Hwang said, “The show aimed at the global market from the beginning. I thought what is most Korean is what is the most international. The show presents a series of old local playground games, so I had my doubts about its global success. Therefore, I was stunned when it became one of the top trending shows. I jokingly told people that if things work out, the honeycomb kits will sell like hotcakes and it became true,” with a hearty laugh.
Some people point out that Squid Game is similar to some Japanese movies based on survival games. In response, he said, “I think there are two major differences. In other similar works, we see the games first. However, in Squid Game, we see people first. Usually, in movies like this, a genius appears to solve the complex games. However, we chose the simplest games of all children’s games. It’s not about a hero winning the game, but it’s all about the story of the losers. The ‘stepping stone game’ is the most symbolic in that aspect. It is a story of losers who can go all the way to the end with the dedication and sacrifice of many other people.”
The scene where Sung Gi Hun (Lee Jung Jae) changes his hair color to red at the end drew a lot of attention. Regarding the part, director Hwang explained, “I thought about this intuitively, thinking about how Gi Hun should change his hair in a hair salon. I imagined being him and thought to myself, ‘what is the color that you would never choose to dye your hair?’ Then I came to the conclusion that Gi Hun would never dye his hair red. It would be the craziest thing for him to do. So I chose the color and I thought it really showed his inner anger.”
Regarding the possible second season, he revealed, “I have some plans in my mind, but I should talk to Netflix about it first. I lost six teeth, and I got implants filming the first season, so I’m a little worried,” and laughed. However, he chose to stay silent about the fate of Hwang Joon Ho by saying, “It’s a secret, and I can’t tell you now.”
About how Gong Yoo and Lee Byung Hun made surprise appearances, he explained, “I knew Gong Yoo before filming Silenced (2011), so I asked him to be on our show at a private gathering. Plus, I kept in touch with Lee Byung Hun after The Fortress (2017), and he said yes when I asked him to appear at another event.”
Jung Ho Yeon, who appeared as Sae Byuk in the series, is receiving rave reviews. In regards to her popularity, the director said, “I wanted to work with new actors. The moment I saw her audition tape from New York, I immediately thought to myself, ‘this is the girl we want.’ My first impression on her was that she is wild and free like an untamed horse.
Translator Cho EK: I’m a big fan of Korean dramas and movies.