Squid Game has several memorable characters, but one which stood out, despite the little screentime, was Lee Yoo Mi's character, Ji Young. But did you know- She was initially supposed to be a man!
Netflix's Squid Game is, without a doubt, the most talked-about show in the world right now. The Korean survival show is topping charts worldwide and finding viewers in people who have never seen Korean dramas. While several characters have left an indelible mark on viewers, Lee Yoo Mi's Ji Young and Kang Sae-byeok star crossed friendship was one of the most impactful. This is why director Hwang Dong-hyuk latest revelation comes as a shock to many.
Squid Game's Ji Young was supposed to be Ji Yong?
Lee Yoo-mi's character, Ji Young, in Squid Game goes without a surname. Player 240 is a young woman who entered the game after being released from jail. Unlike several other competitors, Ji Young's reason for being in prison had nothing to do with debt or money - it was because she killed her abusive father.
Ji Young's unlikely friendship with Jung Ho-yeon's Kang Sae-byeok marks a pivotal turning point for both the characters. Viewers of the show were impressed by the chemistry that the young actors had with each other, even in the face of certain death.
The director of the show, Hwang Dong-hyuk, during a commentary with Lee Jung Jae, Park Hae Soo, and art director Chae Kyoung Sun revealed some information that potentially could have changed Squid Game.
One extensive detail in Squid Game was changed between writing the script and the filming of the show: the character of Ji Young was originally a man named Ji Young!
Hwang Dong-hyuk also revealed that his intention behind this relationship between Ji Young and Sae Byeok was to contrast the brutal, violent game led by jealousy and greed and a pure, organic bond between two strangers.
The director said,
They’re complete strangers but there’s some kind of friendship between them. A bond formed in a short period of time. Empathy and understanding of each other. I thought they would be the perfect example to portray such feelings.
Squid Game was first written by Hwang Dong-hyuk in 2008 when the director was still living with his mother. At some point in the over-a-decade-long wait for Squid Game, he decided the "bond between women" would better fit the script.
When I wrote this 10 years ago, Ji Young was a boy. The name was ‘Ji Yong.’ But I thought a bond between women would make more sense. I think it’s the scene that makes you cry the most.
While this boy version of Ji Young did not make it to the screen, one fan has theorized that there could have been a parallel between Ji Yong and Sae Byeok's little brother.
The genius of the director is evident in how the decision to change gender is what gave Squid Game fans the iconic friendship of Ji Young, selfless even in the face of personal loss.