Netflix’s Korean TV series Squid Game is now officially a worldwide phenomenon, having surpassed 111 million views. In just one month, the dystopian series has easily surpassed Bridgerton, holder of the TV platform’s previous record.
Mixing social allegory and extreme violence, Squid Game features characters from South Korea’s most marginalized fringe.
Among others, an Indian migrant and a North Korean defector are playing traditional children’s games to win 45.6 billion won (€33 million). The losers of each game are killed.
“Squid Game has officially reached 111 million fans – making it our biggest series launch ever,” Netflix tweeted on Tuesday.
Squid Game has officially reached 111 million fans — making it our biggest series launch ever! pic.twitter.com/SW3FJ42Qsn
— Netflix (@netflix) October 12, 2021
The juxtaposition of children’s pastimes and their fatal consequences, with slick production and lavish set design, has won over huge audiences around the world. The series is hovering at the top of the charts on Netflix in over 80 countries.
Squid Game surpasses Bridgerton’s viewership
The record was previously held by a series of a completely different genre, Bridgerton. The series is a modern take on the sentimental intrigues of upper-class British society in the early 19th century. It was viewed by 82 million accounts in the four weeks following its launch at the end of December 2019.
The figures published by Netflix, measure all accounts watching an episode for at least two minutes. They are not subject to third-party verification, unlike audience measurements for traditional television.
The Squid Game phenomenon is the latest manifestation of South Korea’s growing influence on the global cultural scene. It follows the K-pop sensation BTS and “Parasite”, the Palme d’Or winner at Cannes and the first non-English language film to win the Best Picture Oscar.
Bad reviews and minor social media outrage
Despite its phenomenal success, The Squid Game has been met with some bad reviews and celebrities’ outrage on social media. Critics and international actors have pointed out its cartoon violence and lack of character depth.
Nevertheless, younger viewers are addicted to Squid Game. They love its “Hunger Games” style story-line and have made its hashtag viral all over social media.
Squid Game’s success comes after a minor controversy concerning its English subtitling. Korean viewers have pointed out that “botched” English subtitles have changed the Netflix show’s meaning for English-speaking viewers.
Korean speaker Youngmi Mayer claims the Squid Game’s closed-caption subtitles in English are “so bad” that the original meaning is often lost. Netflix hasn’t yet responded to international media requests for comment.
Korean wave on the rise
The Korean wave is not likely to subside immediately. In February, Netflix announced a plan to invest $500 million (€432 million) this year alone in series and films produced in South Korea.
This Korean success also reinforces Netflix’s strategy of producing more international and foreign-language content. The streaming giant’s third-biggest success is the French series “Lupin”, with French star Omar Sy playing the famous gentleman thief in a contemporary setting.