The South Korean survival drama Squid Game has become an unexpected viral hit, creating countless TikTok trends, memes, and filters.
Note: The content may include some spoilers.
The ‘players’ play six different games, all based on real children’s games. If you were wondering about the games too, here’s a quick rundown of all the traditional Korean games included in Squid Game.
Squid Game features how many games?
In an interview with Variety, Squid Game creator Hwang Dong-Hyuk shared that he took inspiration from the games he used to play in his childhood. He added that he wanted to simplify the games, as his aim was for viewers to pay more attention to the characters rather than get entangled in the rules.
While the show did its job getting people invested, the games attracted attention too.
Pre-battle round: Ddakji
The ddakji game’s popularity soared majorly due to the Train to Busan actor, Gong Yoo. There’s no denying that. Ddakji is folded paper tiles kids usually played in the alleys or schoolyards back in the 90s. It’s a traditional game that requires strength and a bit of strategy, as it’s all about flipping the tile on the ground by throwing the tile in your hand.
The game has a no-touch rule. No matter what, once the game starts, no one can change its position, angle, or anything until it ends. The director discussed the famous ddakji fan theory too.
Red light, green light aka, 무궁화 꽃이 피었습니다
The first game in Squid Game is a basic tag-freeze game that almost all of us have played variations of in our childhood. Only this time, it’s dangerous and fits perfectly for eliminating a herd from 456 players in a couple of minutes.
The players have to freeze when the giant red doll finishes singing, 무궁화 꽃이 피었습니다 (the mugunghwa flower has bloomed). The Mugunghwa flower, aka the rose of Sharon, is Korea’s national flower. The doll keeps the pace of the phrase slow and steady, but in real life, the speed can drastically change to catch people quicker.
Honeycomb shape cutting or ppopgi
Ppopgi directly translates to “to pluck”, which is the essence of this dalgona honeycomb candy. Like Squid Game shows, It’s as easy to break as it is difficult to make.
In South Korea, this traditional game was played by children as street vendors made the candy in front of them, shaped it with a cookie-cutter, and gave them a small needle to carve it out. Perfectly carved out cookies would eventually be celebrated by everyone, as the vendor would exchange small toys in return.
Tug of war or juldarigi
The most common of all the games, the third round consists of a tug of war between a team of ten people. Granted, the tug of war we played was way less dangerous than Squid Game's. Juldarigi is of cultural and agricultural importance and is a common game played during the lunar festival. The children’s version is called “gosat juldarigi”. The sport is said to bring good luck and a bountiful harvest to the winning team.
Squid Game's fourth game introduced us to the different ways Koreans have played marbles.
One of the games depends purely on luck. Player A has to bet X amount of marbles hidden in a fist and guess if player B has an odd or an even number of marbles. If A guesses it right, B has to give them the number of marbles A bets on. If not, then they have to provide B with the number of marbles they bet on.
Another depends on strategy, as players dig a hole in the distance and throw marbles at it. Whoever’s marble goes in the hole first gets to take up all the marbles on the ground.
The third one is a race. The players race their marbles against a wall or any object. Whichever player’s marble is closest to the object, wins.
Glass stepping stone
A variation of hopscotch, thankfully the glass stepping stone game, only exists in Squid Game. Players have to skip the restricted boxes only this time, it’s glasses, and people need to skip the normal glass or die.
The last game, Squid Game, is the most titular game and the most complex one too. Played mainly in the 1970s and 1980s, it is played in a court shaped like a squid’s body.
Teams are divided into offense and defense. The offense can hop on one leg only outside, while the defense can walk on two inside the borders. But, if the attacker cuts through the “waist” in the center, they can walk on two.
The team wins when all the attackers put their foot on the small circle, the “head” of the squid. If the defenders push them out, they lose.