to die.’ I would win it but I would feel awful about myself forever. (I) would never recover,” said Hancock.
Despite the outcome of the games, it is obvious that many students relate to the varying storylines and empathize with the difficult choices the characters had to make. This hit K-drama is expected to receive a season two as it continues to break Netflix records and solidify its position as a western cultural phenomenon. Along with the rest of the United States, BHS students are obsessed with the terror and intimacy of the famed “Squid Game.”
“The world isn’t a nice place - it can be rough. And these characters interacting with the world, having both good and bad attributes, make them seem more real,” said Hicock. “It’s as if they were just another person. They could be one of us.”
Hialeah Bever is a junior. This is her second year
with The Growl and her first as editor.