Korean drama Squid Game has topped Netflix’s most-watched lists globally since its September release. But this week, a select group of people will be able to try their hand at the Korean playground games that contestants are tasked with in the show, without the deadly penalties.
On Tuesday, two groups of 15 pre-selected participants will take place in the games organised by the Korean Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi. In keeping with the show, participants will wear uniforms featuring the Squid Game logo, while staff wear circle, triangle and square costumes.
The Korean Cultural Centre said: “The games seemed a bit brutal in the series to maximise the dramatic element, however, actually all the games in the series are popular games played by Korean children from the past to the present. KCC would like the people in the UAE to learn more about Korean culture by participating in the event.”
Green light, red light, glass stepping stones, the dalgona game, marbles and ttakji will all be played in five different rounds. In the Netflix show, participants die when they fail to complete the games, but ahead of the event, the Korean Cultural Centre stressed: “Regardless of the tournament, the eliminated players can participate in and watch the game separately without returning home.”
Nam Chan-woo, director of Korean Cultural Centre, says of the event: “Amid the global popularity of Squid Game, we have prepared this event to experience Korean play culture with many people in the United Arab Emirates.
“Just as K-pop has gained its worldwide popularity through YouTube in the 2010s, I think Netflix will be a channel for the global spread of Korean video content such as dramas and movies.”
The Korean Cultural Centre’s breakdown of the ‘Squid Game’ events:
1. Green light, red light
“The game is a very popular childhood game in Korea. Personally, I played it a lot during my childhood with my school friends and playmates in my neighbourhood. In Korean we say, ‘The roses of Sharon have blossomed,’ instead of Green Light and Red Light. The person whose movement is detected is eliminated,” says Nam. The KCC will use sponge guns in the game.
2) Glass stepping stones
For the recreation of this round, KCC plans to do the stepping stones on the floor, saying it will “run exactly the same as in the Squid Game series.”
3) The honeycomb toffee game aka the dalgona game
“After school on your way back home, you would see dalgona makers in front of your school. Korean children paid Dh1 or Dh2 10 to 20 years ago, so maybe Dh5 to Dh10 now, for one dalgona game.
“They all gathered together with their friends and try to take out the shapes marked. If you get the shape without any breaks, you get one more for free,” says Nam.
“Two players will be paired to play a game with marbles, and those who exhaust all the beads will be eliminated. However, KCC will do even or odd game with the marbles,” say Nam. “This is also a very common childhood game among Koreans.”
Similar to the game played in the first episode of the show, the player who flips over the other’s paper ttakji first will be the winner.
“This is a traditional Korean game; we play ttakji with friends and family during the holidays, such as New Year’s Day or Thanksgiving,” says Nam. “Koreans use old calendars to make them because they are usually hard enough to make a durable ttakji.”