Is ‘Squid Game’ Based on a True Story? Is It Real in Korea?

squid game based on true story

‘Squid Game’ has garnered attention throughout the internet for its deep and disturbing storytelling. The Netflix original has left fans intrigued about the possibility of a second season, and many people want to know what motivated screenwriter Hwang Dong-Hyuk to create the storyline.  Therefore, the real question lies; is ‘Squid Game’ based on a true story, and is it a real game in Korea?

  • Article Breakdown:
  • The show ‘Squid Game’ is not based on a true story, but it is a real game, although with different depictions in Korea.
  • The series’ director said that he was mostly motivated by survival comics like ‘Battle Royale’ and a personal experience with debt at the time the screenplay was written.

Fortunately, ‘Squid Game’ is not a real deal

squidgame unit still 1

‘Squid Game’ is not based on a true story, since no participants have been compelled to participate in lethal versions of kids’ games in real life. Creator Hwang Dong-hyuk took inspiration from Japanese manga and anime, with themes of survival striking a chord with the writer-director amid a difficult financial position, creating an allegory about contemporary capitalist society and the rivalry it fosters. However, Dong-hyuk stated that the title and climactic final challenge of ‘Squid Game’ were inspired by a childhood favorite game that was mostly available in Korea.

Hwang said in an online press conference that he was inspired to create the program after reading about survival games in comic books. 

After debuting with ‘My Father,’ I read a lot of comics and was mesmerized by survival games. With an attempt to create a Korean version, I started planning out the work in 2008 and finished the scenario in 2009.

According to him, it took him so long to create the idea because recruiting performers and securing financing in the late 2000s were tough procedures.

The idea of a game-winner who strikes it rich was unwelcomed. The brutality and cruelty of the games were of concern. I had to put the scenario on the shelf.

However, things changed over the next decade, and Hwang found widespread interest in his concept. He eventually decided to produce it as a Netflix series. When asked why he chose the name ‘Squid Game’ for the program, Hwang said that it was his favorite game as a kid and he enjoys how physically demanding it is. 

I thought the game was a perfect metaphor for our highly competitive society, so ‘Squid Game’ was a perfect name for this series.


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Many accused ‘Squid Game’ director Hwang Dong-hyuk of plagiarizing previous films and television programs with similar ideas. Dong-hyuk denied the allegations, claiming that most of his inspiration came from the Japanese comics and anime he devoured throughout his childhood.

Dong-hyuk was previously in a financially precarious position. He read many comics on the same subject during that period. ‘Squid Game’ was created by using what he learned from them and his own real-life experiences.

Many were able to get insight into the production of the violent thriller via the show’s official press release. Hwang Dong-hyuk and the production crew discussed some of the thinking processes and nuances that went into creating the sets.

‘Squid Game’ is a popular children’s game in South Korea

While ‘Squid Game’s’ portrayal of squid game is unique, the game itself is authentic. During the 1970s and 1980s, the real-life Korean version of Squid Game was a popular children’s game. It is defined as a “kind of tag in which the attack and defense utilize a dirt-drawn squid-shaped board.”

What are the Rules Of the Real Squid Game in Korea?

Is Squid Game Based on a True Story? Is it Real in Korea?

The squid game is a variant of the tag in which participants are split into two teams, one offensive, and one defensive. The objective of the game is for those on offense to tap their foot on the tiny region known as the squid’s head. The defense, on the other hand, is compelled to remain inside the squid-shaped limits of the dirt lines and try to tag those on the attack.


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In the squid game, attackers are only permitted to jump on one foot until they successfully cut through the squid’s midsection. The squid game then advances to the ultimate fight, in which the remaining attacking players must rush from the squid’s entrance to its head without being touched. However, if they are driven out of limits by a defender, they will perish.

Squid Game’s portrayal of the actual squid game’s rules is quite accurate, but the Netflix program adds some new wrinkles. Even though ‘Squid Game’ is a legitimate game in Korea, and a variation of it is shown here, viewers are sure to have some concerns about the rules.

Differences Between the Real Squid Game and Netflix Version

There is a huge difference between the real Squid Game and the Netflix version. First of all, the real Squid Game is depicted only in the final round of the competition in the Netflix version. There are six rounds in the Netflix version, as explained below:

First Round: Red light, Green Light

The series began with a Korean adaptation of “Red Light, Green Light,” a famous children’s game in other nations. The Korean title translates as “The mugunghwa blossom has bloomed.” Mugunghwa (in English, Sharon’s rose) is South Korea’s national flower.

The K-drama series places all 456 participants in a simulated open field environment, where they must work their way closer to a finish line near a huge robotic doll resembling a little child. The participants were only permitted to move until they heard the words “The mugunghwa flower has blossomed” (which are ominously transmitted in a child-like voice), after which they were required to remain immobile. Those who moved during the stillness were shot and removed from the game.

Second Round: Dalgona Candy Challenge

In the competition’s second round, participants were charged with carving various forms from Dalgona sweets, a kind of honeycomb biscuit.

Additionally referred to as bbopgi in Korean (which translates as “plucking” or “picking out” in English), the vintage crispy street snack made from melted sugar and baking soda was popular with children in the 1970s and 1980s.

It comes with a form pressed into it, and youngsters often attempt to eat around the shape without breaking it, which was the task set for players in the Squid Game series—except they were each given a small needle pin to do this. Players who violated the outline of the form they were assigned (a circle, triangle, star, or umbrella) were instantly shot dead.

Third Round: Tug of War

This globally popular children’s game was the competition’s third obstacle. The competitors were split into groups and forced to compete in tug-of-war matches against one another. The game is played on an elevated platform with a wide gap in the center separating the two teams. The players’ wrists are tied to the tug-of-war rope.

Once the losing team was pushed over the edge of the platform and fell through the gap, a huge guillotine severed the rope, allowing the defeated players to plummet to their deaths.


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Fourth Round: Marbles

The competition’s fourth game was based on marbles, another famous vintage childhood pastime worldwide.

For this round, participants were divided into pairs and competed against one another inside the pair. They were permitted to play whatever marble game they pleased, and some were seen estimating how many marbles the other person had in their hand, while others tossed the marbles on the ground toward a target.

Each participant was handed ten marbles, and to win the game, one person needed to take all ten of the other player’s marbles, with the loser being instantly shot dead by a staff member.

Fifth Round: Stepping Stone Bridge

The subject of the final match of the survival tournament was the stepping stone bridge game, which involves youngsters walking over stones sticking out of a stream or river to reach the other side.

The series’ stepping bridge was made of glass panels rather than stones and was positioned at a dangerously high height. Each player has to go over the bridge. Some of the panels were tempered glass, while others were composed of regular glass. As a result, depending on whatever panel they stood on, some gamers fell to their deaths.

Final Round: The Squid Game

The final round of the competition was the Squid Game, a children’s street game that was played by many Koreans in their childhood, including the series’ director Hwang Dong-hyuk.

The game pits two individuals (or teams) against one another inside a grid painted on the ground that resembles the shape of a squid. Before the game begins, it must be determined who or which team will play attacker (offense) and who will play defense, since each position has certain limitations.

The narrator explains the rules of the retro game in the first scene of the Squid Game series, which features children playing the game. “In order to win, the attackers must tap the small closed-off space on the squid’s head with their foot. But if someone on the defense manages to push you outside the squid’s boundary, you die,” as the narrator puts it.

Each participant also uses a knife in the current series’ edition of the game as they fight it out in the competition’s bloodiest round.

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