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North Korea Salutes ‘Squid Game’ for Critiquing South Korea’s ‘Beastly’ Capitalist Society

The viral drama quickly became Netflix's most popular series ever launched by the streamer.

"Squid Game"

“Squid Game”

Netflix

A state-run North Korean propaganda website is the latest to weigh in on Netflix’s wildly popular “Squid Game,” applauding what it believes to be the drama’s depiction of the “beastly reality” of the South’s capitalist society. (Via Insider.)

The website Arirang Meari published an article about the Korean-language Netflix hit, which since launching on September 17 has become the most popular series ever to debut on the platform. The website praises the show’s vision of South Korea as a place where “corruption and immoral scoundrels are commonplace” in an “unequal society where people are treated like chess pieces.”

The show is the story of 456 South Koreans facing insurmountable debt who vie in deadly challenges, modeled after children’s schoolyard games, to garner a prize of $38 million (or 45.6 billion Korean won). The series has already racked up over 111 million viewers.

“‘Squid Game’ makes people realize the sad reality of the beastly South Korean society in which human beings are driven into extreme competition, and their humanity is wiped out,” an anonymous author wrote for Arirang Meari.

This is not the first time North Korea has commended a piece of international pop culture to come out of the South. Last February, Reuters reported that North Korean media outlets praised the Oscar Best Picture winner “Parasite” for “starkly” exposing the rich-poor gap in the South.

Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea, has previously called South Korean pop culture a “vision cancer” and has long-banned South Korean dramas and K-Pop in the North. As reported by BBC in June, those found participating or engaging in such pop cultural commodities could face penalties, including jail time. Further, a law introduced in December has called for up to 15 years of labor time for those caught engaging in South Korean entertainment — with the death penalty a possibility for those found distributing it, per NBC.

While the nine-part series “Squid Game” was initially intended as a standalone, pressures are mounting for director Hwang Dong-hyuk to deliver a sequel.

“I’m getting a lot of pressure on Season 2,” he told IndieWire. “I still have the story about the Front Man and his relationship with his brother, the policeman. And people are also curious about where Gi-hun is headed in the finale because he turns away from the plane. I think I do have the obligation to explain it to the fans and I’m thinking about Season 2, but at the time, I was so tired after finishing Season 1, I couldn’t really think of Season 2. But now that it’s become such a big hit, people would hate me if I don’t make a Season 2, so I feel a lot of pressure and think I’d have to. The big success of Season 1 is a big reward to me, but at the same time it’s given me a lot of pressure.”

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