A real-life ‘Squid Game’ is set to begin in South Korea

A mercifully murder-free competition inspired by Netflix’s “Squid Game” is coming to a town in Korea — so long as pandemic restriction will allow it.

After surpassing all previous Netflix records (eat your heart out, “Bridgerton”) with an audience of 111 million globally since its Sept. 17 release, the Korean dystopian drama has, as to be expected, exploded into a real-life phenomenon — with weird and wacky, sometimes disappointing or occasionally dangerous results.

St. John’s Hotel in Gangwon Province has partnered with a ticketing vendor to produce an event of outdoor games as seen in “Squid Game,” including a very real prize of 5 million won ($4,215), the Korea Times reported Thursday.

The field day-like event would take place Oct. 24; however, local officials have issued an order to cancel the games as they would violate social distancing restrictions in the city of Gangneung.

The “Red Light, Green Light” scene in “Squid Game” depicts a giant, singing doll with killer lasers for eyes.

“Squid Game,” starring an all-Korean cast, tells the story of a group of hard-pressed contestants picked to play in a tournament of deadly children’s games in a bid to win life-changing sums of money.

If permitted, contestants of all ages, hotel guests or not, would participate in a series of four games as seen on the show, to take place in a pine tree forest on hotel grounds: tug of war, the traditional Korean paper-flipping game ttakji chigi, the tasty dalgona cookie challenge and the nightmarish “Red Light, Green Light.” No details as to whether a giant, creepy doll will be involved.

Squid Game scenes
Many of the games as seen in “Squid Game” were taken from Korean tradition, such as the paper-flipping challenge, called “ttakji chigi.”

Chosen players would receive the characteristically mysterious business card with a phone number for a host who would give them instructions on how to play — as depicted in the show. They also warned that those who break rules will be eliminated, “though not literally as in the series,” according to Korea Times.

As in the show, the anonymous host will also be revealed once a winner is crowned.

But the local authorities in Gangneung said there are rules against the gathering of more than eight people, regardless of vaccination and health status.

Squid Game scenes
“Squid Game” surpassed Netflix’s previous audience record with 111 million viewers, beating recent hit “Bridgerton” which brought 88 million to watch.
Netflix/AFP via Getty Images

Registration for the games, which costs 10,000 won ($8.40) in advance, closed as of Wednesday, according to Instagram. The event was already sold out by the time the city issued their order, according to a hotel staffer who spoke to the Korean Times, adding in a statement from St. John’s Hotel that talks are underway to discuss cancellation or modifying the games to comply with city codes.

They may look to yet another “Squid Game”-like tournament to begin Oct. 16 at a campground in Wonju, Gangwon Province, Korea Times also reported. Organized by the online game platform Frip, games are scheduled with a limited number of players in compliance with public health restrictions.

The winner of Frip’s real-life games would receive 45,600 points — a nod to the 45.6 billion won award for the fictional series winner — to be used on their site.

Plans appear to be moving ahead as the hotel said on Instagram Wednesday, that “invitations will be sent” soon.


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