• Ayesha Ashfaq

Why I would take part in the Squid Games

Ayesha provides commentary on how participating in the Squid Games would evoke questions about balancing new wealth with ethical concerns.


The popular Korean drama was a hot topic – all our social media platforms were flooding with its content at the peak of the show. Its bone-chilling, absurd themes inspired millions of psychological-thriller fanatics. So much so that, during Halloween, everyone was planning to either dress up as player 067 or the murderous “pink guys”. But the show is much more than just meets the eye. Apart from the evident anti-capitalistic themes, the show’s ability to force its viewers to channel strong emotions for the morally grey characters and to justify their stance is quite controversial yet remarkably admirable.


But if given the choice, would you participate in the Squid Games? Because I would. But before you jump to a conclusion, I am aware such an opinion would raise some eyebrows but hear me out. If you have seen the series (in case, you have not – Spoiler Alert!) the players are carefully handpicked civilians who just so happen to be knee-deep in debt and are given the choice to play a course of survival “games”. There is only one winner who gets to walk away with a whopping 46.5 billion won (roughly converted to 38.304 million USD) prize money. And you may ask, what about the remaining participants who fail to do so? Brutally killed off! Maybe the real world is not so different after all. The winners are the wealthy who are celebrated and those who fail may not be annihilated but face far worse circumstances while living.


If you ponder, you can come up with numerous possibilities on how to spend that money wisely. Provide funding for orphanages, build schools and make education free for the underprivileged, invest in scientific research for discovering a cure for an unknown disease(s), support organizations that fight for the rights of minorities, and if you manage to check the aforementioned prospects, you would still be left with more than enough money to establish a luxurious lifestyle and support your friends and family on the side. All this for a small sacrifice.


One might be concerned; how can you be so apathetic? How will you carry on with your life normally, knowing you have the blood of numerous innocent lives on your hands? How can you be heartless enough to back your argument up with your flawed sense of logic and justice? Before you attack me, look around you conscientiously. Maybe it is easier for one to be consumed by their privilege and form such justified deductions. But do we need to be on the verge of debt ourselves to realize the gravity of the situation the players were in? Even in the screenplay, it is shown that the players were “given the choice” to participate. But it is the system that failed its residents to the extent that they were driven purely by their money-hungry instincts to survive, in other words, they had no choice. In an economy established about the rich, by the rich, and for the rich, we are constantly living under the illusion of being too underqualified to reach that level of extravagance and leisure.


So, in a grand scheme of events where you are reduced to rely on dirty methods to earn a living, would it be that easy to sacrifice your own life for the sake of others to get ahead of you or would you adopt a more selfish approach? Unless you belong to the elite class, it is nothing but a game where the fittest survive and the rest waste away. Either way, what is the point of a life where you are struggling

endlessly, stuck in a maze with no escape? So, if you truly put yourself in the shoes of the characters, would you empathize enough to set your sense of heroism aside like Sang-woo? Or would you want to strive to create a world where everyone could co-exist in harmony like Gi-hun? One of the many factors for the show’s explosive growth is its clever way of provoking one to think more critically about our failing economy. So, are you convinced yet or not?