1.Squid Game creator Hwang Dong-hyuk originally came up with the idea for the show in 2008, when he was in a lot of debt and his family was struggling financially.
2.The script initially took a year to write, but it was rejected everywhere until being picked up by Netflix 10 years later, in 2019.
3.Hwang originally wrote it as a movie, and when he decided to turn it into the series, he fleshed out the games more and added characters like Jun-ho, who wasn't in the first draft.
4.Hwang says the title and key game are inspired by the real squid game, which was his favorite thing to play as a child. He chose it because he felt that it symbolizes society.
5.Hwang had Lee Jung-jae and Park Hae-soo in mind for the roles of Gi-hun and Sang-woo from the start — but for roles like Sae-byeok, Il-nam, and Ali, he deliberately searched for actors who were not well known.
6.He says casting Sae-byeok was difficult, but as soon as he saw the audition tape of Jung Ho-yeon — who was working in New York as a model at the time — he knew he'd found the right person for the role.
7.Ji-young was originally a boy, but Hwang changed the character to be a girl. His intent was to explore the bond between two women, something that is apparent when she and Sae-byeok immediately connect.
8.The giant doll from "Red Light, Green Light" is based on iconic character illustrations from children’s textbooks in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
9.For the Dalgona Challenge, the crew brought in an expert to make real dalgona for three days while filming took place — meaning the set smelled like sugar.
10.And the playground set was made HUGE to resemble the way real playgrounds feel so big when you're a kid.
11.To film the tug-of-war scene, a machine was used to "tug" on the other side of the rope, which the actors say made it really difficult and exhausting.
12.And the set for the glass stepping stones game was over a meter above the ground, which made the cast genuinely scared.
13.The dorm was designed to look like a warehouse, highlighting the way the humans in it are treated as objects.
14.The coffins were shaped like gift boxes to signify the way the creator of the game felt as though he was a god, giving contestants a gift even in death.
15.Art director Chae Kyung-sun was inspired by fencing masks — as well as traditional Korean masks called Haehotal — for the staff's masks.
16.The design of the room with the incinerators was modeled after the Auschwitz concentration camp.
17.Lee Jung-jae worked closely with Hwang on set in order to enhance Gi-hun's characterization, and make sure he was likable. For example, the moment in Episode 1 where he runs into Sae-byeok and pauses to pick up her coffee was improvised.