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‘Squid Game’ Creator Hwang Dong-hyuk Defends Netflix Reality Series: Fans Shouldn’t ‘Take Things Too Seriously’

"Squid Game: The Challenge" pits real-life contestants against one another in a battle for $4.56 million, murder not included.

Close up of a man intensely examining a cookie while hooded guards in red walk around behind him; still from "Squid Game."

“Squid Game”

Netflix

Emmy-winning “Squid Game” creator Hwang Dong-hyuk is giving the Netflix reality series “Squid Game: The Challenge” the green light.

Following backlash to the news that the indictment of capitalism found in the life-or-death “Squid Game” contest would be turned into a reality competition series for the streamer, Hwang clarified that the $4.56 million cash prize for the separate series does not undercut his intentions with the scripted drama.

“I think that even though our show does carry quite a heavy message — and I know that there are some concerns of taking that message and creating it into a reality show with a cash prize,” Hwang said backstage at the 2022 Emmys, via Variety. “However, I feel like when you take things too seriously, that’s really not the best way to go for the entertainment industry. It doesn’t really set a great precedent.”

Reality show “Squid Game: The Challenge” is set to make history as the largest reality show ever with 456 real players competing for a multi-million dollar cash prize. Contestants compete through a series of games inspired by the original show, while new additions, strategies, alliances, and characters are put to the test as competitors are eliminated around them.

“‘Squid Game’ took the world by storm with director Hwang’s captivating story and iconic imagery. We’re grateful for his support as we turn the fictional world into reality in this massive competition and social experiment,” Brandon Riegg, Netflix VP of unscripted and documentary series, said. “Fans of the drama series are in for a fascinating and unpredictable journey as our 456 real-world contestants navigate the biggest competition series ever, full of tension and twists, with the biggest ever cash prize at the end.”

The 10-episode competition series will be filmed in the U.K. The international series, inspired by the Korean drama of the same name, is currently casting.

“Squid Game” made history at the 2022 Emmy Awards with Hwang winning best director for the pilot episode, “Red Light, Green Light.” Lead star Lee Jung-Jae became the first Asian actor ever to win the best actor award for a drama series.

“I would say that reproductions of such efforts are going to bring new meaning to the industry, and I hope that this is going to be a great new direction for the industry overall,” Hwang said after his Emmys win.

The series was nominated for 16 Emmys and won six after breaking Netflix streaming records. “Squid Game” Season 2 is currently underway.

Hwang previously said in 2021 that he was “getting a lot of pressure” about penning the second installment.

“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,” Hwang explained. “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.”

Hwang later revealed that production companies initially thought the series was “too unrealistic and too violent, that it was just way too far from reality.” Now, it seems like the Netflix move to a “Squid Game” reality show is stranger than fiction after all.

Hwang additionally is developing a satire series inspired by the making of “Squid Game,” titled “The Best Show on the Planet.”

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