Real-life versions Netflix’s hit show Squid Game have been promised by a social media star and a Korean hotel — without the mass deaths the show is infamous for. For some Korean institutions, however, hosting an “Squid Game’ event offers a way to showcase Korean culture.

The show, set in South Korea, centers on hundreds of people desperate for money, participating in seemingly innocent children’s games in a bid for $38.31 million. One catch? If you lose, you’ll die. 

Sherry Cha-Woo is a volunteer with The Korean Cultural Center Chicago. She said, “We have this main Korean show and faces, but we aren’t talking about Korean cultures and educating enough.” Chan-Woo volunteers with the center every year for four years. Her family members have served as the leaders and the executive board.

The show shows the inequalities, discrimination and many other issues that South Korea is currently experiencing.

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The center plans to host their own rendition of “Squid Game” on November 6. The event will feature various games from the show with popular Korean snacks awarded as prizes. Chan-Woo hopes? The public should learn more than the rules of Korean childhood games.

The event comes after a similar one Chan-Woo hosted on Oct. 13 in her neighborhood near Riverdale, Chicago.

South Korea was portrayed in the series, which has led to a greater discussion about society and its debt. 

The Associated Press reported that South Korea’s household debt, at over $1.5 trillion, now exceeds the country’s annual economic output. A record-low birth rate has resulted in struggling couples avoiding having children because of tough times. “Squid Game” illustrates the country’s mistreatment of migrant workers such as character Ali Abdul and the desperate conditions for North Korean refugees, AP reported.

In a separate event, Moon Lee — who lives in Montreal, Canada — helped host an online “Squid Games” and answered questions sent in from participants. Dozens asked “why are these Koreans so desperate for money?” Lee stated.

“The show accurately shows the reality and treatment of those who are poor in South Korea; they are treated like nothing,” Lee said. 

Squid Games’ protagonist is laid off. He has no chance to make decent money. Lee said that South Korea’s social mobility does not exist for a large portion of his family.

Other events similar to the ones hosted by Lee and Chan-Woo are popping up around the country, including a “Squid Game” held in early October by the Korean-American Association of New Jersey. According to the website, this event was intended to raise awareness about Korean culture.

Park Hae-soo as Sang-woo in Netflix's "Squid Game." Sang-woo is another player caught in the deadly game, a banker who stole money and is in debt for millions.

Chan-Woo & Lee believe that as more “Squid Games,” are held around the world, it will be important for society to remain focused on Korean culture. Chan-Woo indicated that she hopes to organize other Illinois games to raise awareness. 

“For a long while, this is not the first time that everyone seems to be concerned about South Korea’s societal customs and issues. Chan-Woo indicated that it is the first time South Koreans have been addressed. “So I want to make sure we’re educating people … with the games.”

Contributing to The Associated Press Follow Gabriela Miranda @itsgabbymiranda


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