The Universal Hype of Squid Game 

BCM320 Contextual Report 

Project Summary

In this post, I have documented some of the research I gathered about the universal hype of the Korean Netflix series Squid Game. I also decided to jump on a social media trend where I play an online game version of Squid Game for my digital artefact on YouTube. 

Squid Game instantaneously rose to the #1 Netflix TV series spot after its release on September 17, 2021. The Korean drama is based on 456 fictional characters who are in major debt and at an all time low. They travel to an undisclosed location and are offered a large cash prize for competing against each other to win a few childhood Korean games. Seymour (2021) explains how Squid Game “mirrors our money-hungry society driven by competition and displays how much… it will truly take for humans to turn their lives around and become genuine individuals”. However, *Spoiler Alert* The characters are faced with a confronting reality that being eliminated will result in a gruesome death. 

But why did this Netflix series have so much hype? Well fans of Squid Game took to social media to share their thoughts and theories about the series. This pretty much broke the internet and resulted in a snowball effect of people around the globe binge watching the show. Antique (2019) demonstrates that “it was the role of the Internet as an apparatus of distribution that came to the fore”. Without the internet Korean pop-culture, like Squid Game would be unable to reach audiences outside of their country and it would be impossible for Asian pop-culture to receive so much hype globally. 

The universal popularity on social media is exactly how Squid Game broke the internet. For example, there are countless Twitter threads and memes created by fans commenting on different aspects of the series (see images below). This twitter post has over 116k likes, 8.5k retweets and 212 comments, emphasising its popularity. There were also quite a few similar comments about how “the success of Squid Game illustrates the benefits of globalisation and free trade”, which is an article by Boot (2021) from The Washington Post that a lot of fans seem to agree with. Additionally, “on TikTok, “#SquidGame” has been viewed more than 22.8 billion times” (Rosenblatt, 2021). I witnessed this popularity first hand on my TikTok for you page (FYP) which was full of Squid Game trends. Such as attempting to carve out a shape in dalgona candy; a popular Korean street food made from melted sugar and baking soda. 

The Rocks, Sydney Australia

Additionally, to reiterate how well known this Korean show is in Western countries like Australia. Just in time for Halloween, the red-light-green-light doll from episode one has popped up in Sydney at The Rocks. The 4.5 meter doll mimics the sound “mugunghwa kkoci pieot seumnida” and is sat next to guards wearing red jumpsuits and masks. Scary right?!

Of course the hype doesn’t end there. People enjoyed the Korean drama so much that they made video games online so people around the world could have a go at Korean children’s games for themselves. As a result, my digital artefact project consists of competing in the Squid Game and playing an online game to see if I can survive. I decided to research this project because I thoroughly enjoyed the series and binge watched it in a day. I thought it would be beneficial to understand what all the hype was about and why there are so many versions of games on the internet based on Squid Games. 

For my DA, I made a 5 minute YouTube video documenting my experience of playing Squid Game for the first time. I am engaging with a new form of media that was created in the past month. However, I am not a gamer and do not have much experience playing games so as a beginner, I thought it would make an entertaining video due to my inexperience. 

I gained inspiration from a YouTube trend, specifically a video by MM7Games called “CAN I WIN SQUID GAME?” posted on 14 October 2021. In this video, UK YouTube personality Simon films his reaction to playing Squid Game created by an online gaming platform known as Roblox. His video is very entertaining as each game gets quite intense. Currently his video has nearly 600,000 views which proves the surge of popularity of Squid Game. This inspired me to screen record my computer and also attach another video of my face while live playing, so viewers can watch me play and also see my reaction. 

Playing Squid Game online allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and jump on one of the Squid Game trends. Whilst playing the game online, I gained an understanding of the extreme pressure of passing each level. I was able to put myself in the character’s shoes, as if I was fighting for my life trying to not get eliminated. As I fully immersed myself in the game I was very thankful that there were no real life deadly eliminations.

Analysis of Important Learning Moments and Key Findings

Korea has continued to challenge their appeal to audiences outside of Asia, which is aided by the growing appeal of Korean pop culture. K-pop are “popular culture products tailored to appeal to the widest possible audience beyond the national and regional boundaries” (Kuwahara, 2014). Squid Game is a successful example of media that has expanded to new audiences and transnationally appealed to Western culture. Anthique (2019) argues that “the expanding flow of media content had a transformative effect upon popular culture across the region, not only from ‘Western’ material but also from Asian content producers such as South Korea”. Therefore, Squid Game has driven economic growth as it has taken the country’s cultural clout to a whole new level (Lee & Kim, 2021)

Global success of Squid Game can be explained by soft power, which is “a state’s ability to wield influence in the world by getting other countries to align with its interests without coercion or threat” (The Economist, 2021). Korea’s subtle entertainment industry exports are not only attracting tourists to their country but also creating jobs. According to Lee & Kim (2021) “Netflix said it helped create 16,000 full-time jobs in Korea from 2016 to 2020 across entertainment and related industries”. Even though Squid Game was a very entertaining watch, there is always a method behind the madness. 

Concluding Thoughts 

There are many contributing factors that justify the universal hype of Squid Game. My research into this topic has revealed that the driving force of popularity for this Korean Netflix show in particular was social media. With contributing factors such as Twitter threads, TikTok trends and YouTuber’s playing Squid Game online. Because of these factors, Korean pop-culture is able to transnationally appeal to audiences outside of Asia and reach the top of the charts within days.   


Athique, Adrian (2019). Digital Transactions in Asia. Digital Transactions in Asia: Social , Economic and Informational Processes. (pp. 1-22) edited by Adrian Athique and Emma Baulch. New York, NY United States: Routledge.

Boot, M. (2021). Opinion | The success of “Squid Game” illustrates the benefits of globalization and free trade. Washington Post. [online] Available at:

Kuwahara, Y. ed. (2014). The Korean wave: Korean popular culture in global context. Springer. Palgrave Macmillan. 

Lee, J. and Kim, S. (2021). “Squid Game” Takes Korean Soft Power Up a Notch, And It’s Good for Economy Too. [online] 7 Oct. Available at:

Rosenblatt, K. (2021). Netflix’s “Squid Game” is a sensation. Here’s why the internet can’t get enough. [online] NBC News. Available at:

The Economist. (2021). Does South Korea’s cultural clout make the country more powerful? [online] Available at:

Seymour, G. (2021). Why Netflix’s brutally violent “Squid Game” is breaking the internet right now. [online] The Daily Campus. Available at:


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