The biggest show in the world right now, Squid Game, originally had a different name - Round Six!
Despite having released only a month ago, Netflix’s Squid Game has successfully taken over the world. The viral Korean survival show, which was inspired by Battle Royale, has made viewers out of people who have never encountered Korean media before. Squid Game has taken over Shonda Rhimes’ Bridgerton to become Netflix’s most-watched show of all time, an incredible feat given that the show is not in English.
While Squid Game has become a household phrase now, very few non-Korean viewers could say they knew what it meant before the show’s release. This is why Squid Game almost had a completely different name.
Squid Game or Round Six?
Netflix’s Director of Content for Korea, Kim Min Young, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, revealed that Squid Game’s original name was something very different and less unique. Kim Min Young discussed the show’s unprecedented success, and when asked about any creative decisions that influenced the show’s making, admitted that the show’s unique title was debated at first.
It appears that Squid Game was always meant for global domination, with Kim stating that she wanted the show to travel the world. It was in balancing “cultural authenticity” and “global accessibility,” that the title was brought up.
The titular Squid Game, according to Kim, despite being a real game, is not very common with the younger generation. The production team was also concerned with the title’s global appeal. Kim said:
"Squid Game, or ojingeo in Korean, is a real kids’ game here, but not all Koreans actually know it. My generation knows it, but my niece’s generation probably wouldn’t. So, initially, we knew we wanted this show to travel but we were worried the title Squid Game wouldn’t resonate because not many people would get it."
It was for these reasons that the tentative title for the show was a more universal, more generic Round Six. Round Six here refers to the six traditional Korean games played on the show, the sixth being the eponymous Squid Game.
It was the director Hwang Dong-Hyuk, though, who recommended a return to the original title Squid Game, to stay true to the Korean roots. While Round Six might have needed less explanation, it is the unique Squid Game that has intrigued viewers around the world.
Kim Min Young, in the interview, agreed with Hwang Dong-Hyuk, stating that changing the title would have been a big mistake, and the “more authentic title” actually helped the show’s popularity. She added:
"[…] I think we tend to underestimate the curiosity that a lot of our members and audience have. In trying to make it really easy to understand what the show is, we could have made a big mistake. I’m so glad director Hwang steered us back to Squid Game — it sparks curiosity and captures the story so well."
Strangely enough, Squid Game did end up being called Round Six, but only in Brazil!
Squid Game’s massive success has triggered several conversations around the world related to accessibility and authenticity, including the age-old debate between subs vs dubs, and the issue of sentiments getting lost in translation.
There is no denying, though, the special role played by the show’s current name in its meteoric success. Round Six would definitely not have had the same effect.