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Squid Game: the lessons it can teach without you having to play.

 Unless you live in a pineapple under the sea like Spongebob. You have heard of the latest Netflix sensation dabbed Squid Game. Squid Game was released on September 17, 2021, to critical acclaim and worldwide attention. It has been viewed a total of 111 million times and the memes keep flowing.

A lot has been and is being said about the South Korean TV Series. If you’re one of the Spongebobs reading this, we’ll explain it to you in a sec. For those fast bloomers who’ve watched Squid Game already or are watching it now. We’ll be sharing some life lessons that we can all glean from the creator and its creation process.

You shall find no spoilers here. 

Squid Game: How you’d explain it to a 5-year-old.

This is a story about a group of penniless individuals. People who are deep in debt and are desperate to come out. Then in comes these ‘saviours’ promising $38 million USD for what sounds like child’s play.  Before they even know it, they’re being lured into a deadly tournament of survival. 

They have to stay alive to win the grand prize that’s equivalent to 45 billion South Korean won.  It’s all games and no fun;  a bunch of them keep dropping like flies. Still,  they don’t know that their chances of survival are next to zero. The characters are very relatable and some of them go through difficulties in life. Difficulties that most of us have lived through. 

This 9-episode series is named Squid Game by the writer/director Hwang Dong-hyuk. Simply named after an old South Korean children’s game. Played on a Squid-shaped court and the game is actually played at some point as the series progresses. 

WHY ALL THE HYPE?

Squid Game has officially become the most-watched series on Netflix ever, surpassing Bridgerton, of the ‘hot Duke’ fame. To some people, the story is bizarre and too difficult to understand.

To some others, the blood bath is a common occurrence throughout the series makes it a no-go. The show’s writer actually says many studios shot down his idea saying it was too  ‘grotesque and unrealistic’.

There’s more to the legend that is Squid Game than the bag of coins we assume it made for Netflix. The creator, Hwang Dong-hyuk has a story that makes me feel like he would survive the Game. 

Overarching Lesson from the Squid Game creator: 

Develop the patience of a noiseless spider, isolated in its web, hungry and alert

Dong-hyuk was quoted saying that he initially wrote the script for the show back in the year 2008. He was so broke that he had no means to actualize it. Dong-hyuk tried to sell his idea to studios and actors in South Korea, but none would buy it.

He stated,” I wanted to write a story that was an allegory or fable about modern capitalist society. Something that depicts extreme competition. Somewhat like the extreme competition of life. But I wanted it to use the kind of characters we’ve all met in real life.’’

He simply never gave up on his dream. Many years later, someone believed in him and now he has the biggest show in the world. Hungry but alert. A lesson for all of us, right?

What lessons can we learn from the Squid Game Creation Process?

  1. Simplicity is the ultimate expression of genius: 

The idea of presenting the story through simple children’s stories was pure artistry.  

This simplicity allows people of varying IQs to understand and relate to the story. Perhaps even see themselves in some of those characters. The depth of the storyline is a lot easier to transmit when people ‘see’ themselves as part of the story. 

Nothing is a bigger indicator of brilliance than being able to explain a complex concept in a way that a 5-year-old can easily understand. This lesson alone can help you win a pitch, secure a job and seize whatever bag you might be going after. 

  1.  “One-half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.”- Sidney Howard.

Dong-hyuk said that developing the show itself was both physically and mentally draining. Apparently,  6 of his teeth fell out during the making of Season 1. Writing the first 2 episodes alone of Season 1 took about 6 months to complete.

So, while we hope no teeth will be lost in the process of you getting to achieve your dreams. Taking stock of what you need to give up in order to get what you ultimately want will show you whether you want it bad enough. If it’s even worth it in the first place. But first, do the math. 

  1. Don’t sleep on yourself. Leave a little room for magic.

In the initial stages of the show’s conception, when the writer was looking to sell his script to local South Korean studios. He might have never thought that his idea would be consumed the world over.

He might have only expected a local audience to appreciate his creation, or he just wanted it sold so as to get his next meal.

His expectations were met and passed in proportions that he did not even expect.

You might be dreaming small. So, keep working hard on your craft. The universe might just decide to conspire to take you to levels you never imagined possible. 

  1. Be ABOUT it!! Be Involved. 

While we don’t know where Dong-hyuk lies on the scale of 0 to a micromanaging control freak.   We can tell he was very hands-on with this project. From creating to writing to directing, he was the midwife and this was his baby. You can bet that he was intimately involved in birthing this film. 

If you have an idea or are working towards something. Having a hands-on and proactive approach to it can yield great results. Being involved is sometimes not enough. Taking complete ownership to the point of near obsession may be the sacrifice you need to take depending on the prize you’re going for.

But, if you want to keep your teeth in the process, remember: 

  1. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Dong-hyuk is actually quoted saying that for Season 2, he is going to involve a much bigger team to help him out.  We can be sure he is going to be thoroughly involved, but there’s no prize to be won for suffering burnout. Crashing your relationships or dying of a work-induced stroke. 

Working with people who are good at what you aren’t, divides the work and multiplies the potential for glory. 

And that sounds like fun. 

If you’re one of the people who have strong hype-resistance powers, I am here to add a bit more… ahem, encouragement.  Binge on it one of these weekends and let it usher you into another world of edutainment

And while at it, maybe try learning some Korean.

    2 Comments

  1. Patel
    November 9, 2021
    Reply

    I loved the series, it’s great to see you incorporate it into our daily lives. Big up

    • James Ng'ang'a
      November 18, 2021
      Reply

      Thank you very much for your comment, we loved it very much too. Are there any others you would recommend to us? We would love to hear from you.

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