Several Easter eggs and behind-the-scenes stories have come to light with Squid Game’s meteoric rise to success. One such involves an unlikely character: Former US President Donald Trump.
Netflix’s Squid Game was initially written by writer-director Hwang Dong-hyuk well over a decade ago in 2008. However, the brutal survival show was rejected by several production houses, with most calling the story “too strange and unrealistic.” It was only when Netflix came onto the scene that Hwang Dong-hyuk was given the green light to go ahead with the project.
In a recent interview, the director, whose other projects include the critically acclaimed Silenced, revealed the surprising inspiration behind one of the most prominent figures used in the show – Donald Trump.
Hwang Dong-hyuk talks Donald Trump and other inspirations behind the show
While producers had rejected Squid Game, citing its strangeness and estrangement from reality, the show’s plot is very rooted in reality. The existence of loan sharks and crippling debt in South Korea and most parts of the world is a reality that Hwang Dong-hyuk only highlights in his work. While the game itself may not be accurate, the circumstances that led to its creation very much are.
In a recent interview with IndieWire, the director elaborated on some of the many real-life incidents that pushed him to write Squid Game, from financial crises to Donald Trump.
The financial issue that Hwang Dong-huk drew inspiration from was the Lehman Brothers crisis. The global financial company was the fourth largest investment bank in the United States of America during its peak. In 2008 though, the firm officially declared bankruptcy, triggering a worldwide recession with ripples felt from India to Japan. The economic crises affected the South Korean economy badly, and the director himself was concerned. Hwang Dong-hyuk stated,
“The Korean economy was badly affected and I was also economically struggling.”
Hwang Song-hyuk has also credited novel technologies as Squid Game inspirations, from cryptocurrency and blockchains, that young Koreans have reportedly “invested all their money into” social media and IT powerhouses like Facebook, Google [and] Naver. While these applications have changed the way we lead our lives, the corporations behind them have become very rich in the process, sometimes at the cost of those who use them.
The most surprising of all inspirations, though, was the figure of Donald Trump. He claimed that characters in Squid Game were directly inspired by the eccentric and widely disliked former US President Donald Trump.
Hwang pointed out America under Donald Trump’s presidency and said it was
“like he’s (Donald Trump) running a game show, not a country, like giving people horror.”
It was this apparent tyranny of Donald Trump that made him resemble the VIPs in Squid Game, the writer went on to say.
The VIPs in the show were the bloodthirsty masked guests, dressed in elaborate masks and opulent robes, who took relish in watching the bloody games. The incredibly wealthy VIPs even bet on their favorite players, like one would bet on horses while sipping champagne and using other humans as footstools. For Hwang Dong-hyuk, the indifference of these VIPs resembled the way Donald Trump ran the USA, watching atrocities with little care.
The director concluded by stating,
“After all these issues happened, I thought it was about time that this show goes out into the world,”
The troubling parallels have firmly established Squid Game as a show to watch out for. Several found in the show a scathing critique of capitalism and capitalist nations like South Korea. The director’s insights have only given more credence to these theories.
With the world watching Squid Game, one can expect that apart from the incredible script and the acting, people also pay attention to the glaring commentary of wealth disparity and capitalism that the show offers.