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‘Squid Game’ Creator Likens Trump to Show’s Villains: ‘It’s Like He’s Running a Game Show, Not a Country’

Hwang Dong-hyuk tells IndieWire how our former president influenced Korean-language Netflix smash hit

“Squid Game” director Hwang Dong-hyuk has compared former President Donald Trump to “one of the VIPs” — or one of the villains — in his surprise Netflix smash hit.

In a recent interview with IndieWire, Dong-hyuk said he was sitting on the “theories for the show” since 2008, when the U.S. banking industry’s collapse was felt in his native Korea. Fast-forward eight years, and Trump behaving “like he’s running a game show, not a country…giving people horror,” in Dong-hyuk’s words via a translator, sealed the deal.

I thought it was about time that this show goes out into the world,” Dong-hyuk said.

The world has been obsessed since.

Here is Dong-hyuk’s full explanation on the timing of the series, as told to IndieWire via a translator: “I conceived of the theories for the show in 2008. At the time, there was the Lehman Brothers crisis; the Korean economy was badly affected and I was also economically struggling. Over the past 10 years, there were a lot of issues: There was the cryptocurrency boom, where people around the world, especially young people in Korea, would go all-in and invest all their money into cryptocurrencies. And there was the rise of IT giants like Facebook, Google, and in Korea, there’s Naver, and they are just restructuring our lives. It’s innovative but these IT giants also got very rich. And then Donald Trump became the president of the United States and I think he kind of resembles one of the VIPs in the Squid Game. It’s almost like he’s running a game show, not a country, like giving people horror. After all these issues happened, I thought it was about time that this show goes out into the world.”

Since launching on Sept. 17, “Squid Game” has become a worldwide phenomenon and is on track to become the most popular series Netflix has ever released, according to co-CEO Ted Sarandos.

The series, which was originally plotted as a film, paints a dystopian view of humanity as it follows more than 400 people in severe debt who are given the chance to compete in children’s games for a massive cash prize. The catch? The stakes are literally life and death — if you’re eliminated in the game, you’re killed on the spot.

The show’s extreme violence is also something Dong-hyuk said wouldn’t have flown a decade ago. But it’s 2021, “Squid Game” is on Netflix, and anything goes.