The Viral Effect: How Netflix's Squid Game Has Affected Life In South Korea


The Viral Effect: How Netflix's Squid Game Has Affected Life In South Korea

Entertainment , South Korea
DeAnna Taylor
DeAnna Taylor Oct 8, 2021

Squid Game this and Squid Game that. It’s literally one of the most trending topics right now across social media. The Netflix Korea-based drama recently released and, according to data, is on its way to possibly being the network’s most-watched show, too.

If you haven’t heard of Squid Game yet, it’s a somewhat dark drama turned game series that pits players against each other for a large sum of prize money. We’re talking millions in Korean won. Sadly, players lose their lives in a literal ‘elimination’ style setup.

As the show continues with its viral effect globally— being viewed in dozens of countries— people in South Korea are trying to adjust to the fact that their country is now in the spotlight. And, unfortunately, it’s not all positive.

Just last week, it was reported that one of the country’s more popular internet service providers, SK Broadband, sued Netflix over the costs from increased network traffic and the maintenance to keep it up.

As someone who previously lived in South Korea, I can tell you that the country prides itself on having some of the fastest internet speeds in the world. They are also very serious about anything affecting the country’s reputation negatively, so this lawsuit comes as no surprise.

According to Global News, Netflix’s data traffic handled by SK jumped 24 times from May 2018 to 1.2 trillion bits of data processed per second as of September, SK said, riding on the success of several Netflix productions from Korea including Squid Game.

Beyond the lawsuit, the Squid Game effect has also caused the price of a once popular “cheap” candy to go from around $.84 to just under $6, per Variety.

In one of the episodes (spoiler alert), players are asked to cut out specific shapes from a piece of dalgona, an old-fashioned brittle candy made from sugar, using only a small needle-like object. Those who are unsuccessful are killed on the spot. (See, we told you it’s dark)

Locals have been seen making posts asking where they can find the candy, in hopes of snagging a keepsake from the viral show.

The country is so obsessed with the viral sensation of the show, that a local politician has allegedly pleaded with the network to edit some of the phone numbers that randomly appear in Squid Game episodes, because fans are calling the numbers which actually belong to everyday citizens. It’s becoming a bit of a nuisance.

“We are working to resolve this matter, including editing scenes with phone numbers where necessary,” Netflix said in a reply.

The show has only been out for a few weeks, so it may be some time before all the hype dies down. Or, until the next viral show hits the platform.

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