SQUID GAME takes over Netflix and social media, but Hwang Dong-hyuk is no newcomer to the game


You have probably seen, or at least heard of Squid game, the Korean Survival / Action / Drama series which premiered last month on Netflix and quickly became one of Netflix’s most popular shows on the platform.

Part of that is due to the quality of the show itself, of course, and let’s be clear, the show is very, VERY Well; one of Netflix’s most ambitious and experimental ventures in recent years. But you can’t ignore the other very important aspect of the film’s success, and that is its grip on social media. Now, of course, in the age of streaming, we talk about shows all the time on social media – it’s a natural phenomenon – but Squid game, in particular, has it right now.

(No offense to The crown, its presence on Twitter has nothing to envy to the discussion capacity that Squid game To.)

From people revealing that they had never heard of Red Light, Green Light before, to critical discussions about the accuracy of the show’s translation, suffice it to say that there are many conversations going on at About the show.

However, one of them particularly marked me personally – one that focused on the series creator, Hwang Dong-hyuk.

600k + Likes and it counts. And that doesn’t even take into account general impressions, which means the tweet is likely to have been seen by millions of people. Many responses have taken the form of positive affirmations. ‘

“Believe in yourself”, “Things take time.” “Always bet on yourself for the long haul.

Others took the tweet in a less positive way, showing concern or fear of having their art consistently denied for years until someone else decides that he was valuable.



I found both forms of response and the initial tweet itself a bit odd, as they seem to infer that Hwang Dong-hyuk had not been successful until Netflix decided to produce. Squid game.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

To be fair, Hwang Dong-hyuk doesn’t have the same Western popularity as the must-see Korean directors, namely Park Chan-Wook or Bong Joon-Ho. In fact, when you search for Hwang Dong-hyuk’s name on Google, you get more images related to Squid game than Hwang himself, and it’s a testament to Dong-hyuk’s creative resilience that he still completed the project he wanted after years of transmission. However, the director / screenwriter has had a largely successful career for ten years now in his home country of South Korea.

His 2011 film Quiet was her first success in Korea, after a career in shorts and her first independent film My father, in 2007. Quiet starry future Train to Busan stars Gong Yoo and Jung Yu-mi. Based on real events in South Korea in the early 2000s, it covered an abuse scandal at a school for the hearing impaired, and the subsequent leniency towards perpetrators by police and courts.

Not only was the film a financial success, with over 4.5 million tickets sold and $ 30 million at the box office, but the film also sparked public interest in the actual case and discussions on the corruption and light penalties for child abuse. The school where the actual events occurred was closed, new arrests with heavy penalties were made, and the Korean National Assembly, the equivalent of Congress or Parliament, passed a law removing the statute of limitations for the ill-treatment of thirteen-year-old disabled children under the law.

Now that might just be an opinion, and I know everyone has it, but I would say having a movie that literally passed a legislative change in your country is kind of an indicator of success.

His career hardly ended there, with his next film Miss Granny with over eight million tickets sold and sales of over $ 50 million in Korea. This placed it in the top thirty highest grossing Korean films. twenty-seventh, to be exact. For comparison, Parasite is nineteenth, and the equivalent rank for the United States is Pirates of the Caribbean: The Dead Man’s Chest. His latest film project, The fortress as of 2017, was also successful, opening at number one.

Now at this point a good question would be what his career summary has to do with a tweet that could ultimately be considered benign.

Well I think that indicates some interesting things. One being how less than accurate stories can start and go viral on social media. 620,000 likes, 113,000 retweets and 16,000 quote tweets, many of whom believe Dong-hyuk is only trying to get Squid game off the ground for over 10 years, struggling the whole way. Again, while this is in theory a benign misrepresentation, it is nonetheless. It would be just as inappropriate to be in South Korea and frame a new Seth Rogen project as his big breakup and success just in case he has a popular show there.

But on a more nuanced level, how the Western public measures success.

While yes, it’s a pretty objective fact to say that making a deal with Netflix and having your show become its number one product is a huge deal, but Hwang Dong-hyuk is one of South Korea’s most influential directors. 2010s. He just wouldn’t have gotten his deal with Netflix if he hadn’t shown his track record of both critical and financial success.

But many people based outside of Asia are unaware of his success in his home country. The measure of success is based on revolutionary creators, those whose work fits the Western audience for one reason or another i.e.Bong Joon-Ho, Park Chan-Wook. He’s not a hit until he’s a hit in the United States (pun intended).

Now, this is by no means done maliciously. Consumption of Korean movies or TV by many people is relegated to a handful of TV shows or movies that spread through word of mouth or online speech, especially if they are not actively researching Korean media .

Then there is the separate conversation about when said Korean media gets a proper translation, if it ever gets some kind of distribution outside of Korea, and the ways in which we can – legally – watch it. Granted, there are a lot of factors at play here, but in the internet age, especially if you’re going to make a statement like the aforementioned tweet did, let’s make an effort here.

Let’s give Hwang Dong-hyu his due.

He is much more than his first fights and Squid game.

Squid game is now streaming on Netflix. Click below to watch now:


About Monty S. Maynard

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