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19 "Squid Game" Facts That Make You Appreciate The Show Even More

It was originally meant to be a movie.

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.

Gi-hun stands next to a seated Sang-woo; they both smoke
YOUNGKYU PARK  / Netflix

He read comics like Battle Royale to distract himself. When he contemplated participating in such deadly games for a huge prize, he set out to explore what they would look like in a Korean setting. 

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.

Hwang Dong-hyuk speaks to Lee Jung-jae and Park Hae-soo on set
YOUNGKYU PARK  / Netflix / Via Netflix

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.

Jun-ho kneels down with a torch in a dark area
YOUNGKYU PARK  / Netflix

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.

A group of boys play squid game
Netflix

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.

Sang-woo, Gi-hun and Sae-byeon stand together in the dorm
YOUNGKYU PARK  / Netflix

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.

Close-up of Sae-byeok's face
Netflix

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.

Close up of Ji-young smiling
Netflix

8. The giant doll from "Red Light, Green Light" is based on iconic character illustrations from children’s textbooks in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

close-up of the giant robotic doll leaning against a tree in Red Light Green Light as the contestants crowd in the distance
YOUNGKYU PARK  / Netflix

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.

Gi-hun holds up his piece of dalgona and looks at it
YOUNGKYU PARK  / Netflix

10. And the playground set was made HUGE to resemble the way real playgrounds feel so big when you're a kid.

The contestants kneel on the ground in a huge playground set with the guards watching over them
YOUNGKYU PARK  / Netflix

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.

Gi-hun and Sang-woo look pained as they play tug of war
Netflix

12. And the set for the glass stepping stones game was over a meter above the ground, which made the cast genuinely scared.

Players are seen from above on a glass stepping stone bridge
Netflix

13. The dorm was designed to look like a warehouse, highlighting the way the humans in it are treated as objects.

The bunk beds in the dorm are in disarray
YOUNGKYU PARK / Netflix

The bunk beds symbolize shelves in the warehouse, as well as seats in a battle arena. Plus, they reinforce the theme of the competitive and hierarchical nature of society.

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.

Three staff stand around two coffins
YOUNGKYU PARK / Netflix

15. Art director Chae Kyung-sun was inspired by fencing masks — as well as traditional Korean masks called Haehotal — for the staff's masks.

A row of staff members stand in front of their rooms
YOUNGKYU PARK / Netflix

16. The design of the room with the incinerators was modeled after the Auschwitz concentration camp.

The staff shuffle coffins into incinerators
Netflix

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.

Gi-hun runs away as Sae-byeok kneels on the ground holding a cup of iced coffee
Netflix

The scene they used was originally an outtake because Jung Ho-yeon started laughing at Lee's fumbling — if you watch closely, you can see her shoulders shaking as Gi-hun runs away. 

18. Filming wrapped in November 2020.

Hwank Dong-hyuk directs actors on set
YOUNGKYU PARK / Netflix

19. If there is a Season 2 of Squid Game, Hwang says it will explore the story of the Front Man.

The masked Front Man walks down a corridor
YOUNGKYU PARK / Netflix

What were some of your favorite moments from Squid Game? Let us know in the comments below!