South Korean Workers in ‘Squid Games’ Outfit to Protest Against Poor Working Conditions

Vrinda Gupta
Vrinda Gupta

Is Squid Games based on the real-life crisis of Koreans?

Squid Games was released on Netflix on September 17, 2021. From the launch, it has become the biggest series launch of Netflix. Written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, Squid Game is about 456 debt-ridden strangers who are invited to play a series of survival games. The story of Squid Games revolves around characters participating in life-threatening challenges that are Korean children’s games. The games include huge cash prizes of45.6 billion won ($38 million). In these games, elimination includes death. However, the players still choose to play this game is due to the indebtedness they suffer.

In South Korea, thousands of union workers wearing costumes inspired by the Netflix hit Squid Game rallied in the streets.  On Wednesday, they were protesting for more jobs and better working conditions. The workers of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) were in large numbers and they staged nationwide demonstrations in Seoul and other locations.  Furthermore, there were dozens of members who were dressed up in flamboyant jumpsuits and mask similar to those worn by actors in the Netflix show.

Here, you can watch this YouTube video to get a real picture of the protests:

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What are the Workers Demanding?

In the video, you can see some people holding flags and signs.  The signs say “Inequality Out” and “Safe Youth Employment; Quality Youth Employment“. One of the members of KCTU said, “About 80 youth union members dressed up in costumes that parody the Squid Game, which bitterly satirizes the bare face of our society.” However, Seoul city, on Thursday,  filed a complaint against the group with the police. Reportedly, the government said it is illegal to stage protests while Covid-19 is prevailing. As a result, they mentioned that the union is violating the infectious disease prevention law. Only one person protests are allowed in Seoul. That too follows current social-distancing norms.

While South Korea is one of the fastest-growing developing nations, there is a dark side to it as well. The quality of life of Korean citizens is suffering as there is a rise in personal borrowing, the highest suicide rate among advanced nations, and the rarity of getting free of debt. Household borrowings in South Korea is so high that it is almost equal to the country’s GDP. In fact, the borrowings stand at US$1.5 trillion which surpasses the economic output.



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