Netflix series ‘Squid Game’ accused of plagiarizing parts of Japanese film ‘As the Gods Will’

Squid Game accused of plagiarism

South Korean survival drama show “Squid Game,” which premiered on Netflix on Sept. 17, is being accused of plagiarism by some online.

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead. 

About the series: Written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk (“The Fortress,” “Miss Granny”), the nine-episode series tells the story of a group of characters risking their lives to win 45.6 billion won ($38.5 million) in a mysterious survival game.

  • “Squid Game” stars actors Lee Jung-jae (“Il Mare,” “The Thieves”), Park Hae-soo (“Prison Playbook,” “Time to Hunt”) and model Jung Ho-yeon.
  • The show’s plot follows the “Deadly Game” theme, a common trope used in popular media involving characters being forced to compete in a dangerous contest, often resulting in death.
  • “Squid Game” has received positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, getting a collated 100% critics score and 89% audience score, as of this writing.   

Alleged “scene-stealer”: Some social media users have pointed out similarities between “Squid Game” and “As The Gods Will,” a popular 2014 Japanese film that also features deadly physical games.

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  • One Twitter user pointed out that the first game in both titles had the same rules and punishments for players. “As The Gods Will” used the Japanese game of “daruma” while “Squid Game” used “Red Light, Green Light,” which is also a children’s game played in Korea called “Hibiscus Flowers Have Bloomed.”
  • In both games, one “seeker” faces the wall or a tree for a short period of time before suddenly turning around to catch any player that moves. In “Squid Game,” those caught moving were shot, while in “As The Gods Will” their heads exploded.
  • The user posted images of similar scenes from the two films, including close-up shots of the giant dolls, the countdown clock and the scene where a character dove at the last second.
  • Another game, which involved contestants hopping on glass tiles, was said to be inspired by the manga version of “As The Gods Will.”
Image via @ObviouslyNotSimon via Reddit

Response to criticism: During the press conference for “Squid Game,” Hwang addressed the alleged similarities, saying he wrote the script a couple of years before “As The Gods Will,” which was created in the early 2010s, reported NME

  • “It is true that [the first game is] similar, but after that, there aren’t any similarities,” he was quoted as saying. “I worked on [Squid Game in] 2008 and 2009, and at the time, the first game [had already been] fixed as ‘Red Light Green Light.’”
  • The filmmaker added that while claiming ownership of the story was something he was hesitant about, “If I had to say it, I would say I did it first.” 
  • In an interview with Korea Herald, he shared that he became fascinated with the survival genre after reading a lot of comics.  “With an attempt to create a Korean version, I started planning out the work in 2008 and finished the scenario in 2009.”
  • He revealed that he was forced to shelve the script due to lack of interest until it was picked up as a Netflix series about a decade later.

Featured Image via Fra77777777

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