Grab ‘em by the…balls? ‘Squid Game’ director compares VIP character to Donald Trump

Squid Game and Donald Trump

Warning: Contains spoilers

Creator of Netflix’s global sensation “Squid Game ” Hwang Dong-hyuk recently revealed that the show’s social commentary was based on global events and crises beginning in 2008. The dystopian nature of the violent horror series, he says, resembled what became of Donald Trump’s presidency in the United States. 

A satire: Hwang, the show’s director and writer for all nine episodes, spoke to Indiewire via translator about how he came to satirize capitalism in “Squid Game.”  

  • He began conceiving “theories” for the series in 2008 when the Lehman Brothers investment bank collapsed, leading to the global crisis.
  • “The Korean economy was badly affected and I was also economically struggling,” he said. 
  • He cited more economic concerns including the “cryptocurrency boom” and the “rise of IT giants” before landing on the monumental U.S. presidential election in 2016. 
  • “Donald Trump became the president of the United States and I think he kind of resembles one of the VIPs in the ‘Squid Game.’ It’s almost like he’s running a game show, not a country, like giving people horror. After all these issues happened, I thought it was about time that this show goes out into the world.”
  • The VIPs are the villainous, mega-rich characters that place bets on the players as they’re gruesomely killed off. In one climactic scene, a VIP is painfully grabbed by his genitalia after making unwanted sexual advances towards another character. Ironically, during Trump’s campaign for presidency, a now-infamous tape of him boasting about being able to do as he pleases to women, including “Grab ‘em by the p*ssy,” was widely circulated in the media, causing an uproar from the opposition. 

A dystopian world: Hwang noted that he didn’t always feel the world would be ready for the show, describing it as something that would be seen as too “bizarre” and “not realistic” when he initially conceived the idea. 

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  • But 10 years down the line, following a Trump-led America descending into more chaos and global economic disparities widening, the premise of the show seemed as though it would resonate with audiences. 
  • The success of similarly themed films including the 2020 Academy Awards “Best Picture” winner “Parasite” proved just as much.  
  • Hwang also noted that Netflix imposed fewer restrictions than film distributors for him to fulfill his creative vision. 
  • “When it was originally written as a film script, I had to concentrate on just the games because it was just two hours. But now that it’s a nine-episode long series, I could focus on the relationships between people [and] the stories that each of the people had,” he said.

What’s next: As “Squid Game” tops Netflix’s streaming charts worldwide, it appears it was the right time for the series’ release. 

  • Noting its widespread popularity, Hwang said he feels pressured to deliver a second season to answer all the questions viewers have been left with. 
  • He told Indiewire: “I still have the story about the Front Man and his relationship with his brother, the policeman. And people are also curious about where Gi-hun is headed in the finale because he turns away from the plane. I think I do have the obligation to explain it to the fans and I’m thinking about Season 2, but at the time, I was so tired after finishing Season 1, I couldn’t really think of Season 2. But now that it’s become such a big hit, people would hate me if I don’t make a Season 2, so I feel a lot of pressure and think I’d have to. The big success of Season 1 is a big reward to me, but at the same time it’s given me a lot of pressure.”

Featured Image via ABC News (left), Netflix (right)

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