Squid Game‘s director Hwang Dong-hyuk has revealed that many of the show’s characters are drawn from his real life.
Dong-hyuk believes that viewers around the world resonate with the theme of economic inequality found in the movie, reports The Guardian.
The paper said that since Squid Game‘s debut on Netflix last month, the show has blown up, becoming Netflix’s most popular series at launch.
The dystopian nine-part series follows 456 debt-ridden individuals as they try to win 45.6 billion won (£24 million) by playing children’s games with a dark twist; you lose, you die.
The games were traditional children games, all of which Dong-hyuk played growing up in Seoul.
Dong-hyuk’s works have consistently and critically responded to social ills, power and human suffering, and he based several of its highly flawed yet relatable characters on himself.
Hwang’s works have consistently and critically responded to social ills, power and human suffering, and he based several of its highly flawed yet relatable characters on himself.
Like Sang-woo, a troubled investment banker in the series, Dong-hyuk is also a graduate of South Korea’s elite Seoul National University (SNU) with financial problems despite his degree.
Dong-hyuk, like Gi-hun, was raised by a widowed mother, and the low-income family lived in the kind of subterranean semi-basement housing.
Dong-hyuk also told AFP he was inspired to create Ali from one of his first experiences abroad.
“Korea is a very competitive society. I was lucky enough to survive the competition and entered a good university,” he said.
“But when I visited the UK at age 24, a white staff member at airport immigration gave me a dismissive look and made discriminatory comments. I find it truly shocking to this day.”
“I think I was someone like Ali back then.”
Hwang Dong-hyuk told The Guardian that despite the show’s popularity, he hasn’t received a bonus.
“I’m not that rich, but I do have enough. I have enough to put food on the table. Netflix paid me according to the original contract.”